October 24, 2020
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Hyderabad Blues

K. Anji Reddy's memoir is as no-nonsense and business-like as the man himself.

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Hyderabad Blues
Hyderabad Blues

Pharma Big Daddy Pens His Memoirs 

It is well known that Dr Reddy's Laboratories is one of India’s top pharmaceuticals company. Its founder K Anji Reddy - who started his career in the pharma world in the now defunct Indian Drugs and Pharmaceuticals Ltd (IDPL) - has been a source of inspiration for many not just in drug manufacturing but to several industrialists across the country. Hence, his memoirs, An Unfinished Agenda, which was released recently by his son Chairman and CEO Satish Reddy, son-in-law G V Prasad and Sun Pharmaceutical MD Dilip S Shanghvi, has generated some interest. The book is as no-nonsense and business-like as Anji Reddy is.

The pharma baron who was born in Tadepalli, near the banks of Krishna, close to Vijayawada, narrates his life's journey in sometimes academic language, but overall it is an inspiring story. The son of a turmeric farmer who went on to build the biggest essential drugs lab did well to tell his tale in the form of a book. 

Like fiction writers, Anji Reddy uses the age-old technique of juxtaposing historical events with highs and lows his own career. He talks of how the chemistry bug bit him in the Andhra Christian College, Guntur. And during his days as a student in University Department of Chemical Technology, Bombay, Anji Reddy dreamt of setting up a factory like Pfizer.

But it was in IDPL where Anji Reddy "learnt the tricks of the trade". Anji Reddy, who has been the founder of two companies -- Uniloids and Standard Organics -- with others before setting up Dr Reddy's. He talks of bitter falling- out with his partners in the previous companies and finally striking gold with his third venture. Anji Reddy was deeply influenced by America's mission to the moon, Apollo 11, in 1969. The emotions unleashed by Neil Armstrong's historic feat of being the first man on the moon were immense for Anji Reddy. That was when he decided that there was nothing more heroic than venturing into unchartered territory.

Also, exactly three weeks before Dr Reddy's Consultancy Services was incorporated, space shuttle Challenger had blasted off under the command of Vance Brand. That was the time Anji Reddy wondered what it would feel like to soar in infinite space. "It seemed to be a good augury for my third foray as an entrepreneur along with Purushotama Chary and Murali K Divi, two very competent people with whom I had worked earlier," he writes.

Anji Reddy chronicles the turmoil in the chemical industry after the Bhopal gas tragedy, the political repercussions of the Emergency, his pride in seeing N T Rama Rao rise, his association with Chandrababu Naidu and the like. 

Present at the book launch were Congress leader T Subbarami Reddy, his socialite daughter Pinky Reddy, members of the Little Theatre group such as Shankar Melkote, Vijay Marur, Sarla Mahidhara and Chandana Chakraborty. They read some extracts from the book, stumbling over words such as Metronidazole, methyldopa.

Satish Reddy's schoolmate, filmmaker Nagesh Kukunoor, was present in the audience cheering his friend on. Later over dinner, he chatted with this correspondent about his friendship and how four of them always take holidays together and try to meet at least once a year. As I stuck to ice-cream and fruit for dessert, Kukunoor loaded his plate with Hyderabad's famous 'Double ka Meetha' and suggested I do the same. To give the man credit, Kukunoor has a humility about him which is rare among the Bollywood people. All the aunties of Hyderabad "lurv him" and chase him around in real life just as they did in Hyderabad Blues.

KCR Sends His Health Minister Packing

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao sent shock waves among his senior party leaders by sacking Deputy Chief Minister T Rajaiah (Health) for alleged corruption in the Health Ministry and inefficiency in dealing with the swine flu crisis that has claimed 22 lives so far. KCR wasted no time in getting a new Cabinet Minister Kadiam Srihari while reallocating the Health portfolio to C Laxma Reddy. Rajaiah claimed he had done nothing and that KCR continued to be his God.

There were reports that KCR was left fuming when Rajaiah shot off a letter to the CM saying the latter had "over-reacted". "Soon after the outbreak of swine flu, I visited various hospitals for three days, told the patients not to panic and tried to instill confidence among them. But you have taken up the issue with the PM and Union health minister. This over-reaction has created panic among people as they started rushing to hospitals even for minor coughs and fevers. What have you achieved with this except helping doctors and hospitals? Also your decision to bring swine flu under Arogyasri benefited corporate hospitals."

Soon after, Rajaiah was issued his sack orders. It was a bitter lesson for Rajaiah who has since been admitted to a hospital with chest pain where he is recovering currently.

Strong Denial About KCR’s Health Issues

There have been many rumours about the Telangana Chief Minister's health problems. Whispers abound about how he needs a liver transplant. Another section says that KCR's son K T Rama Rao might donate a part of his liver to his father. But when this correspondent asked K T Rama Rao about the rumours, he denied them all. "These are all just frivolous rumours. Nothing is wrong with my father's health. He is hale and hearty and certainly does not need any liver transplant."

Zen And The Art Of Being Naidu

Chandrababu Naidu has always had a thing for zen. It is little wonder then that he has lined up his Cabinet ministers, IAS, IFS and IPS officers for a three-day course in Inner Engineering by Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev's Isha Foundation. The babus and netas will learn yoga prakriyas and asanas from about 100 volunteers of the Isha Foundation. The workshop would consist of asanas, meditation, Shambhavi mahamudra and interactive sessions. Naidu hit upon the idea when he recently met with Jaggi Vasudev. Naidu mentioned to the Sadhguru that his officers and party members would need "inner strength" to cope with the challenges of a new state. Incidentally, the foundation, which charges handsomely from commoners, will be conducting these sessions free of cost.

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