Intellectual Thoughts by Sanjay Panda: 2016

India jumped up 16 positions on a global index of the world's most competitive economies

In a big jump, India has moved up 16 positions to rank 39th on a global index of the world's most competitive economies. The report  showed that India fared well in goods market efficiency, business sophistication and innovation

India’s competitiveness improved across the board, particularly in goods market efficiency (60), business sophistication (35) and innovation (29). WEF said recent reform efforts by the government have concentrated on improving public institutions (up 16 places), opening the economy to foreign investors and international trade (up 4), and increasing transparency in the financial system (up 15).

India still needs to cover a lot of ground, the WEF said, citing labour market deficiencies, large, public enterprises that reduce economic efficiency, especially in the utilities sector and the financial market. Lack of infrastructure remains a critical bottleneck, the report said.  

Top Quotes from India @UNGA 2016 in respose to Pakistan PM's speech

The land of Taxila, one of the greatest learning centres of ancient times, is now host to the  Ivy League of terrorism.
The effect of its (Pakistan's) toxic curriculum are felt across the globe.

Pakistan’s nuclear proliferation record is marked by deception and deceit.

Pakistan channelises billions of dollars, much of it diverted from international aid, to training, financing and supporting terrorist groups as militant proxies against it neighbours.

Pakistan is a terrorist state.

Pakistan extends support to extremist groups, it suppresses minorities and women and denies basic human rights including through draconian laws.

Terrorist entities and their leaders continue to roam the streets of Pakistan freely and operate with State’s support.

Pakistan is a democracy deficit country and practises terrorism on its own people.

It is ironical that a country which has established itself as the global epicentre of terrorism, is preaching human rights and talks about the ostensible support for self-determination.

What my country and our other neighbours are facing today is Pakistan’s long-standing policy of sponsoring terrorism.

Bayer and Monsanto to Create a Global Leader in Agriculture

In the largest deal of 2016 (so far), after months of negotiations  with several  baby steps  agriculture giants Bayer and Monsanto announced  that  they are planning to merge. In an  all-cash   transaction    Bayer  striking the deal a $128  a share  valuing Monsanto at $66B.  including the debt.

Consolidation has been driven by a global  glut that has pushed down crop prices and hurt farm incomes, leading to reduced investment in agricultural inputs such as fertilisers and  Agrochemicals.   Several Mega & small mergers are right now underway/partially completed   like Dow Chemical and DuPont, ChemChina &   Syngenta, FMC & Cheminova  etc.

But the proposed merger  likely face an intense and lengthy regulatory process If the deal closes, it will create a company commanding more than a quarter of the combined world market for seeds and pesticides in the fast-consolidating farm supplies industry.

Both the   company executives claims the  businesses are complimentary & there is very little overlap between them.  However antitrust experts have said regulators  likely  demand the sale of some soybeans, cotton and canola seed assets.

The transaction includes a $2-billion break-up fee that Bayer will pay to Monsanto should it fail to get regulatory clearance. Bayer expects the deal to close by the end of 2017.

Can NSG be far behind? as India enters MTCR.

India became the 35th member of the Missile Technology  Control Regime (MTCR) as the members of the international anti-proliferation grouping agreed to admit India in the regime. The decks were cleared for India’s entry when it joined the Hague Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation.

MTCR is the first step for India’s entry in the four export control bodies, including the NSG (essentially  founded in response to the  Indian nuclear test in May 1974) , the Wassenaar  Arrangement and the Australia Group.   Entry & membership   of  few of  these  groups would end decades of denial of  some technology  &  further   will enable India to become a major supplier/player in the global missile market,   the technology  available in house now.  Over the years, it has developed technology that allows it to make missiles that precisely hit the targets.

While the NSG is focused on stemming the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the Wassenaar Arrangement establishes lists of items for which member countries are to apply export controls. Australia Group formed in 1985 prompted by Iraq’s use of chemical weapons during the Iran-Iraq War.

Only a few days ahead of  the MTCR clincher, India’s bid to enter the much-coveted  Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) was denied by  China, a  member in the group,  by blocking it.  China, has been  playing  the spoilsport  since long  but an entry to MTCR  should  not be long  before India takes its due  & deserve  seat in the NSG  which Is been pending since long.

CRISIL rings Warning Bell for Indian Pharma Companies

A new Crisil report  made it clear how fast the Indian pharma sector needs to shift away from export-oriented manufacture of generics and the just process improvement  exercise, towards investing in R&D to develop new molecules and biosimilars  

Sellers of copycat drugs in developed markets may see exports fall by 10-12% in the next five years as fewer drugs go off-patent in these markets,  compare to  CAGR  of 19% seen in the last decade. CRISIL Research said. The deceleration likely to be much more post 2020.

Between 2011 and 2015, Indian companies accounted for an average of 37% of all abbreviated new drug application (ANDA) approvals—which enable a company to sell generic versions of innovator molecules —in the US market. This was about  similar   to 40%  share held by US companies, but way ahead of the next competing countries—Israel and Germany—which had 5% each.

Non availability of any   further off patent  block buster  and  fall  in growth rate  of   US generic market, the writing on the wall for Indian drug-makers is clear: They have to move up the value-chain, from making cheap copies of off-patent drugs to creating and owning intellectual property through new discovery and biosimilars. To be sure, they have increased R&D spending significantly over the years. Top 30 companies research spending was 6.5% of revenues in FY15, compared to 3.8%  a decade back. However, this pales in comparison with global majors, who spend close to 16%.

Moreover, the Crisil report points out, much of the Indian companies’ expenditure is  for launching generic therapies, changing product mix in generics, and process development. Besides, the atmosphere of doubt over drug quality—in the wake of the FDA’s crackdown—further dampens Indian generic-makers’ export-prospects. 

CRISIL Research analysis indicates that 14  Indian companies together have 39 products in various stages of clinical development. These companies have adopted various approaches—such as in-house development, joint development and out-licensing—to manage the risk-return trade-off.  However, no one has launched a new molecule in a regulated market such as the US.

Thus far,  it is  disappointing in NCE effort  but  39 product in the pipeline should be an encouraging sign for Indian pharma’s prospects. The key challenge will be to uphold drug-quality and pass the approval hurdles in well-regulated jurisdictions like the US.