Serum Institute of India’s chairman Dr Cyrus Poonawalla, father of CEO Adar Poonawalla, has lauded Prime Minister Narendra Modi while reminiscing how life was not easy for vaccine makers before his regime, as he had to “fall on the feet” of bureaucrats and drug controllers to get required permissions for vaccine launch.
The founder-chairperson of the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) was speaking after receiving the prestigious Lokmanya Tilak National Award 2021 on August 13 (Friday). He was conferred with the award for his contribution to the health sector as well as the vaccine production in the country.
‘Licence-raj’ curtailed under PM Modi’s regime, no need for ‘maska polish’: Serum Insitutue’s Cyrus Poonawalla
The SII chairman said during the event that unlike earlier, there is no need to do ‘maska polish’, referring to appeasing officers in charge, under PM Modi’s regime. This, he said, is the reason why Serum’s Covishield was launched so quickly.
“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 faced hardships in getting basic facilities like power, water and getting permission from bureaucrats. It had to face harassment from bureaucrats…I was not supposed to say this,” he said recalling the governmental and bureaucratic hurdles during the UPA regime.
He hailed PM Modi for curtailing the prevalent “licence raj and “red-tapism”. Dr Cyrus Poonawalla added: “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 permission. But I must stress that difficulties, red tape are much reduced now under the Modi government.”
Appreciating how PM Modi has encouraged the sector and assisted it to grow, the chairman of Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine maker by the volume of doses it produces every year, further said: “Certainly, one of the major reasons why we could launch our vaccine so quickly was forthcoming grant or permission, encouragement to industries as the licence raj has come down considerably. We have got a drug controller, who responds in the evening even after office hours. There is no need for ‘maska polish’ now”, added Dr Poonawalla.
Cyrus Poonawalla dedicated the award to his late wife Villoo and said that he has received numerous awards in the United States, the United Kingdom, but the Lokmanya Tilak award is very special to him.
Congress created hurdles for Serum Institute and others during the swine flu epidemic
For the uninitiated, Cyrus Poonawalla, who is the father of SII CEO Adar Poonawalla, founded the Serum Institute of India in 1966. Ever since the pandemic broke out necessitating countries to roll out vaccines that prevent COVID-19 on an urgent basis, Cyrus Poonawalla’s Serum Institute has been at the forefront of India’s fight against the Coronavirus pandemic.
The world’s largest vaccine maker boosted mass production and helped immunise millions of people around the world with substantial government support under the Modi regime. SII presently produces 6.5 crore Covishield dosages per month (developed by Oxford-AstraZeneca).
However, the situation was entirely different when the country was hit with Swine influenza’s 2009 pandemic. At that time, the UPA government had left Serum Institute of India and other firms in the doldrums, despite its assurance of authorized marketing commitment (AMC) to procure H1N1 vaccines.
Congress, left-liberal lobby at the helm of creating vaccine hesitancy in India
After successfully derailing plans to mass vaccinate the people against swine flu, the Congress party along with its vicious lobby held on to the agenda of hindering India’s vaccination drive against Coronavirus. Fuelled by a collective hatred for PM Modi, they targetted the vaccine manufacturers in a bid to demoralize them.