Sunday, August 25, 2013

The first SEZ

India can take credit for a lot of firsts on the global stage and Chennai can do likewise on the national stage (and in some cases, globally as well). That's why many consider Chennai (Madras) to be the first city of modern India. And, as the place where it all began, Fort St George can take pride in all the firsts that have been listed.

There is however one 'first' that has not been considered. And that's what my wife told me last evening. "Do you realize" said she, "that Fort St George is the first SEZ in the country?". That's true. When it was set up, 374 years ago, the fort was exempt from paying any taxes on its revenues. It was also allowed duty-free imports, so by practical standards, this factory on the Coromandel coast could indeed have been India's first Special Economic Zone!

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