-Dr Ramakrishnan, president, Indian Analytical Instruments Association and vice president of the Chromatographic Society of India
How many members are there in IAIA and what kind of exposure is given to them?We have about 80 corporate members, out of which over 20 companies became members during the last six months. We hope to continue our membership drive and it will be a great day when we are able to become an association of 100 members. We ensure that the profiles of all our member companies are listed on the IAIA website, so that any customer who needs to contact any of our members will be able to do that from a single point. The members will also have a chance to do product promotions or marketing program for a nominal fee, when the website is revamped at a later stage to accommodate more activities. The website will also function as the gateway to the analytical industry in India, for foreign manufacturers, who are looking for an agent or a distributor in India for their products. Above all, the industry needed a face and a voice to bring out the common concerns to the government agencies. More thought has to be applied in this direction and an action plan is needed.
What are IAIA's initiatives to promote the analytical industry in India?Bringing an international trade show such as 'Analytica' of Munich to India in the form of analytica Anacon India, is an achievement. The association has organized four events in the past, two in Mumbai, one in Bangalore and one in Hyderabad. analytica Anacon India 2009 is the fifth in the series, and is one of the best forums, in which all the analytical instruments manufacturers, both local and foreign, and their agents and distributors are interested in showcasing their latest technologies and end products. This provides the best opportunity for any prospective buyer in India to look under one roof the choices one has and to make the necessary comparisons and also to meet with the experts from the industry. This kind of trade show also gives a chance to some of the foreign trade missions to come to India and promote their brands.
How has the analytical industry changed over the years and what are the current market trends?Foreign exchange control was one of the major barrier to getting sophisticated analytical instrumentation to India. In the 1980s, the customs duty was so high that only some of the government institutes used to get the duty exemption or exemption was given to companies if the import was against the goods that they exported and that has brought foreign currency earnings to the country. As the foreign exchange reserves increased and as the country started opening up with the new ruling governments the laws governing the import of capital equipments changed, and the duty structure also decreased especially for basic research and development in the private sector. This opened the gate for the sales of much needed analytical instrumentation in India. In the late 1990s, when India became the signatory to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) agreement, the gates started opening wider and more imports of the analytical equipment to the country started happening. Indian Pharma companies started investing more and more in the R&D of generic drugs, manufacture and formulations, as many patents of various pharmaceutical products were to expire by the turn of the 21st century. India, definitely was one of the countries to catch up with the wave and many companies invested heavily into development and manufacturing. To support this investment, it was also important to build up strong clinical services, and one could see several of them coming up within a short span of time. I recall that the first wave of expansion of pharma and brisk buying of analytical instrumentation started in 1995, followed by the second major wave from the year 2000.
Many global manufacturers are keen on establishing their direct presence in India. How will it impact the local players and the market?Indian analytical instrument market is valued at more than $1 billion and there is a healthy share for all the players. India was not an open market, so it was not easy for the foreign companies to come and establish their direct operations here. Earlier, the demand was also not that much warranting a direct operation. However, as the scenario has changed and the demand for sophisticated instruments have increased, the foreign companies have either joined hands with their local partner in a joint venture or a direct presence. Over the years, Indian customers have been asking for more and more factory-trained engineers, regulatory compliances, faster delivery of spares etc. After a certain point, it becomes very difficult for many of the local distributors to fulfill these demands, this gives an opportunity for the foreign companies to set up their direct operations in India. It is important to mention how well our local agents have played their role in establishing the foreign brands in India and serving the Indian customers.
How do you foresee the growth of the analytical instruments market in India?Life sciences is perhaps the most important area of research today and a very large amount of money is being spent for its development. One of the major areas of research within this segment is proteomics and there are a large number of laboratories in India, where the government is making major investments. Huge investment is needed for establishing these labs. India has the capability to catch up with the rest of the world and we have to focus on identifying biomarkers for some of the tropical diseases or genetic diseases, that will be one of the major revolutions that can be brought about.