Chennai has the `potential' to become Detroit of South Asia: IT Secretary

About 110 key players in global automobile industry are in the city

Special Correspondent

CHENNAI: Given its significant contribution to the Indian automobile industry, Chennai has all the potential to become one of the top three automobile giants in the world, speakers agreed at a panel discussion on "Can Chennai become the Detroit of South Asia?" organised by Satyam Computer Services and TRW Automotive suppliers.

"We fuel most of the world's industries," declared C. Chandramouli, Information Technology Secretary of the State Government, elaborating on the country's role in developing IT. "We are a knowledge powerhouse ... the knowledge and the native wit is what will make us the Detroit of South Asia. We need to build on our work ethic, quality standards, cost, low attrition rates and the proactive support from the government to carry this momentum forward," he said.

About 110 key players in the world's automobile industry were located in Chennai. Investments of about $800 million had been made in the auto-component industry, the IT Secretary noted.

"We need to keep in mind the end-users and think out of the box to give them what they need. We have to come down to the streets to find the solutions required to improve the quality of life for the common man," he said. Mangalam Srinivasan, who was an advisor to former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, currently director of Satyam Computer Services, said that Chennai was a world-class city because of the confluence of cultures. "It is a many soul city where there are many centres. It is a city that has developed organically and naturally. Ancient places like Thiruvanmiyur, Thiruvellikenni and Mylapore are all about 2500 years old. This is a city which has so many centres alive with culture and tradition," she said. However, water and leadership were crucial issues that had to be addressed, she said.

Shivkumar, Chief Managing Director of Alpump Private Limited, did a quick analysis of the city's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. "The city's port is the second largest loading hub of India. About 40 per cent of automotive components of India are made in Chennai," he said, listing the strengths.

"The weaknesses we all know... the urban sprawl, our slum population, pollution, strain on infrastructure ... have been and are being addressed by the government," Mr. Shivakumar said.

R. Mahadevan, Director of India Pistons, said that the city's large industrial base and a huge number of educational institutions, especially engineering colleges, will prove to be significant given that electronics will play a greater role in automobile engineering. Joe Drouin, Chief Information Officer of TRW Automotives, expressed his satisfaction on the five-year old Satyam-TRW partnership. The offshore development centre of TRW hosted by Satyam Computer Services had immensely contributed to the growth of IT in the State.

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