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Mobs, Messiahs, and Markets by Lila Rajiva, Will Bonner

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The Market Comes to Madras

What would make the French abandon their elegant cities and lush countryside to make glass outside a hot, dusty city in the south of India? We can safely assume it is not a sudden liking for idli‐dosai or a yen for the fancy footwork of an Indian dancer. French glass manufacturers, we venture to guess, are not in the business of philanthropy. It is not a soft heart for the Indian populace but a hard head for French profits that has the frogs serenading the lily pads in this Asian pond.

But therein lies the beauty of the market. Even our vices and our warts are turned into virtues in spite of themselves. Only commerce and the hope of a dollar could force us into the company of people so dissimilar from ourselves that we might not otherwise have chosen to know them.

To the French and the rest of the global brigade making good, what goods do the Indians have to make and offer? That's easily reckoned. Billion‐dollar firms like Infosys, Wipro, Sathyam, and Cognizant, as well as even second‐string information technology players, have most of their people located in the south of India for one reason. The four southern states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Kerala, and Andhra Pradesh (home to India's “cybercity,” Hyderabad) together account for about 64 percent of Indian software exports. Tamil Nadu state alone churns out 22,000 engineers every year. And the software industry's national association in India has rated Chennai as the best place for software development ...

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