Dr Reddy wanted to build a company to last 500 years
The Hans India | 26 July 2013 12:20 AM GMT
He was a rare combination of a great scientist, entrepreneur, philanthropist and a humanitarian; passionate about science, compassionate to the core...
He was a rare combination of a great scientist, entrepreneur, philanthropist and a humanitarian; passionate about science, compassionate to the core and a true practitioner of giving. A first-generation entrepreneur who left a public sector job to start Dr Reddy's Laboratories in 1984, Dr Anji Reddy had a fascination for drug discovery. He had set up a lab in his "grape-garden" and would tend to it every day. "Drug discovery is like an addiction�everyday something doesn't happen, but the day you have a dramatic result you feel that there's something that could change the way people live. That gives you the real kick," he said. In 1993, DRL became the first company to set up a dedicated R&D centre and he recalled how within the first 2-3 years he licensed three molecules to big pharma. Several years later and even after stepping down as chairman of the company, he remained passionate. "Making one more generic drug doesn't give me any kick," he said. Once when he was travelling to London, cine star Amitabh Bachchan was on the same flight, who incidentally had a co-passenger who snored. The next morning, Bachchan came up to him and said, "Dr Reddy, why don't you discover a drug for snoring?" Dr Reddy, who was moved by Bachchan's performance as an Alzheimer's patient in the movie Black, said, "I don't have a drug for snoring but I am working on a drug for Alzheimer's." Perhaps Dr Reddy understood that a solid R&D foundation could sustain a company for several generations by continually adding new products to the pipeline. He admired the book, "Built to Last" and wanted to nurture his company just like the American family built Merck. "I want to build a company that'd last 500 years, Merck is 640 years old," he said. So serious was he about following Merck that when DRL struck a deal with the multinational for a monoclonal antibody, Dr Reddy hosted the head of the family of the 13th generation and got his own family to know the history of Merck's family organisation. Dr Reddy's mission was to make drugs affordable to people. He started Dr Reddy's Laboratories with an investment of Rs 25 lakh and made it the second largest pharma company in India with a turnover of $ 6 billion. As a philanthropist, he wanted to pay back to society. "It is not a crime to make profit, but pay back to society," was his appeal to entrepreneurs. "Yes, we all have complaints against the government for not doing enough. But it's also time for us to wonder if our lives resemble independent silos; whether we have become indifferent to what happens around us; whether we run lives mechanically without any time for matters that touch others' lives." In 1998, Dr Reddy established Naandi Foundation that works on several causes for the under-privileged, with like-minded corporate houses (such as Mahindra & Mahindra), various State governments (mainly Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Nagaland, Haryana, Maharashtra and Punjab) and several welfare institutions (Dell Foundation, Google Foundation, Ratan Tata Trust and the World Bank). Naandi means 'new beginning' or 'dawn' and that's what it is working towards. The organisation has been able to improve the lives of over 4 million people across India and is in a constant effort to reach out to as many people from disadvantaged communities as possible. Some of the focus areas at Naandi include mid-day school meal programme in government-run schools in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh to serve one million school students hot, nutritious food every day. They have set up state-of-the-art kitchens to ensure that the food is delivered on time and prepared in a hygienic manner. Naandi has tied up with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition to ensure that highest levels of nutrition are maintained. Efforts are being made to ensure that everyone has access to safe drinking water and delivers WHO-certified-level drinking water at 10 paise a litre to over 500 villages across the country. Naandi has enabled over 30,000 small and marginal farmers to improve productivity and gain higher incomes for their farm produce. Apart from providing technical support to the farmers, Naandi's work predominantly lies in building farmer collectives so that the economies of scale thus produced help them secure better credit facilities, bargaining power and market linkages for the small farmers. Giving Back to Society through the Power of 10, corporate employees and individuals are encouraged to contribute to less privileged sections of society. The aim is to encourage each citizen to contribute a fraction of their salary (Rs 10) on a daily or monthly basis to a cause of their choice. A Through drug research and the Naandi Foundation, Dr Reddy has left behind a great legacy. OPINION