history
Chennai
 

Madras was the capital of the Madras Presidency and thus became home to important commercial organisations. Breaking with the tradition of the closed and almost wholly British controlled system of the English East India Company, The Madras Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1836 by Fredrick Adam, Governor of the Madras Presidency (the second oldest Chamber of Commerce in the country). Thereafter in a nod to the declining fortunes of the British textile owners and skilled workers who were still extant in the city, the Madras Trades Association was established in 1856, by which the old colonial families still involved in the skilled and textile trades were granted entry into the British and Indian financial trade system. In turn, the Madras Stock Exchange was established in 1920. In 1906, the city experienced a financial crisis with the failure of its leading merchant bank, Arbuthnot & Co. The crisis also imperiled Parry & Co and Binny & Co, but both found rescuers. The lawyer V. Krishnaswamy Iyer made a name for himself representing claimants, mostly wealthy Hindus and Muslims who had lent money on the failed bank. The next year, flush with funds won from the original British owners who had capitalized the bank, he organized a group of Chettiar merchants to found Indian Bank, with which he funded new Indian enterprises and broke into the previously closed ranks of the British financial system. The bank still has its corporate headquarters in the city.

During World War I, Madras (Chennai) was shelled by the German light cruiser SMS Emden, resulting in 5 civilian deaths and 26 wounded. The crew of a merchant ship also destroyed by the Germans that night.

Today, modern Chennai, formerly known as Madras is a large commercial and industrial centre, and is known for its cultural heritage and temple architecture. Chennai is the automobile capital of India, with around forty percent of the automobile industry having a base there and with a major portion of the nation's vehicles being produced there. Chennai is also referred as the Detroit of South Asia. It is a major manufacturing centre. Chennai has also become a major centre for outsourced IT and financial services from the Western world.

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