This morning we met with the chief managing director of Eli Lilly India, Sandeep Gupta. The delegation was greeted with large bouquets of flowers, lit candles and the tilaka (the name for the Indian dot) was placed on our foreheads. It was most definitely a warm and friendly greeting.
The Lilly Indian facility was started in 1993 as a joint venture with Ranbaxy Labs. They currently have over 430 employees and became a Lilly subsidiary in 2001. Sixty percent of their portfolio focuses on diabetes and another 20 percent on oncology.
India does not yet have a comprehensive patent system. They did pass a law in 2005 indicating that patents could be obtained and protected in India, but it's been a very slow implementation process. As a result, there are very few patents, which can prevent companies, like Lilly, from having an even larger presence.
The cost of health care was a topic in this meeting. The Indian leaders believe health care costs in the U.S. are higher because the U.S. spends a large amount of money on research and development, where most countries do not invest as much in finding cures. Ninety percent of new molecules discovered are discovered by the U.S.
Of course, pharmaceuticals were also discussed. Brand name pharmaceuticals are important in India. The U.S. may have one brand name and several generic brands. In India, they have multiple brand names and people pay a lot of money for the brand names. Even with the focus on brand names, 650 million Indians have no access to any medicine – brand name or generic. Likewise, 80 to 90 percent of Indians are without health care insurance.
We were able to learn about India during or visit to the Lilly facility. India has approximately 1.2 billion people, four times the number of people in the U.S. Sixty percent of the Indian population is less than 30 years old, so it's a very young country. They feel like their current government is very progressive and they reward innovation and try to reduce bureaucracy.
I've mentioned the vast difference in the living standards in rural and urban areas. Seventy-one percent of the population lives in rural areas and 29 percent live in urban areas. Population growth is slowing, but the literacy rate is rising, particularly with women.
The impact of the global economy is much less significant on India than with other countries. For instance, although the global economic downturn affected India, it did not impact it nearly as negatively as some other countries. India does not have a heavy reliance on exports. They rely on their own domestic consumption. They are "domestically led," which means they are somewhat insulated from global downturns and are much less volatile.
India has the fourth largest economy in the world. In 2014, they expect to pass Japan and become the third largest economy. Fifty-five percent of their economy is service based. Their economy used to be 25 percent agriculture, but that's down to 19 percent. The percentage involved in manufacturing has also decreased, but the service industry has increased. They compare and contrast themselves frequently to China. They point out that a large part of China's economy is manufacturing.
While at Lilly, we had a “town hall” type of meeting with the employees and local leaders.
After we left Lilly, we met with Vilasrao Dagadojirao Deshmukh, the minister of heavy industries and public enterprises for the government of India.. He talked about the various industries the government is involved in. They are running airlines, making watches, running utilities, and a lot of other industries started because of a void from the lack of interest in private companies. The government is competing with the private sector. They are in a position now of turning some of these government initiatives into joint ventures and public/private partnerships.
Later in the day, we met with a senior partner in the Indian law firm of Seth Dua and Associates. The firm has 34 attorneys, which by India’s standards is mid-sized. Comparatively, Ice Miller has over 250 attorneys. In India, you must be an Indian lawyer to practice law. Several of the large law firms recently got into trouble for practicing law when they were not licensed to do so. U.S. attorneys cannot even advise Indian companies.
Next we met with the minister of urban development, Jaipal Reddy. The government is taking the problem of housing for the poor very seriously, although this is an overwhelming issue.
This evening there was a reception for the delegation. The food was fantastic. It poured down rain, but within a few minutes the heat had dried up all the moisture.
On the very last day in India we were able to visit the tomb of Mahatma Gandhi. It was a solemn place. Gandhi derived most of his principles from Hinduism, but believed all religions to be equal. He was an avid theologian and read extensively about all major religions. As we left the tomb, I was surrounded by Indian families who wanted to take pictures with me and their children. I assume it was unusual for them to see the western attire and blonde hair. There was a high terrorist alert so we were unable to visit any other locations. We were advised to stay in our hotel, especially me as a blonde female. It made me realize how I can take for granted how safe we are in the U.S.
We are now on our way home! I’m ready to be back in Indiana, but I look forward to applying the lessons from this trip to helping Indian companies have even more economic success.