Kerala Man Who Had Quit IAS, Became India’s Biggest Manufacturer Of Blood Bags

The year was 1983 when Balagopal Chandrasekhar 30 year old officer of the Indian Administrative Service , at that time he visited the Sree Chitra tirunal institute for medical sciences and Technology in in Thiruvananthapuram out of curiosity after reading the news and articles and other reports associated with research and development about bag to facilitate blood transfer.

He meet with professor A V Ramani and came to known in 1999 when Paul introduced into a joint venture with the corporation of Japan which is the biggest manufacturer of blood bags in India and one of the world’s biggest makers of high tech bio medical device all over the world.

“Professor Ramani believed that Indian industry was missing out on game-changing research of national institutions like the Sree Chitra Institute because of the false notion that Indian scientific and technological capabilities were of inferior quality. This false notion, he believed, prevented many Indian technologists and industrialists from taking their ideas further. Citing the example of the Sree Chitra Institute, he said that it was making bio-medical devices that very few companies in the world could access. He felt that anyone starting a venture based on the technologies they were developing would be able to get into the ground floor of a vast and expanding market of healthcare products,” recalls Balagopal.

We have to consider that this conversation and meeting and all the stuff where happening in the early 1980 when our economic policy had been freedom innately driven by such agendas like import substitution and saving foreign exchange can increase our economical stability. Indian could enable a quality blood transfusion service without loosing too mu9ch foreign exchange.

Balagopalji recalls “However, my main motivating factor was not saving foreign exchange, but taking Indian science and technology to the world. I had finally found meaning and purpose in my life,”

He had spend his most of his childhood in rubber and tea estates across wayanad and the nilgiris, he mostly grew up in relative previledge born on 2nd October 1952 in Kollam, Kerala. His father is a manager by his profession. If i give you , a timeline of his study life , then i have to mention those name Loyola College, Chennai, Madras University and University of kerala ( phd).

During his phd course he also cracked UPSC in 1976. Then he joined the IAS in July 1977. And posted as a trainee in Tamenglong district.

But but the real disaster accomplished in the year of 1979 the untimely death of his younger brother Ram and his father’s illness all this make Bhala Gopal had applied for and in definite leave do his seniors advised against such a move this early in his career and that’s why I by the middle of 1980 the health him of 3 and inter Cadbre deputation back to Kerala.

At first there he said as SDO of Kollam before posted in a public service undertaking under the Government of Kerala. But then he returned to Manipur but things weren’t same anymore. And after all devastating circumstances his doubts begun o Creep on me about something in my IAS was the life he wanted.

“Like many youngsters of my generation, there was very little clarity on what we wanted to do with our lives. My decision to get into the IAS was driven by my parents’ desire that I join the service. But I enjoyed my time in the IAS too and even wrote three books about it,” he recalls.

Then he thinks of his own entrepreneurship idea and started a company for ore producing blood bags. At first face of the company , the technological knowledge they obtained from Sree Chitra Institute. because the process of making product in blood is too tough as we can see that there are only 6 companies are there in the world produces blood bags .

Kerala Man Who Had Quit IAS, Became India's Biggest Manufacturer Of Blood Bags

At that time his competitor were all government institutions like KSIDC, IDBI, NRDC.

“Though the product looked fairly simple to make, we later understood why there were only six manufacturers of blood bags in the world. It’s a tough product to make. We learnt everything the hard way because the technological know-how was closely guarded by global multinationals dominating the field. There was barely any academic literature and we had no internet available at the time to seek answers. We had to learn by trial and error,” he says.

However, the company had a couple of things going for them.

They had Dr CSB Nair, a scientist and an experienced polymer chemist who had experience in developing intellectual property and patents, who was coaxed out of retirement.

Building a small team around Dr Nair, Balagopal delegated the task of monitoring the transfer of technology from the laboratory to industrial scale manufacturing to Dr Nair’s team. Liaising with the Sree Chitra Institute, Dr Nair asked the right questions and conducted regular experiments to ensure they got the blood bag technology right. Dr Nair was in his 60s when he joined Penpol. He retired from the company at 95, only a couple of months back.

“We had to take a strategic call and I decided that if we can’t beat them, let us join them. So, I started talking to the big boys. This process began in the mid-1990s and by 1999, we signed a joint venture deal with the Terumo Corporation. They became part of the company by buying out all the financial institutions, leaving just Terumo, my brother C. Padmakumar, who was the executive director and I, the managing director. As part of the deal, our (brothers) shareholding grew to 26%. Terumo wanted to ensure that my brother and I had enough skin in the game to remain interested in the company,” recalls Balagopal.

Then Balagopal added the capital and culture from Japan, to his company as i already have mentioned before . But i just want to add a words that sir had mentioned “We gained immensely from the quality and philosophy of their shop floor management system. We were able to learn all these things from the horse’s mouth because we had experienced technical persons from Japan living in Thiruvananthapuram who had taken up apartments in the city and were working full time in our factory,”

His greatness not only bouded by his serving career. “We support the Sunbird Trust started by Colonel (Retd) Christopher Rego for the building of schools, laboratories, computer centres and hostels in the remote hill villages of Manipur. In addition, we are funding David Gandhi, an agricultural scientist who is helping remote villages adopt eco-friendly farming practices. We are also supporting three local organisations—Recognize, Rise and Empower Association (RREA), an education initiative, MaolKeki Foundation, a livelihoods initiative and the Entrepreneurs Associate,”

Source: The Better India

Aditya Santra
" Came to inundate this world of dichotomy with words of adherence where limitation knows no deterrent "

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