Chennai in Eastern India sits on the coast - on the evocatively named Bay of Bengal. It is a city of 8 million people, and in colonial times the British called it Madras. It is now often referred to as the Detroit of India, centre as it is to the automotive industry in that vast country. But Indian business leaders hate that tag.
You see, they think today's Detroit is associated with the rust-belt, a city in decline in a region that depends on Uncle Sam's handouts to survive. And this is the instructive bit: they think the old centres of American industry are the past, whereas the people of Chennai are the future. And their economy is burgeoning. While in my country and in yours growth has been sclerotic, the Indians are a little worried that their GDP growth might slow down to just under 8% this year.
Our flight from London arrived at three in the morning - and all around the airport there were thousands and thousands of people on the streets. Why, I asked our driver? Because people are going to work, he said, as though I had asked a really dumb question.
Leaving the city for the coast we found ourselves travelling on a road called the IT expressway. And there you find the great campuses of Accenture and IBM and all the other giant US brands that are now employing Indians in their millions. In America this offshoring is sometimes seen as a disgraceful lack of patriotism. But in these company headquarters it is just sound economic planning.
The Indian universities are churning out a mass of high quality graduates, who are hard working and motivated, have excellent command of English, do not demand US or European wage levels, and are likely to stay loyal to their employers - staff turnover is low.
One evening we were taken to a concert of classical Indian dance. It was vibrant, breathtaking and colourful - and all the dancers were young women. We were introduced to them afterwards. The dance troupe weren't professionals, they were students finishing off their studies; one was doing biotech, another civil engineering. Naturally there was an IT undergraduate - as well as mathematicians and physicists. Their focus is frightening. Accenture used to advertise with a picture of a rear view mirror on a car with the slogan 'the opposition is closer than you think'. In India, it is. This is Jon Sopel for CBS News in London.
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