A delegation of 40 comprising mostly pharmacists and some of their spouses recently paid a visit to India. The ten-day trip organized by Laborex Cameroun took the visitors to Mumbai, Jaipur, Agra, Bhiwadi and Delhi. The primary purpose for visiting India was for sightseeing but the group managed to squeeze some time to visit two pharmaceutical manufacturing units.
The visit started from Mumbai (India’s commercial and financial centre) with visits to the Island of Elephanta and other sites of historical and cultural significance to India.
Mumbai streets, like most streets in India are filled with boxy cabs, modified rickshas attached to bicycles and three-wheeled vehicles (a form of hybrid between motorbikes and cars). Hawkers and beggars try to outmatch one another in drawing the attention of visitors.
(photos gateway to India, and Mumbai)
It does not take long for a visitor to notice the distinguishing features of this Indian city of less than three million people. This is a city where almost all houses are painted with the same pink colour and the imposing relics of her imperial past in the form of palaces and fortresses are a common sight. Situated some 250 kilometres South West of Delhi, Jaipur is the capital of the mostly arid Indian state of Rajasthan (land of the Rajputana).
We visited one of the impressive palace complexes at Amer on the outskirts of Jaipur called Amber fort. Perched on top of a hill with other imperial complexes, this was used as the summer palace by the imperial (Maharaja) ruler. The opulence and luxury emanating from the palace that we gained access on the back of elephants bore testimony to the insatiable taste of the Indian rulers of yesteryears.
(See Jaipur photos)
Though a small city of about 1.5 million lying 150 kilometres south east of Delhi, Agra attracts many visitors because of the fort and the Taj Mahal. The Taj Mahal is simply a jewel. It is the embodiment of beauty, architectural excellence and splendour. According to the publication Glorious Cities, Delhi Agra & Jaipur “It is believed that nearly 20000 people worked incessantly for almost 22 years (1631-1653) to bring this project to a fine fruition.” It is said that over 20,000 locals and over two thousand foreigners visit this monument daily. Foreigners pay about 10000cfa and Indians less than 250 cfa entry fees into this ‘edifice of love’ said to be constructed by emperor Shah Jahan in honour of his beloved wife. (See photo of Cameroonian pharmacists at the Taj and the fort on these links)
At Bhiwadi, we visited the pharmaceutical manufacturing company (Medicamen) and were shown the various manufacturing processes. The company is in partnership with Missionpharma of Denmark and it employs 35 pharmacists and hundreds of other workers.
In a chat with the eldest pharmacist on the plant Mr. S.L. Sobti, he had this to say; “I have retired from the civil service and I thought it will be nice to give a helping hand to this young company”. In an answer to another question on the profession, he said; “Today India graduates about 30,000 pharmacists annually and there are over 20, 000 pharmaceutical manufacturing units in the country”. This statement confirms the position of India as a leading player in the global pharmaceutical industry.
(See photo of Cameroonian pharmacists at Bhiwadi on following link).
Any visitor arriving Delhi for the first time cannot fail to notice the obsession for trees and flowers exhibited by inhabitants of this mega city. The streets are large and the city has two ring roads (inner and outer) surrounding it. There is extensive ongoing work on giant flyovers and underground railway system. In order to reduce pollution, taxis and city buses are compelled to use compressed natural gas (CNG) in place of petrol and diesel. An inscription on one of the public transport buses read; “world’s largest eco-friendly bus service; serving you for over 50 years”.
We made a professional trip to one of Ranbaxy’s (pharmaceutical manufacturer) research and development units at Gurgaon near Delhi. A company spokeswoman briefed us on certain aspects of the company. “Incorporated in 1961, Ranbaxy’s 2004 global sales amounted to $ 1.178 billion and objective is to attain $ 5 billion by 2012. More than 50% revenue comes from the U.S. and Europe. Global generic rank=9. Manpower is 9000 comprising of 15% non-Indian. Manufacturing units present in 7 countries including Nigeria in Africa. The R&D section has a staff strength of 1100 comprising over 950 scientists out of which 320 have doctorate degrees. 7.47% of Ranbaxy’s 2004 expenditure was on research and development.” We made a tour of the facility and were shown the various compartments such as pre-formulation, instrument labs, dark room and chemistry labs.
Delhi has beautiful and modern places like the Raj Ghat (M. Gandhi cremation site) and the Bahai Centre with the attractive lotus temple. She also has antiquity like temples and imperial monuments. India as a whole is full of colour and contradictions. Here, some people live in unbelievable opulence with all the luxury you can find in any part of the world while others live on the streets in a class of the poorest of the poor of our world. The gap between the rich and the poor is one social factor that distinguishes India from her other fast developing giant neighbour (China) to the north. (See Delhi Photos on links below)
Copyrightã2005 by Njei Moses Timah
Njei Moses Timah