Bhramara’s Prestigious Award for Distinguished Service to Humanity conferred on Covaxin-maker
Mysore/Mysuru: Dr. Krishna Ella, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Bharat Biotech, Hyderabad, that invented Covaxin (the indigenous vaccine against COVID-19) has given a clarion call for the younger generation to take innovative steps so that a conducive atmosphere is created to check the next generation from looking for green pastures in foreign countries.
Krishna Ella addressed the gathering, a mix of scientists, academicians and students, after receiving Bhramara’s Prestigious Award for Distinguished Service to Humanity from the trustees of Bhramara Trust of Y.T. and Madhuri Thathachari at Sri Rajendra Auditorium, JSS Medical College at Sri Shivarthreeshwara Nagar in city last evening.
“The younger generation should fight for innovations as the Government alone cannot change the eco-system. Or else, the next generation will leave the country, with only old aged people remaining. Unlike five years ago, the Government is different today and the youths should not refrain from taking the risk,” said Krishna Ella.
Not exploiting the pandemic situation
Recalling a meeting held at a star hotel in Bengaluru on Dec. 5, 2019, where he had expressed an opinion that ‘Bengaluru will be empty in the event of a pandemic,’ Krishna Ella said, “Many didn’t believe in my apprehension. 30 to 40 days later, the COVID-19 pandemic struck the country.”
“When Covaxin was approved, we at Bharat Biotech decided to hand over the vaccine to the Government without asking for a single pie. The company had invested Rs. 800 crore including Rs. 500 crore on clinical trials but was firm on not exploiting the situation as the country was suffering at that time. The revenue (of the country) had taken a beating without any collection of taxes or tourism activities,” said Krishna Ella.
“A company should not think on commercial returns always as at times we have to act with a human touch. Hence, we did it accordingly during the COVID situation,” he asserted.
Colonial situation still prevails
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) former Chairman A.S. Kiran Kumar described how the pandemic showed the importance of Science and Technology. “Until the pandemic struck the country, people were of the belief that science was nowhere connected to life. The pandemic has reset the man and is evident with how we learnt about the significance of ‘Namaskara’ (Indian tradition of greeting each other) in our country,” he noted.
Expressing his regrets over how colonial situation still prevails in country even after 75 years of independence, Kiran Kumar said, “150 years ago, physical raw materials in the country were exported to foreign countries and we were getting finished products. Similarly, intellectual capability is still being targeted.”
Wadiyars set a role model
Mysore royal family member Yaduveer Krishnadatta Chamaraja Wadiyar described how his ancestors had set a precedent by doing many firsts for the cause of the society.
“When there was a health crisis and Wadiyar’s were ready to vaccine the people (against smallpox), attempts were made to derail the cause by traditional medicine practitioners by spreading a myth that it (vaccine) may harm lives. To ward off the myth, Maharani Lakshmammanni took a bold step asking her daughter-in-law to get inoculated in front of people,” said Yaduveer.
Likewise, the Princely Mysore State started many eponymous products like Mysore Sandal Soap, Mysore Silk and several others, which can be better described as ‘Make in Mysore’, akin to how the indigenous industries of the country nowadays are being labelled as ‘Make in India’.
Suttur Seer Sri Shivarathri Deshikendra Swamiji said, “A country can progress only when its people feel proud of the indigenous products. The contribution of Krishna Ella is remarkable, for how he set an example by not just developing the vaccine, but also by returning to the country after completing his higher studies in USA.”
K. Vijay Raghavan, former Principal Scientific Advisor, Government of India, described how vaccines are developed through a rigorous process. University of Mysore former Vice-Chancellor Prof. K. S. Rangappa, JSS Academy of Higher Education and Research (JSS-AHER) Pro-Chancellor Dr. Suresh Bhojraj, Madhuri Thathachari and Prof R. Srinivasan of Bhramara Trust were present.