YK Hamied, non-executive chairman, Cipla

Synopsis

Cipla may be privately owned, but effectively it has been a ‘national asset’ — with each brick representing Indian ingenuity, enterprise, and strength of character. While shareholders will most likely have no reason to complain, the end losers of Cipla’s founding family’s potential exit will be millions of underprivileged patients in India and the developing world.

In July 1939, when Mahatma Gandhi visited four-year-old Cipla’s Mumbai headquarters, he reportedly extracted a commitment from its founder, Khwaja Abdul Hamied. It was that the pharmaceutical company would support the supply of medicines needed in the ongoing World War II. But more importantly, Gandhi made Hamied promise that no Indian would ever be denied access to essential medicines. Those were the days when almost all medicines were

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