My eight-year journey for truth and justice came to an end on May 13. On that day, I stood in a U.S. courtroom as Ranbaxy pleaded guilty to multiple criminal felonies and agreed to pay $500 million to resolve criminal and civil allegations of falsified drug data and systemic manufacturing violations. It is the largest settlement of its kind against a generic drug manufacturer.
Although the past eight years have been difficult, the occasion offers a moment to reflect on the broader meanings, particularly with regard to India’s place in the world.
As I read the comments on various news sites, blog posts and personal email messages after the announcement last month, a common theme emerges which characterizes my actions as “unusually courageous.” While I am humbled by such characterization, I must say my actions are neither unusual nor courageous to me. They are the result of three important factors that led me to act when my conscience said I ought to.
My parents taught me well. My father always said, it is a bigger sin to be indifferent and not act than to commit the crime. Secondly, Dr. Rajinder Kumar, who was my manager at Ranbaxy, personified integrity. He was and still is my role model. When many in his place chose to look away, he took a principled stand for what he believed in, namely protecting patients. Lastly, my work in the pharmaceutical industry has always been rooted in a desire to help people. I saw what happened at Ranbaxy as a threat to public health. When you put these three things together, it is hard to see my actions as either unusual or courageous. They were, quite simply, the right thing to do.
And I believe my actions are consistent with my Indian heritage. While I am now a citizen of the United States, I am from India and am proud of my Indian ancestry. We are an honest and hard-working people. We are rooted in an ancient civilization and culture that values truth and integrity.
Despite this noble tradition, recent headlines have highlighted corruption, fraud, nepotism and depravity in India. This is not who we are—and we need to prove that to the world.
As India continues to grow in global prominence, it becomes more important than ever for parents to instill in their children a sense of duty to be individually and socially responsible and to stand up for what is right—even when it is difficult to do so. We need to elevate role models like Dr. Abdul Kalam, who push us to dream big. We need corporate leaders like Narayana Murthy, Ratan Tata and Azim Premji, who show us how good governance is good business. Finally, we need transparent public systems and processes that work for the people, not for the protected elite.
Achieving this vision requires each of us to act and to lead by example. I tried to do that through my actions to help expose the wrongdoing at just one company. There were many hardships along the way. But in hard moments, we draw comfort from the simple truth so prominently displayed on our national symbol—the quote from Mukunda Upanishad, Satyamev Jayate: Truth alone triumphs.
Cradled in this simple truth, we must redouble our resolve to show the world the greatness of our country.