Readers would always pick up this one to understand the life and times of Dilip Sanghvi, the Big Boss of Sun Pharmaceuticals, writes the reviewer.
‘The Reluctant Billionaire’ hit the stands a few weeks before another tome from a reporter of New York Times lampooned Indian drug companies, painting them with a dark brush. But that does not matter? Readers would always pick up this one to understand the life and times of Dilip Sanghvi, the Big Boss of Sun Pharmaceuticals.
Let’s talk about figures first because it’s all about billionaires and their businesses.
Sanghvi, 63, holds 98.28 percent of SFPL, the major investments of which are in Sun Pharmaceutical and Sun Pharmaceutical Advanced Research (holding 40 percent in the first and 52 percent in the second). If you look at the market value of these investments, you will realise it’s almost close to Rs 50,000 crores. SFPL’s total assets had amounted to Rs 72,436.31 crore at the end of FY18. Though there have been some concerns over the company’s corporate governance following a whistleblower’s complaint, it should not take away from the company’s achievements and that of the most genial head, Dilip Sanghvi.
Soma Das does a brilliant mapping of the person who actually loves to stay out of breaking headlines, the book says how, in 2015, described his being the richest Indian in just two words: Very Uncomfortable. He knew his net worth had crossed that of the powerful Mukesh Ambani. Both belong to Western India and comparisons were all but inevitable. But the genial Sanghvi - true to his self - played it down. Very few Indian billionaires would do it if they had scaled such an achievement.
Consider this one. Bulk of Sanghvi’s big thought discussions happened not in some swanky boardroom lined with mahogany furniture. It happened in a nondescript office in Ville Parle, close to the Mumbai airport. There were times when Sanghvi carried loads of books on medicinal drugs, their effects and directions for use. It was actually Sanghvi’s Cafeteria Approach. They want drugs for all use, they knew India is a billion plus nation. The search for drugs was meticulously done, almost like a director’s eye seeking details in a film shot. That Sanghvi also wanted to develop drugs like Tetrabenazine for use by those affected with Parkinson’s disease - not a big market as compared to cancer, or diabetes - shows cash and profit books were not always uppermost on his mind. He planned drugs, and also drugs for its side effects. Uppermost on this thought was the tired, harassed patient. He made doctors - often berated in India for being selfish and always working for cash - realise their duties towards patients. It is like reminding someone of a sacred, secret oath before entering a profession. This was no small task, Sanghvi did it because he knew what India needs, what Indians need. He made many realise liver is the new heart, and that it needs to be taken care because replacements are expensive.
Can this book be sold to hundreds and thousands of MBBS students across the country? The publisher must make some efforts to get the writer do a series of talks on how big businesses emerge out of thin airs, how big dreams are shaped. This tome is an effortless read - that’s how such books should be - and the smooth copy will easily help everyone understand the man and his subject. It’s like getting a fresh Vada Pao just before lunch break, around the time when you have come down from your office at Nariman Point and wondering whether to go for a street food stall or a Starbucks. You don't make any effort, your mind guides you to the right place, right spot, right menu.
This is a brilliant read.