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Build close rapport with business leaders

There is urgent need for the TN chief minister and the minister of industry to build close rapport with business leaders. This has been done by successful chief ministers like Narendra Modi and Chandrababu Naidu. I cite the instance of Chandrababu Naidu effectively using this to enrich Hyderabad. He interacted closely with A Ramakrishna (AR), who took L&T Construction to great heights. Naidu had great trust and belief in the capabilities of AR. The latter lent his expertise in full - from building the Hitec City that attracted global IT majors like Microsoft, the Hitex Exhibition and the National Construction Academy, all creations of L&T Construction. This spread to other parts of AP - eg. L&T constructed in record time a massive water supply scheme for Tirumala Hills. Any and every project of significance in AP was entrusted to L&T. 

An immediate fallout of this was the emergence of a large number of civil engineering firms in AP.  GVK, GMR and dozens of others evolved as giants in the construction field working across the country and in several countries abroad. I noticed the latest entrant, Amara Raja Constructions of the Gallas who have also been making a mark in politics. 

Look at the contrast:  L&T Construction is headquartered in Chennai and has to its credit a large number of innovative projects in the Chennai metro and the state.  L&T pioneered concepts like toll roads and special purpose vehicles for a number of projects, including bridges, roads, the Bengaluru International Airport … At short notice L&T constructed the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium and got it ready for an international sports meet. Yet the state leadership, with its demand for ‘speed money’ and cuts in contracts, kept L&T Construction at arm’s length. The massive expansion of L&T Construction’s business had little share of construction contracts in Tamil Nadu. Of course the company did make handsome investments in its shipbuilding and port facilities and in several large industrial ventures in Coimbatore. 

The experience of the other business leaders of the state is not very different. Most of them have been investing on expansion outside. I commend the chief minister constituting a high power think-tank of leaders from business and academe and entrust them with the task of economic development - not the pinjrapole-type state planning commission to accommodate friends and admirers. 

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