Insight Online News
Pune, Aug 13 : Recalling how the industry used to face “hardships” in securing permissions and “harassment from bureaucrats” 50 years ago, chairman of the city-based vaccine maker Serum Institute of India (SII), Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, on Friday hailed the Modi government saying that red-tapism and licence raj have come down under his government.
Mr Poonawalla was speaking at an event where he received the Lokmanyat Tilak National Award instituted by the Lokmanya Tilak Trust here on Friday.
He also said that in the past, he had to “fall at the feet” of bureaucrats and drug controllers in order to get permissions, and added that the situation has changed now, which resulted in the quick launch of SII’s COVID-19 vaccine – Covishield.
“Serum Institute was founded in 1966 the morning after my marriage with Villoo, my dear late wife, to whom I dedicate this award. Fifty years ago, the industry had to face hardships in getting basic facilities like power, water and permissions from bureaucrats. I was not supposed to say this,” he said.
“Transport and communication were also great problems and challenges that were faced by my staff and fellow directors…It was a long journey and a very painful one, which has now become very rewarding. I had to fall at the feet of bureaucrats and drug controllers, etc, to get permissions. But I must stress that difficulties, red tape are much reduced now under the Modi government,” he said.
“One of the major reasons we could launch our COVID vaccine quickly was due to forthcoming grants, permission, encouragement to industries & considerably reduced licensing raj. We have a Drug Controller who responds even after office hours. There is no need for ‘maska polish’ now,” he said.
Talking about the award, he told that he values it a lot although he had been honoured in America, the UK and various other countries in the past, but this was special because it has been given to him in his own country.
Speaking on the occasion, Deepak Tilak, president of the Lokmanya Tilak Trust, said, “In unstable and challenging conditions, SII took immense efforts to develop an indigenous vaccine, which mitigated panic associated with COVID-19. This is the result of the effort and solid support of Dr Cyrus Poonawalla to his team.”
Former Union minister and senior Congress leader Sushil Kumar Shinde also lauded Poonawalla for his work and said that with the SII vaccine was saving lakhs of lives.