When Dr. Reddy agreed to be founder chair of the board of Naandi Foundation in 1998 at the behest of the then Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh – it was a unique coming together of polity and business with a shared vision of eradicating poverty. Being aware of the critical need for a daring, forward-looking and visionary CEO, Dr. Reddy waited till he found the right man – the thirty-year-old Manoj Kumar – in 2000. At the same time inspiring and watchful, Dr. Reddy urged Manoj to push all frontiers and create, within a decade, the largest and fastest growing not-for-profit in the country which boldly outsourced government programmes and took up work on a scale hitherto unprecedented in the NGO sector. As this first decade of exhilarating growth came to a close, Dr. Reddy saw the opportunity for growth and further scale, in the realm of ‘social business’ and once again, in a first-ever move in the development world, led Manoj to spin off one portfolio after another of Naandi Foundation into a business enterprise.
For the rest of the Naandi family, Dr. Reddy was a leader who could make the impossible possible, a benchmark of professionalism and a father figure rolled into one. He would speak out his dream (“when will every person in every village of India have safe water to drink”, to give just one instance), and the whole Naandi team led by the CEO would not rest till they had come up with a viable plan to make this dream a reality – such was his inspiring leadership.
Dreaming big, and making the big dreams come true – always with the poorest man in India at the centre of these dreams – is something that characterised Dr. Reddy’s work throughout his life. He is remembered by the world for his contribution in making pharma products globally competitive and ensuring that medicines were affordable to the common man. He was especially recognised for his passion in leveraging genuine technological interventions and making active pharmaceutical ingredients and formulations effective by getting out medicines into the market in the shortest possible time.
The son of a turmeric farmer in rural Andhra Pradesh, he went to a local government school and received his first Bachelor of Science degree from a local college. Thereafter he did his BSc-Tech in Pharmaceuticals and Fine Chemicals from UDCT, Mumbai followed by a PhD in chemical engineering from National Chemical Laboratory in 1969.
He set up Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories with an initial investment of Rs 25 lakhs. This company, in 2001, became India’s first company to be listed on the New York Stock Exchange and is worth more than $ 2 billion today. The Government of India honoured him with the Padma Bhushan for his contribution to the Indian pharma industry. He was a member of the Prime Minister’s Council on Trade and Industry, a Fellow of the Indian National Academy of Engineering and Chairman of the Andhra Pradesh Industrial Development Corporation.
Dr. K. Anji Reddy