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How Much is 50,000?

January 12, 2012

As recently wrote in the article “Japanese Gov’t to Export a ‘City’ to Chennai,” Japanese government, partnered with its private sector, is building an industrial complex with a capability to accommodate 50,000 residents. This sounds a huge opportunity to Chennai, but how big is a township of 50,000 people really?

Here are two cities and one country with a similar size for your comparison: Palo Alto, California, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo, and Cayman Islands.

Palo Alto, California – Pop. 64,403

The city of Palo Alto, the heart of Silicon Valley, has a population a little more than 50,000. The city is the birthplace of Hewlett-Packard. Google and Facebook were bred there, too. And Steve Jobs has ended his eventful life at his house in Palo Alto.

Can Chennai, currently known as “the Detroit of India,” become “the Silicon Valley of India?” Not likely, as Bangalore has already claimed that name. However, as the Stanford University served as the supplier of young entrepreneurs to the Valley, Chennai has  University of Madras, IIT Madras and other well-known universities to produce young and smart Indians to the business world. Is it possible for some of them to see an opportunities in the booming town of Chennai and come up with a next generation of Google and Facebook? Most likely.

Cayman Islands – Pop. 54,878

Cayman Islands, a series of beautiful islands famous for world-class scuba diving in Caribbean Sea, is technically not a country but a British overseas territory, also famous as a tax haven, attracting a lot of foreign investment. In their fight against corruption, on one hand, India has implemented the tax information exchange agreement with Cayman, to prevent rich Indian business people and government officials from transferring money out of India. On the other hand, India is going to allow direct investment from foreigners to attract money formally invested in a country like Cayman.

Another bond between this small country on the other side of the globe and India is the Commonwealth, an international organization of 54 states constituted the good old British Empire. Influenced by the Queen, the countries in the Commonwealth shared some common culture like drinking tea (not much in Chennai, sorry) and playing cricket.

Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo – Pop. 47,740

Located in the dead center of Tokyo, Chiyoda-ku is the hometown of the Emperor of Japan. His palace, surrounded by 10km of moat, occupies 15% of the district, which also hosts the central government and the headquarters of many major Japanese enterprises. Akihabara, a paradise for computer geeks and anime fans, is also in Chiyoda-ku, as well as the embassy of India.

Oh, by the way, in Japan, on average per 50,000 people, there are 18 convenience stores, 13 Sushi restaurants and Ramen noodle shops, and 6 Karaoke bars. That sounds a paradise for me.

Today’s Lesson

This new city has potential to become a hometown of Steve Jobs’ reincarnation, a destination of foreign investment, and also my weekend destination for a Sushi & Kareoke night (followed by a after-drink Ramen)!

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