Monday, March 02, 2015

On a clear day, can you see India from Manipur? Yes, IAS-turned entrepreneur C Balagopal has the answer

OVER three decades ago, C Balagopal was a young deputy commissioner in a district in the North-eastern state of Manipur. He left his high-profile job in 1983 to set up a company that ventured into manufacturing of medical devices. He then sold his shareholding to an MNC. Now, Balagopal plans to set up an incubator in Manipur’s capital city of Imphal to help young people setting up businesses. And his book on Manipur titled,
“On a clear day you can see India”, written in an anecdotal style, explores the question of identity and nationhood. Thanks to his powerful story-telling ability, he beautifully narrated many an incident like surveying a non-existent pineapple plantation and participating in a curfew patrolling. Published by Harper Collins, this is his memoir where one can read about the mind of a young IAS officer. He joined IAS in 1977 and remained in the service only for six years.
While serving as an administrative officer, Bala (as he is fondly called by his friends) realized the lack of bags to store blood for transfusion, something that he produced as an entrepreneur after leaving the government job. He founded a company called Peninsula Polymers (Penpol) Pvt Ltd which set up its first factory in Thiruvananthapuram in 1987.
He knew, he could not scale up his business unless he tied up with larger entities which had similar businesses. In 1999, he signed an MOU with Terumo Corp. Japan under which the Japanese company became as an investor and global business partner, and Penpol got a new name, Terumo Penpol (TPL). No wonder, blood bags and equipment were then exported to more than 50 countries across the globe.
In 2012, Balagopal sold his equity to Terumo Corp. but he remained with the company, first as its MD and then as advisor, before ending his association with the company altogether in March 2014.
He is now a director in Enter Technologies Pvt Ltd, a company that provides medical transcription and also the chairman of Mobilexion, a medical technology company. He also spends quality time in mentoring and investing in start-up ventures, especially those engaged in healthcare and community development.

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