Citizens' Issues
Vijay Kelkar recommended Padma Shri for Arun Firodia, a wilful bank defaulter

Arun Firodia, founder and chairman of the Kinetic Group of companies is declared as wilful defaulter by several banks and yet Vijay Kelkar recommended his name for Padma Shri, the fourth highest civilian award in India

Following directions from the Central Information Commission (CIC), the ministry of home affairs (MHA) has revealed that Vijay Kelkar, a key-functionary attached with the union finance ministry and himself an awardee of Padma Vibhushan, had recommended name of Arun Firodia, founder and chairman of the Kinetic Group of companies for Padma Shri. Earlier in January 2012, Mr Firodia was awarded Padma Shri from the trade and industry category.


According to a reply received by Subhash Chandra Agrawal under the Right to Information (RTI) Act what is more shocking various intelligence authorities including those attached with ministry of economic affairs also cleared Mr Firodia's name without any proper check. Several news-reports and website of Credit Information Bureau (India) Ltd (CIBIL) have mentioned Mr Firodia and his daughter, Sulajja Firodia Motwani as being wilful bank-defaulters.


See the reply Mr Agarwal received under the RTI Act…

Padma Shri (also Padmashree) is the fourth highest civilian award in India and is awarded in recognition of their distinguished contribution in various spheres of activity including the arts, education, industry, literature, science, sports, medicine, social service and public affairs. The selection criteria for the Padma awards, however, has been heavily criticised as many highly deserving people have been left out in order to favour certain individuals.


As Moneylife reported, despite all checks and balances, neither the committee nor agencies and regulators like Intelligence Bureau (IB), Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), Central Excise Intelligence (CEI), Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) could find out Mr Firodia’s bank defaults.


Several banks have declared Mr Firodia a “wilful defaulter” continuously between 31 March 2005 and 31 March 2012 and yet his name was cleared. In a report available on the website of CIBIL, as of 31 March 2012, Mr Firodia's name has been shown associated with Kinetic Finance, Athena Financial Services, along with his daughter Sulajja Firodia Motwani. According to CIBIL data, as of 31st Match, Athena Financial Services has an outstanding of Rs54.60 crore, while Kinetic Finance owes Rs2.76 crore to debtors, mostly banks.


Demanding an enquiry in the clearance given by intelligence agencies and authorities to Mr Firodia for the Padma Shri award, Mr Agarwal said, "Exemplary stringent-most action should be taken against the irresponsible officers in these agencies having cleared Arun Firodia’s name for Padma Shri to prevent such carelessness by Intelligence Authorities in clearing names of Padma awardees in future. To save dignity of Padma awards, it should be immediately taken back from Arun Firodia. Surprisingly, the father-daughter duo have been turn-by-turn members of the governing-body of Council of Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR), a union government-enterprise. Wilful bank-defaulters must not be allowed to hold posts in government-bodies."


Campa Cola case: Illegal residents will have to vacate by 31st May, says SC

Attorney general Vahanvati told the apex court that no specific proposal could be worked out for enabling new construction in the compound

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that residents of unauthorised flats in seven buildings at Campa Cola compound in Mumbai have to vacate premises by 31 May 2014.


The apex court has also asked occupants of illegally constructed flats to give an undertaking within six weeks to vacate their houses.


Attorney General GE Vahanvati told the Supreme Court that no specific proposal could be worked out for enabling new construction in the compound.


If no undertaking is given within the specified period, civic body will be entitled to take action in accordance with the 27th February 27r, the SC said.


Earlier last week, after taking suo moto notice, the Supreme Court had stayed demolition of illegal floors of seven buildings in Campa Cola Compound till 31 May 2014.


According to the broad outlines submitted by attorney general Vahanvati before a bench, out of nine structures originally proposed in the complex, only seven have been built, leaving enough floor space index (FSI) for accommodating the present members of the housing society.


Thus space is available for raising a new building. Those who are going to lose their accommodation may be put up in the new structure. The rules regarding FSI have also changed, which would allow the housing of all affected residents, Vahanvati had said.


Noting down the proposal of the attorney general, the SC had granted him time till today to put his proposal in writing. The bench had also asked counsel for the residents, FS Nariman and Mukul Rohtagi, to find out whether the proposal would be acceptable to them.


Earlier, the apex court had set the 11th November deadline to vacate 102 flats declared as illegal.


The apartments in the Campa Cola Compound were constructed on land leased in 1955 to Pure Drinks Ltd. Pure Drinks was later allowed by the BMC in 1980 to build residential apartments. Seven high-rise buildings were constructed at the compound between 1981 and 1989 by developers Yusuf Patel, PSB Constructions and BK Gupta.


Illegal floors of Midtown Apartments, Esha Ekta Apartments, Shubh Apartments, Patel Apartments (two buildings, six floors each), BY Apartments and Orchid Apartments comprise 140 flats. While the builders were granted permission for ground-plus-five floors, Midtown has 20 floors, Orchid has 17, Esha Ekta has eight, Shubh has seven, while BY and Patel have six floors each.


NLEM: Grey area about what are “essential drugs”

While market based pricing can potentially reduce pricing for two-third essential medicines, there are several critical medicines that are not in the “essential medicines” list. Several Diabetes, TB, HIV, Cancer drugs are not under DPCO 2013 even though WTO lists them as essential

According to Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) 2013, the ceiling of prices is fixed based on the simple average of the prices of all brands of that drug that have a market share of at least 1%. The national list of essential medicines lists 348 bulk drugs, which are sold as 650 formulations. DPCO 2013 itself covers only 14 %-17% of the Rs75,000 crore pharma market, which means only a small subset of the market will be impacted. It is bizarre that many “essential” medicines are actually not in the current National List of Essential Medicines (NLEM) 2011. What constitutes “essential” and “unessential” drugs should not be much of a debate.


Read - Medicine prices: Encouraging profiteering from essential drugs – Part1

Read -Medicine prices: DPCO loopholes will deny cheaper essential drugs–Part2

NGO All India Drug Action Network (AIDAN) has filed PIL (public interest litigation) in SC contending that market based pricing (MBP) is never used for any price regulatory purposes and under the new policy simple average ceiling prices are in many cases higher than the market leader price.

According to Dr Anant Phadke who is associated with AIDAN, “Very commonly used essential oral anti-diabetic medicines like glimeperide and glicazide are not classified as essentials; very commonly used anti-asthmatic medicines like salmeterol and montelukast too are not in essential medicines list.

 S Srinivasan, managing trustee, LOCOST (Low Cost Standard Therapeutics) has a strong case for several drugs that need to be considered as essential medicines. There are many essential medicines which are excluded from the current NLEM 2011 and they will continue to remain priced/ overpriced by letting the market decide.

Here are facts elucidated by Mr Srinivasan -

Multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) - While the World Health Organisation (WHO) Essential Medicines List (EML) includes  capreomycin, cycloserine, ethionamide, kanamycin and para-aminosalicylic acid for treatment of multi-drug resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB), the NLEM 2011 does not mention any of these. Drugs for MDR-TB are highly expensive, and only a fraction of the patients with MDR-TB are under the government’s DOTS-Plus treatment.

Vaccines - While the WHO EML mentions 21 vaccines, the NLEM 2011 mentions only nine vaccines. It is another matter that most of these other vaccines are available in the market; they are costly, and prescribed by doctors who should have known better about their need and utility.

Diabetes - India has the largest number of diabetics in the world. Many important and widely used anti-diabetics are missing in the NLEM 2011 and therefore will be out of price regulation. The only anti-diabetics in the NLEM 2011 list apart from insulins are glibenclamide and metformin. Glime piride, the widely used alternative to glibenclamide, has a lower risk of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar levels) but has been excluded – even as it’s top-selling brand Amaryl 1 mg is priced at a 3,000% margin. Not a single medicine out of the seven-eight commonly used anti-diabetics belonging to four different chemical groups are included in the NLEM 2011 and hence would remain out of price control.

If insulins were excluded from calculations, 90% of the anti-diabetics market would be out of price regulation. Even among insulins, imported insulins have been allowed a higher price than those manufactured within India. But after the DPCO 2013 takes effect hopefully the same ceiling prices will be applicable to imported insulins also – as para 4 (2) of the  DPCO 2013 says that the ceiling prices notified by the government will be applicable to scheduled imported formulations also.

HIV/AIDS, Cancer, Asthma, etc - Likewise many other commonly used critical care medicines for  HIV/AIDS, cancers, mental health, chronic non-communicable diseases like asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, etc, which are costly and not in NLEM 2011, will be out of reach and be a glaring denial of the right to life.

In the fourth part of the article, we will look at examples of drugs wherein ironically the DPCO 2013 ceiling price is higher than the market leader MRP (maximum retail price). Can we see price increase for these medicines?


Drug Abuse

Will you really get cheaper medicines?

New drug pricing policy may increase prices of essential medicines




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