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Rishikesha T. Krishnan

THE RANBAXY STORY: THE RISE OF AN INDIAN MULTINATIONAL
By Bhupesh Bhandari
Penguin/Viking, New Delhi,, 2005, pp. 240, Rs. 450.00

VOLUME XXX NUMBER 1-2 January-February 2006

Outside the Information Technology industry, Ranbaxy is India’s most genuinely multinational company. This well-researched book tells the story of Ranbaxy’s evolution. Bhupesh Bhandari has woven the tale well – it has strong personalities, serendipitous events, the twists and turns of policy changes, and even intrigue. Far from being a dry account of business history, The Ranbaxy Story is thus a highly readable work of contemporary business history.   This story has two central characters – Bhai Mohan Singh, the patriarch with his roots in present-day Pakistan, a businessman of the old school, opportunistic in thinking and with the grace and manner to build relationships with anyone who could possibly help his business interests. “Dr. Singh” is the other, the scholarly son of Bhai Mohan Singh with a Ph.D. in Pharmacy from a top American University, a sharp contrast to his father, quiet, taciturn, aloof. Bhai Mohan Singh created the base for Ranbaxy, Dr. Parvinder Singh transformed it into what it is today – the largest Indian pharmaceutical company, with a distinctly international footprint, and global ambitions. Bhandari gives us a close insight into their falling-out, a microcosm of the generation gap between the successful businessmen of license-permit Raj and their progeny seeking their destiny in a deregulated world of new opportunity.   Business histories often focus on patriarchs and chief executive officers, relegating their followers and team members to nonexistence, thus perpetuating a myth that corporations were built singlehanded through the genius of charismatic individuals. One of the nice things about this book is that the author resists this temptation. Instead, he tells us about many of the others who contributed to the growth of Ranbaxy like J.M. Khanna who built up the R&D department, Deepak Chattaraj and Sanjay Kaul who set up many of Ranbaxy’s international business ventures, and above all, D.S. Brar, Dr. Parvinder Singh’s closest associate and alter-ego who managed Ranbaxy in the years immediately after Dr. Singh’s untimely demise.   For the uninitiated, Bhandari also provides historical sketches of the world’s great pharmaceutical companies such as Roche, Glaxo, Pfizer, and Eli Lilly. Almost all of them owe their origin to idealistic founders. Parvinder Singh clearly belongs to this community of idealistic visionaries though with a different flavour than that of Cipla’s Y.K. Hamied. Thus Singh was one of the earliest in the Indian pharma industry to embrace the new intellectual ...


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