G.S. Vijaykumar: Indo-Russain Friendship is a Unique Business Opportunity
– You have been active in the Russian market for more than 20 years. How would you describe your business direction in Russia and how would you estimate your current position? What difficulties have you faced more frequently?
– We entered Russia in 1995. The following year, we began delivering ophthalmic equipment to Russian eye clinics. Of course, we received cautious attitudes at first. It took us five years to deserve unconditional trust and establish our reputation as a reliable market partner. Today all ophthalmic clinics and specialized surgeons know us. Varthamana began with supplying artificial intraocular lenses supplied at that time exclusively by European and American companies. Later we started holding TV conferences of operations between India and Russian cities, such as Moscow, Samara, Arkhangelsk, Barnaul, Ufa and others. Thus, we promoted scientific exchange of experience between Russian and Indian ophthalmologists. This granted us the status of a company which is interested in scientific cooperation with Russian colleagues, not a mere seller of certain goods. I used to bring many Indian surgeons to conferences held in Russia and helped Russian surgeons present at Indian forums.
– How many Russian cities does the geography of your company include? Are you planning to expand?
– Today we work all over Russia and started entering the CIS markets. Not so long ago we began exploring Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. In Kazakhstan we have successfully worked for more than 14 years. Of course, we will expand.
– Is the Russian market competitive in your opinion? Who are your main contenders?
– Of course, it is. For instance, Russia has already begun producing its own artificial intraocular lenses. Hospitals let you choose between between US, German, Indian or Russian lenses. Still, Russian medical equipment manufacturers are few, and we compete with Western suppliers that offer higher prices. We are planning to start our own production together with Russian colleagues. Moreover, we would like to export Russian equipment to India. We used to supply Russian ophthalmic laser technologies to India.
– What are your nearest plans?
– Not so long ago, along with ophthalmic equipment and instrumentation, we began to supply India and US-produced pharmaceuticals. Worth noting, that we also supply artificial intraocular lenses and bring unique Finnish equipment to the Russian market. We are constantly looking for newest technologies.
Besides, we develop the scientific side of our work. Currently along with our Japanese colleagues we plan to carry out research based on cellular technologies and are going to create a laboratory in Russia for that purpose. These technologies can be successfully used not only in ophthalmology but also in cosmetology, oncology, etc.
– Diplomatic relations between Russia and India turn 70 this year. How would you estimate this relationship from the business point of view? What is lacking? In your opinion, why is the turnover between the countries growing so slow and what should be done to boost it?
– I would say that the Russian market still does not know India well enough. India has obviously changed dramatically for the last 15 years, the country became more open for international relations, our friendship gets closer and more invulnerable. Russians have to use this unique opportunity as this friendship can make business grow hundred times faster making it more successful than now. Of course, Russia supplies a lot of military technologies. But what I mean is a different thing as I am speaking about consumer goods. In this context, the relations in pharmacy are developing really fast, as Indian pharmaceuticals have been recognized pretty quickly. Still, there are many other not less promising branches not merely for trade but for production.
Today is the perfect time to invest in India. Indian business has invented in Russia a lot, and it would be nice to see reciprocity. For several years in order to develop horizontal ties our ambassador has been organizing visits of Indian businessmen to Russian regions proving very good results. Thanks to this, potential investors see region’s weak and strong niches and industries and pin-point investing directions. Moreover, the highest level decision has extended multiple entry visas up to five years which has greatly eased our investors’ lives. We started from scratch, as there had been no such level of communication in our times. One can say, we managed to beat this path, and hope that both countries’ business will be developing the established links more actively and our mutual projects will become top-priority investment projects.
By Andrei Krasilnikov.