Pharma Sector – Drug Pricing, NPPA, FDC, Generics, etc.

Replicating success in space and pharmaceuticals in knowledge economy


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Not much

Mains level: Paper 3- India's success in space technology and pharmaceuticals

The article underlines India’s success in pharma and space, and also analyses the reasons for India’s inability to replicate the success in other areas.

India’s success in space and pharmaceuticals

  • The launch of Brazil’s Amazonia-1 satellite by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) comes weeks after India allowed the export of COVID-19 vaccine to Brazil.
  • Taken together, these two examples of technological and scientific cooperation draw attention to the diplomatic potential of India’s knowledge economy.
  • The credit for India’s competitive pricing of satellite launches and pharmaceuticals exports goes entirely to Indian engineering, scientific and technological talent.

Decrease in capability for knowledge-based diplomacy

  • Indian science and technology had something to offer the developing world that the developed economies of the West were either unwilling to provide or did so at much higher cost.
  • Overseas students were drawn to Indian universities and institutions because they offered good quality education at a fraction of the cost of developed country institutions.
  • The appeal of education in India for overseas students has waned.
  • Indian expertise was sought by global organisations such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) and International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
  • Rail India Technical and Economic Services (RITES), had acquired a global profile with business in Africa and Asia.
  • The development of India’s dairy and livestock economy also attracted global interest.

Factors responsible

  • India lost this leadership in the knowledge economy, barring sectors like space, pharma and information-technology, for two reasons.
  • First, a flight of Indian talent that began in the 1970s and has since accelerated. This has sharply increased in recent years.
  • Second, China has emerged as a major competitor offering equally good, if not better quality, S&T products and services at lower cost.

Consider the question “India’s success in pharma and space indicates its potential. What are the challenges India faces in replicating the success in these two sectors in other areas of the economy?


Global success of space and pharma points to the diplomatic potential of the knowledge industry and to India’s “soft power”. However, the fact that they are the exception rather than the rule points to the lack of political and intellectual support to the development of India’s knowledge base and an inadequate commitment to excellence.

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