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Coimbatore, The City That Entrepreneurs Have Built

If there is one town in India that is atmanirbhar when it comes to ‘development’ and ‘progress’, it is Coimbatore, a small town nestled amidst the Western Ghats.

It is also a town where private enterprise rules the roost and drives the growth and prosperity of the ‘Manchester of the East’ – and was home to the country’s first textile plant set up by the British.

When most towns cry for government attention, private sector initiative has turned Coimbatore into an entrepreneurial hub that has built itself as a modern city – own hospitals, educational institutions and even critical infrastructure.

Coimbatoreans even got together and built an IAS coaching centre run free of cost by Prof Kanakaraj as city elders thought its children must join bureaucracy and police. In no time, AC classrooms, library, and cyber centre were built and handed over to Prof Kanakaraj. Every year, some 5 to 10 from the centre enter the civil services.

Coimbatore and its neighbourhood are today important manufacturing hubs – making from pins to parts of aircraft being used by Boeing, automobile components, and it is the country’s biggest agricultural pump sets manufacturing centre.

Moreover, the salubrious climate, enchanting environment, and character of Coimbatore encourages entrepreneurship like no other city.

“If you come here with a suitcase and an idea, Coimbatore and Coimbatoreans will conspire to make you succeed,” asserts Col. (Retd) T Sreedharan, who settled into the real estate business after retiring from the army.

“My own business rivals mentored me,” Col Sreedharan recalled in a conversation with Tricity Scoop. 

Now, 65 years young, Col Sreedharan is one of the most sought-after lifestyle product innovators and all his projects – under the Serene Living brand are sold out. He is also called on by the union government for his expertise.

Take, for example, a Senior Executive, robbed of all perks and salary in a flash, doggedly pursued manufacturing and today has a global client list.

“It was as if my life was snatched away from me in one go,” M Kandaswami, a mechanical engineer who now owns Anandha Fabrications (CBE) Pvt. Ltd said recalling the day in 1983 when Everest Engineering Works where he was working shut down. His car, house, salary vanished the next day and he was on the streets.

He borrowed the bicycle of the company gardener and set off with two helpers to launch his own company –Anandha – and took up the odd contract jobs for other manufacturing firms. Today the Robot Raisers and Robot bases he manufactures are helping roll out dream cars from the assembly lines of the automobile majors like – Tata, Ford, Volkswagen.

Yes, he has an office in the city of cars – Detroit – in the US that his son manages. “This was possible with generous help in tips and connections offered by the entrepreneurial class,” Kandaswami said.

Collectively, the entrepreneurs are a bigger force.

This is why, when the small Industries body – CODISSIA (Coimbatore District Small Industries Association), wanted a modern exhibition grounds to mount their trade shows for foreign buyers here, built its own, with its own money.

“With no help forthcoming from the government, the 1450 odd members pooled their resources, bought land at market price and told the architect – “It must be the best”.

“Yes, we can do it and better than the best in the world,” is the spirit that is so commonly unique to the industrious and innovative Coimbatoreans – who used to and still use the Japanese formula – copy and innovate.

The industrial history of the city is replete with instances of factory owners importing machines, ripping them apart, and fabricating their own, after necessary modifications.

It is this same spirit, so unique to its citizens, most of whom migrated from other parts in South India, that has turned this landlocked region with no natural resources or raw materials into a manufacturing centre of repute and acquired enough economic clout in Tamil Nadu and commands the attention of the political class.

But, to date, Coimbatoreans bemoan neglect of the region and lament the absence of major government investments.

Prof P Kanagaraj of the Government Arts College explains that there is a feeling that Coimbatore is rich, industrious, and can manage on its own, and perhaps this is why government focus is elsewhere.

One of the fastest growing centers of economic activity, Coimbatore leads the country in the manufacturing of textiles, textiles machinery, castings, pump sets and poultry products and has a sizable presence in industries like paper, jewellery, and auto components. Coimbatore region contributes more than Rs 3,500 crore per annum in taxes to State and Central governments and earns more than Rs 25,000 crore worth of foreign exchange.


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