Dr Yusuf K Hamied

DR YUSUF K HAMIED

Dr Yusuf K Hamied is a leading Indian scientist and chairman of Cipla (Chemical, Industrial & Pharmaceutical Laboratories), a generic pharmaceuticals company founded by his father. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan, India's third highest civilian honour, by the Indian government in 2005.

For Dr Hamied it was his father, Khwaja Abdul Hamied, that first inspired him to want to make a difference. Having established Cipla in 1935, the elder Hamied helped the Allied cause in the Second World War by providing vital drugs for trauma, dysentery and the like.

Taking this legacy forward, Dr Yusuf Hamied believes that philanthropy should be focused on areas of expertise and passion in order to make a meaningful difference. To this end, Dr Hamied has concentrated on healthcare and education. “The cornerstone of individual and collective success is education. If India is to keep pace in the 21st century, maximum emphasis must be given to this,” he says. “However, education by itself is not enough. We must use our knowledge to contribute to society, specifically in areas where we have competence and expertise.”

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Individual success does not make a person great. What really matters is his contribution to society and improving the lives of his fellow men.

Dr Hamied believes that businesses working in ‘humanitarian’ industries such as health and education must also have humanitarian ethics and practices, aiming to help the greatest number of people and not just have a singleminded pursuit of profits. That is why within the pharmaceutical sector he has taken exception to the exorbitant prices of some drugs and made supplying life-saving drugs at affordable prices a central element of his business philosophy. Dr Hamied is most proud of Cipla’s work in leading a consortium of pharma firms to make anti retro viral drugs available in Africa for a fraction of the price originally quoted. He believes this has helped stem the number of deaths from AIDS across Africa and Asia – and he’s hoping to do the same with cancer drugs.

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The cornerstone of individual and collective success is education. 

Outside of core business activities, Cipla has sought to support the communities that live and work around its factories. For example, it has built sanitation blocks in local schools to encourage girls to remain in education. Dr Hamied has established palliative care institutes in Pune and Kerala for those suffering from cancer and HIV/AIDS – something which is painfully lacking in much of India. Using his networks to bring western expertise to India, the nurses were trained by staff from Macmillan Cancer Care.

Dr Hamied and his wife Farida also devote much of their personal wealth to philanthropy supporting education and arts and culture.

Looking to the future, Dr Hamied believes that the CSR Act will help significantly in expanding corporate philanthropy in India. He recommends that all businesses appoint a head of CSR to ensure funds are spent judiciously and make a real difference to the causes supported. ”[We need] to spread the message about strategic philanthropy or else money donated goes to waste and puts people off philanthropy,” Dr Hamied advises, adding that ”individual success does not make a person great. What really matters is his contribution to society and improving the lives of his fellow men.”