Mission GST – Reforming The Ecosystem

The midnight of July 1,2017 has now gained monumental significance in India’s economic history, as the Government formally ushered in the Goods & Services Tax (GST) era, with a special session of the parliament.

On a professional front, it was a momentous occasion for Team Cipla as well, who have worked round-the-clock for the past eight months to meet the GST deadline. The journey for GST-compliance began in October last year, and at the stroke of mid-night hour as GST came into existence, Cipla was ready for the new taxation regime and generated its first GST compliant sales invoice at IST 02:00 AM.

One fundamental feature of GST is that tax paid on purchases is available as Input Credit. The current multi-staged tax structure had charges from the State and Central governments separately, leading to cascading effect of taxes. There were taxes at different rates and at multiple points. The Centre had taxes like Service tax, central sales tax and excise duty while at the State level it included VAT or sales tax, octroi, state excise, entry tax etc. These taxes were not creditable against each other and led to increased tax burden. GST has permitted this credit offset.

To avail this benefit and to comply with all other requirements of the new tax regime, we had to re-engineer all internal processes. The new taxation system’s impact was not just limited to the Finance or Procurement or Sales functions. Functions like R&D, Travel Desk, Logisitics, HR, and several others were bound to have a residual effect; hence each function was to be evaluated closely. A thorough understanding of the ‘as-is’ processes followed by ‘impact assessment’ paved the way for the next phase – the ‘to-be’ stage. The IT teams worked closely and in synergy with every function for the system overhaul and every member involved in the rollout was thoroughly trained. All plans, efforts and preparations were directed at one single objective – Cipla was to be ready for GST on July 1.

Cipla’s journey for GST implementation was not only confined to the internal stakeholders, but extended to the entire pharmaceutical fraternity. As a responsible organization, we consistently strived to ensure that the interests of patients & our trade partners are not adversely affected, whilst pursuing this complex transition to the new taxation system.

From creating a dedicated GST-related website (www.cipla.com/gst) and conducting Webcast (attended by more than 1000 trade partners) to address concerns of our trade partners to deputing depot managers to interact with them personally, we were fast off the block.

We collaborated with our trade partners across the country, rallying behind the entire value chain, to make sure the switch to GST was as smooth as possible. Allaying their fears, we offered compensation for their losses & other financial support, to ensure availability of medicines to the patients and general public is not impacted.

Finally, I’d like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the efforts of team at Cipla (Dinesh, Sneha, Rahul, Rupesh, Gagan, Siddharth, Mahesh, Pradeep, Sreejith, Pallavi, AN Ramesh, Jatin, Nihar, Girish, Srinath, Chintan, Swapneel, Neelu, Gorakh, Shabbir, Saurabh, Shikha, Nidhi, Ramnath, Daljit, Nitin, Ankit, Tejashri, Pantha) and all our partners who supported us – your perseverance & grit has finally paid off and today we stand proud in the industry – ready for GST – whilst proudly upholding our legacy #CaringForLife

#WorldBookDay: Books That Have Influenced My Life

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Meet Challenges Head On – Dr Ranjana Pathak To Women Leaders In The Making

My journey has been a roller coaster ride, filled with laughter and some tears. The challenges were numerous, since I started at the very bottom, this forces you to learn, understand the nuances of the job, the expectations of the organisation, and the regulators.

This job soon became a career and now a calling. I have always been driven, spent hours reading trade journals, studying books on key topics such as chromatography, the USP etc. By the way, the USP is a great book to learn from if you are in the lab. When I started my career, I was the only girl in the QC lab, it was daunting because I had zero experience, this was a challenge to overcome. For me it was a new country, working for the first time in my life, so I suppose the survival instinct kicked in. I have always been very focused. I have the drive to be the best in what I do. These two traits have enabled me to be a perennial student, keeping me in the learning mode. I never liked the status quo and always opted for harder tasks, taught courses because it would force me to learn and be challenged by pharma executives. The need to excel has been with me literally all my life which drives me to take challenges head-on.

In summary, it is my purpose, drive, doggedness, persistence and courage that have enabled me to overcome the numerous challenges that faced me and I know I am not alone! I have also been blessed with having a very supportive family, bosses and colleagues.

Challenges for women leaders

Time is the biggest challenge, the pharma industry is competitive and by nature, timeline bound. There is seldom tomorrow, everything seems to be needed yesterday, a very fast paced, exacting and demanding industry, full of challenges, some anticipated and others binding. For women, to play their classical roles in society and families becomes difficult, because of their innate nature.
Women from time immemorial have been jugglers, they must juggle the needs of their families, children, work, friends, communities etc…the list goes on and on.
Given that the number of hours is limited for all, women need to be able to prioritise the ‘must dos’, and let go of those tasks that cannot be done and will not matter in the long run, ‘take help’ from family members, friends, neighbours to be able to juggle everything on their plate.

Creating a conducive growth environment

The government can and should execute laws that are conducive for women to work, the organisations then must follow through to make the workplace environment safe. School and universities should promote science and maths so children join science rather than hanker for business degrees alone, don’t get me wrong we need those as well but I think I see a tip towards business. If there is no product, there will be no business to manage. Today’s generation wants instant gratification, the millennials are different from the baby boomer generation, their needs and tolerances are not the same. Careers in disciplines other science seem to be more popular. The pharma industry needs sharp scientists, engineers, biologists, microbiologists, physicists, computer science etc. to ensure that new drugs/devices are developed, existing drugs are made more affordable, the quality is uncompromised. This is a daunting task where the government can help in ensuring the platforms exist. The government can do a lot to make this feasible for women/ girls in urban and rural schools.

Need for regular campus placement

There are more number of science graduates coming out of universities who want to join the pharma sector. However, due to lack of job opportunities, they have to change their career goal. To address this, the pharma industry needs to be present on the campus to educate the graduates of tomorrow about the needs of humanity (need for medicines) and the need of society.

Success Mantra

To my newcomers and those that are stalwarts: Always do the right thing, be courageous, know your subject, believe in yourself, look at yourself in the mirror each morning and say—Wow, I am looking at a great piece of art that is going to make a huge difference today!!! If I can do it…You can do it better!!

This article originally appeared in Express Pharma.

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Books: A Cerebral Affair

“A Reader lives a thousand lives before dying. Those who never read live only once!”

All of us enter youth and the corporate world with the quiet confidence that we can change the world. Alas, this lasts only “until the coarse necessities of physical existence drag us from the height of thought into the mart of economic strife and gain”. Our everyday challenges – finding and then doing well in a good job, keeping up with an often fragile relationship, the heavy load of expectations from our parents and ourselves, lack of clarity on what we really want to do in life, the rat race and constant comparison with our peers – often pull us down into mediocrity. And the grand idea of being the very best we can gets quietly put aside.

So Why Read Books?

If we agree that good counsel can help us become much better, what better guide than books? Mentors and teachers can come and go and may turn out to be false Gods. Why not drink from the ageless wisdom of good books, learning from the myriad experiences of some of the best of our species?

As Durant said, “When life is bitter, or friendship slips away, or perhaps our children leave us for their own haunts and home, let us come and sit at the table with Shakespeare and Goethe…”

But What Exactly To Read?

There is a book for every mood and occasion. Choosing few recommendations is not easy (±130 million books have been written!), so let’s decide how we will choose:

  • Life-changing: Will make us wiser. That can bring fundamental changes in our thinking and attitude, answer the big Why questions.
  • Engaging and Fun: We want to grow, but also enjoy the journey. We may not have the patience (yet!) to go through deep but boring books.

Let me start with a few recommendations from my side (click each link for more recommendations and a short summary)…

(If you want more, see my blog on 100 Books To Make Us Wise).

Part of what makes a book memorable is our own life experiences that can relate to it. So look out for what appeals to you. Obviously, choose the books very carefully. Good books can be an everlasting love affair, just as bad books can be more enervating than a date gone horribly wrong.


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Union Budget 2018 – A Budget That Improves The ‘Health of the Nation’

Union Budget 2018 did a commendable job in addressing critical social sector priorities such as healthcare, education and agriculture – a progressive move that will help improve rural economy, encourage entrepreneurship and trigger future growth.

We welcome the world’s largest government-sponsored healthcare scheme – Ayushman Bharat Programme which will extend the benefits of health insurance to 100 million families, ensuring access & affordability of healthcare products and services to a larger section of the society. While there is no immediate impact on the industry, the move could trigger a rise in demand for medicines.

The investment in Government health and education programs is indeed, an extremely progressive step that will usher in healthcare reforms in the country. The industry continues to remain hopeful of the Government to take steps to promote pharma R&D in the country through the rollback of phasing out of weighted deduction on R&D.

The extension of the lower corporate tax rate to MSMEs will support expansion and growth. It could have been extended to larger corporations as India’s corporate tax rate is towards a higher range when compared globally.

On the larger macro-economy, the focus on financial prudence and keeping the fiscal deficit under check is appreciated. The reintroduction of LTCG tax might be perceived as detrimental by market participants. The recommendations and policy changes in the budget have the promise to take India forward on a trajectory of economic growth. However, the implementation of the same on the ground level will prove to be the litmus test for the government.

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