BANGALORE, India, Oct. 2 — About 25 miles south of the Chennai airport, past rows of ramshackle shops and pavements crowded with roadside vendors and assorted cattle, a short turnoff leads to a gated modern oasis.
Inside, at complete variance with the chaos of its surroundings, are the lakes, promenades, lush landscaping and security systems of Mahindra World City. Its modern office high rises already house 4,000 workers with space for several thousand more.
This is the first of India’s special economic zones, or S.E.Z.’s, which could offer a partial solution to the extreme weaknesses in India’s infrastructure: narrow, pothole-filled roads; erratic supplies of electricity and other utility services; and inadequate communication links.
The zone strategy borrows from China’s playbook, and in many ways, is a means to compete with China. In fact, if all goes according to government plan, hundreds of these privately run zones will sprout like miniature foreign islands, offering better infrastructure and jobs, increasing exports and attracting investment from foreigners.
For the full story, see: