By Indranil Halder
It was amazing to meet Raj at 8th Day Cafe to learn about his pioneering thinking in Indian medical innovation. Born and raised in Ramdhan Mitra Lane, Shyam Bazar with North Bengali intellectuals as neighbours who contributed to socio-economic development of Bengali culture and Indian heritage. Today, he wants to equally contribute to India’s medical technology development for the mass.
Who is Raj Gupta ?
Raj graduated with B-Tech flaunting high scores from West Bengal University of Technology in 2005. He did his investigative study with medical devices to improve patients quality of life. At Calcutta University’s Bio Medical Instrumentation Department, he was invited several times to render his expertise by renowned medical technicians, chief coordinators and scientists Dr Anima Sen and Dr D N Bose. Prof D N Bose (who is the nephew of renowned freedom fighter Late Subhas Chandra Bose) was astonished to find him delivering lectures to Post Graduate students of of Advanced Bio-Medical Instrumentation Engineering without graduating in Engineering. He immediately recognised Raj as an innovative intellectual technocrat.
Later on,he is professionally engaged in Energy (Oil & Gas), Education, Healthcare and alternative energy projects. He is also associated with the Tea Board of India and represents the Government of Sikkim as Advisor and Consultant for their Dept.of Commerce & Industries & Temi Tea Estate and engineered the hydro-power plants in tea gardens. He made considerable contributions in engineering industry with companies such as High Tension Electrical Equipments Pvt Ltd, Vision Gupta Engineering Pvt Ltd and others. As Director and Advisor for SAP Healthcare, he core objection is to develop indigenous capabilities in the Indian healthcare market.
Indian healthcare Market :
Today the Indian healthcare market is $USD 132 billion dollars and will increase to $USD 400 billion dollars in the next 20 years. Whether it be knee or hip or cardiovascular surgeries , India is on its way to be a global leader with its cost effective medical treatments, improvement in healthcare sector and extensive supply of healthcare professionals. Already India is producing for medical companies like Synthesis or Philips and during 2019 covid pandemic, India was also producing cost effective ventilators with socioeconomic benefits to control the pandemic that had paralysed global economy. The pandemic also provided a much need understanding to significantly improvement in its healthcare sector for India’s continuous growth as global player and over take other G7 and G20 countries. Recently, it had overtook United Kingdom and is about to over take Japan and Germany. It is predicted that with one of the youngest population in the world, India will be the largest economy in the world by 2047. To sustain such growth, improvement of medical technology healthcare is paramount especially for its 1.4 billion people.
Myself, living and working in the Australian medical sector for several decades, it is great to learn about the potential growth in India’s merging medical sector to improve life expectancy in light of constant challenges effecting affordability, accessibility and awareness. At the same time, there is an increase in purchasing power, government initiatives and expanding knowledge about treatment of non-communicable diseases in the Indian society which can definitely increase the medical technology requirements . To me, it signals a perfect opportunity to manufacture and develop the untapped low cost Indian indigenous medical technology market strategically.
Indigenous Medical technology development is key :
As we stood in the ground of Rajabazar Science College, University of Kolkata with a statue of Prafula Chandra Sen(father of Indian pharmaceutical) , Raj revealed that he is born into a family of entrepreneurs who have been contributing to India’s economic growth for almost a century. In 1930, his grandfather Souranath Gupta, (Board member of Calcutta Stock exchange who made his money selling Bird & Hilgers shares) started the flagship entrepreneurship. In 1971, his dad Kabul Gupta was introduced to directorship of certain company by Late Binoy Krishna Rohatgi to increase business acumen knowledge. His father was an eminent scientist and scholar of Indian Philosophy & Science and contributed enormously. Binay Vision was said to be the first manufacturer of television in Indian subcontinent, where his father was a director. He was also the director of Bally Investment Trust. It is with Uttarpara royal family of West Bengal (one of the richest Bengali in India), he was involved in Bally Investment Trust. With the manufacturing of Pilfer Proof (PP) cap for Bengal Chemical’s famous “Jowaner Arok” bottle, Raj’s family ventured into medical industry. His family owned Yubraj Engineering Works (Augmark Certified) in 1974 and kept manufacturing those bottle caps for many decades. Raj followed his father’s footsteps and became advisor to Sur Ventilator. His research contributed to the manufacturing of medical respiratory support systems for treatments. And in 2008 , he started SAP Healthcare and collaborated with Indian government. This was reported by Indian newspaper Tribute in 2009, Raj’s Kolkata based private firm SAP Healthcare Equipments Private Limited was transferred innovative medical technology after successful collaboration with CSIR – Central Scientific Instruments Organisation (CSIO) of Chandigarh, India (under the Council of Industrial Research, Govt of India) for manufacturing. He has definitely set a gold standard for home grown innovation and commercialisation of medical products such as Anesthetic Ventilator, Sodium Potassium Analyser and Surgical Microscope under Director of CSIO, Dr Pawan Kapur, scientist, professor and advisor to various apex committees (under the Leadership of Indian prime minister) who wanted indigenous medical innovations to treatment and improve patients’ quality of life at a reduced cost.
Since 2001, Raj’s exceptional knowledge in the medical technology field saw him participated in the development of ‘Ventilator’. He received acknowledgments from across the wider industry including academics such as scientists, professors and deans from Indian government. Often as External Specialist, he shared his expertise at the Faculty of Advanced Bio-Medical Instrumentation”, University Science Instrumentation Centre, Calcutta University, Kolkata from 2004-2010 to facilitate facility development. As a healthcare entrepreneur, he always believes in commercialisation of innovative medical technologies to benefit diverse Indian population. His research papers on the subject of ‘Ventilator’ not only highlighted his understanding and contribution to development of innovative medical technologies in India but also reflects on the market needs. In 2006, Prof.D.N.Bose F.A.Sc, F.N.A., Emeritus Scientist said, “He is doing excellent work helping to develop medical instrument such as ventilators…He has very good understanding of the physical working principles of such equipment and showed unusual clarity in explaining this”.
In 2014, he was part of the Expert Panel Member of CSIR (Dept of Science & Technology, Govt. of India) for future technologies development.
The development of the ventilator was perfectly time as urgency of patient treatment during 2019 Covid pandemic( killed millions of patients with respiratory illness) accelerated exponentially across the globe including India, United States and Australia. As in Australia, continuous use of advanced medical technology has provided excellent healthcare to support growth of trillion dollar economy, when asked about how Australian collaboration in the field can benefit Indian healthcare, Raj confidently said, “With development of IndoAustralian bilateral relationship based democracy, diaspora and dosti, it is time for new programmes to generate innovative and creative applications in the medical technology sector to improvement patients life with socio-economic benefits.” Raj’s visionary approach, critical thinking and commitment for indigenous medical technology innovations and manufacturing is undoubtedly a great asset to India’s economic developmental goals. I feel, with a strong Indo-Australian private and public partnership in medical technology involving bio medical sciences, Raj will be able to continue his medical technology innovations to benefit the Indian healthcare sector.