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Chennai Inc Transforming Into India Inc: How’s The Josh?

What’s in a name? Everything, some will say. So what, some will argue. At least in the Dravidian land of Tamil Nadu, the name and personality still count. With the business landscape undergoing rapid metamorphosis by the day, the conventional wisdom of placing faith on name and personality, however, is wrought with risk. If proof is required, you have. Take the case of the Shriram group and Star Health, the country’s first private sector stand-alone health insurance company. The Shriram group has long ceased to be a Chennai conglomerate. Known largely for truck financing, Shriram is also known for its chit business. Founded by R Thyagarajan (popularly known as RT), the group has since changed a lot. Today, it is driven from Mumbai by the Piramals. Not many know that the Shriram of today does not really belong to the city of Chennai. Star Health, too, is known by its founder V Jagannathan, an insurance industry veteran. That states such as AP and TN rolled out health cover for the citizens largely due to his connection was well known. Star too has changed. Once the IPO is over, Star will be vastly different. Perhaps the people of Chennai can’t really claim Shriram and Star to be their own!