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In such cases, mobs often quickly form and attack the surviving driver, regardless of whether he was at fault. I came upon half a dozen accidents during my travels on the GQ, and invariably the crowd was agitated, far more interested in meting out justice than in giving first aid to the poor soul broken and bleeding in the roadway. One night, Rakesh says, he collided with an auto rickshaw that recklessly pulled out in front of him. As he tried to help the rickshaw driver, he noted with alarm that a mob was forming, yelling for the truck driver's blood. He quickly slipped in among them and joined the chorus shouting, "Where is that sonofabitch driver? Kill him!"

If not for the GQ, 29-year-old Tamil Selvan might still be farming coconuts in his village in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Instead, young Tamil dutifully rode his father's bicycle to and from a government school in a larger village a few miles away. Next he attended a technical institute in a nearby town, and now he works as a senior technician at the giant Hyundai car factory on the GQ just west of Chennai, finding and fixing flaws in the silvery metal shells that come sweeping down the assembly line, pausing at each workstation for an average of 64 seconds. Once assembled, his handiwork is painted and polished and shipped, via trucks on the GQ, to the port at Chennai and then all over the world—an outcome that, even after ten years on the job, Tamil still finds hard to fathom. "Think of all the things these cars endure during their lifetimes"—he says earnestly—"all the extremes of weather, the different roads and traffic around the world. It's hard to believe their journey starts here."

Tamil, a quiet, solidly built family man with a mustache, spends his nine-hour workday in a uniform—dark blue polo shirt and pants, white dust mask, orange earplugs, white gloves—and seems always to have a tool in his hand. He was one of Hyundai's original hires in 1998, after the South Korean automaker built its factory here on a flat, 535-acre tract of land. Today Hyundai's 5,400 employees embody the qualities that have helped make India one of the hottest destinations in the world for manufacturers. Martii Salomaa, a Finnish manager at the neighboring Nokia factory that opened in 2006 and now employs 9,000 people, says India has "the most amazing workforce in the world. People here are creative, driven, full of energy and new ideas. You don't need to push them, because they push each other relentlessly; the challenge is channeling their incredible energy."

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