Whenever I saw a new Indian face in Khartoum I used to greet him and include him in my mailing list of ‘Indians in Sudan’. This helped me to build a good networking with the Indian community, be it in Omdurman, Khartoum, Kassala, and Port Sudan. Now that I’m back in Bengaluru, India I have noticed a few Sudanese students in my neighbourhood. Met Fuad in the morning on a Sunday at the market. We both were buying vegetables. He was surprised to hear me speak Arabic with a Sudanese dialect and was amazed to know that I had spent 15 years in his motherland.
In 1935 Mahatma Gandhi on his way to England had stopped over at Port Sudan and met the members of the Indian Community who hailed from the same region as Gandhi in India. The name of Gandhi is known to young and old in Sudan.I have met more than one Sudanese person named Gandhi.There is a street named after Gandhi.On the occasion of 150 years of celebrating the Mahatma popular Sudanese singer Reemaz Mirghani sang Bapu’s favourite song Vaishnava Jana to…
The meaning of cute is ‘attractive in a delicately beautiful way and clever’. Similar sounding ‘Qute’ means Bajaj’s motorised quadricycle. It is an advancement over the Bajaj Auto rickshaw. Qute looks cute and is clever because it is economical, fuel efficient, lesser polluting and has agility in crowded streets. I have seen only one in the streets of Khartoum. I am told it comes in many colours , red, blue, green, black. In my opinion, the people of Sudan prefer white cars and bigger the car greater is the status. We Indians take pride in seeing the ubiquitous Bajaj auto rickshaws in the streets but doubt whether the Qute will gain popularity. #FreeTheQute
If you see the building from a distance it may not ring a bell, but on closer look you will read Sudan. Yes this is the iconic Sudan Block at the National Defence Academy in Khadakwasla, Pune, India. In recognition of the sacrifices of the Indian troops in liberation of Sudan in the North African campaign during World War II, Sudan Government, in 1941, donated one hundred thousand pounds. Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru laid the foundation in 1949 and the work was completed in 1954. The then Sudanese Ambassador Syed Rahamatalla Abdulla performed the naming ceremony on May 30, 1959. Earlier in 1958, India offered a six –acre plot in the Chanakyapuri area of New Delhi for the construction of Embassy of Sudan.
The Indian Community in Sudan celebrated their 69th Republic Day on 26th January with the new Ambassador H.E. Mr. Ravindra Prasad Jaiswal. Ambassador Jaiswal was Deputy Head of Mission at Berne, Switzerland before assuming charge in Sudan. He is Ambassador of India to Sudan and Eritrea. Ambassador Jaiswal has earlier served in Egypt, Ethiopia and Qatar. The Ambassador is a qualified Civil Engineer and an M.Phil. in Environmental Science.
On Republic Day, the Ambassador unfurled the national flag followed by the national anthem. He then read out the excerpts of the speech delivered by the President of India on the same occasion. “The promise of a developed India beckons us. This is the new stage of our nation-building project on which we have embarked. This is the republic that our young people need to take forward and enhance—in keeping with their vision, their ambition and their ideals,” President Ram Nath Kovind said. Republic Day was celebrated with a Cultural Program performed by children from Omdurman and Khartoum. They danced with patriotic songs of India.
There is a special kind of celebration on New Year’s Eve in Khartoum the capital city of Sudan. The Shabab (youth) are on the streets merry making the whole night. 1st of January in Sudan has more significance than being the first day of a new year. The official ceremony that marked the Independence of Sudan was held on 1 January 1956 at the People’s Palace. That day both the Egyptian and British flags were lowered and the new Sudanese flag was raised by the first Prime Minister Ismail al-Azhari. Today is 62nd Independence Day of Sudan. Interestingly most Sudanese have 1st January recorded as their date of birth. Today I have to wish 114 Sudanese friends in Facebook on their birthday. Fortunately today is a public holiday.
Way back in the 70s, Dr. Ahmed ElBadawi M.E.Hamid kept asking a question why there was no drug industry in Sudan. He answered his own question and fulfilled his dream in the mid-70s by laying the foundations of Amipharma Laboratories Ltd.
He started with an infrastructure for manufacturing pharmaceuticals in a space not more than 10,000 sq.mts and yet adhered to all International Regulations specified by World Health Organization’s guidelines of Good Manufacturing Practices.
The factory started after selecting a limited number of academically qualified Pharmacists, Chemists, Engineers and Technicians. During this time Prof.Hendricks, Consultant of UNIDO and Head of Department of Pharmaceutical Technology at Ghent University, Belgium, played a significant role for Amipharma. He arranged for training the personnel in Belgium in the field of production, quality control and good manufacturing practices before the commencement of production. Prof. Hendricks also selected the machines and instruments for the quality control laboratory. Amipharma can never forget Prof.Hendricks contribution.
Production started in April 1983 in small batches of limited products with two production lines for tablets and capsules using semi-automatic machines operated by limited number of workers. High quality products at reasonable prices compared to the imported medicines created an increased demand. The company had to import high-tech fully automatic machines by air to cope with the increasing demand. Within only two years of launch, Amipharma products were competing with imported products from Europe specially those of Beecham International. Beecham used to control the market of antibiotics in Sudan those days despite their high prices. Beecham responded to the stiff competition given by Amipharma by assigning contract manufacturing and a contract was signed between both parties. According to this deal, Amipharma obtained the license to produce some of Beecham products at a lower price than the imports, while Amipharma continued to produce the same products at lower prices than that of Beecham. This joint venture continued till the year 2000. Beecham today is part of the giant GSK after merger, which is the top company in the world. This contract manufacturing by Amipharma for European company Beecham undoubtedly had a positive effect and Amipharma gained the trust of Pharmacists and Doctors of Sudan. Moreover, this joint venture made the local company take major steps for development by enhancing their production lines, adding new lines such as dry powders, syrups and suspensions. It was not only the production lines which were developed but also the instruments in the quality control laboratory. Even the infrastructure grew in size and the space of the manufacturing facility increased fivefold to the current 58000 sq.mts.
Amipharma today produces more than 100 products in different dosage forms, strengths and in many therapeutic categories, most importantly antibiotics, antihypertensives, antidiabetics, analgesics and medicines for endemic diseases like malaria and stomach flu.
In its journey of 35 years, Amipharma has earned its reputation and is now a name that people trust. To reach out to all patients throughout Sudan, the company has distribution offices in Nyala, Atbara, and Medani including Khartoum.
To meet the needs of the patients in Sudan, the local industries should start manufacturing Injections, Eye Drops and Inhalers. Amipharma has benefited from this Government’s policy of boosting the local industries which allows national industry to outsource these new dosage forms through contract manufacturing. Amipharma has collaborated with leading companies to manufacture for them for 3 years during which Amipharma will construct production facilities and transfer the technology to carry out local manufacturing of inhalers, injections, eye, ear and nasal drops.
At the export front the company has registered its products in Kenya, Chad and Eritrea. It has already exported to Eritrea and registration processes are going on for other neighbouring countries.
Amipharma is driven by social responsibility and has provided jobs and opportunities for Sudanese men and women. There are 850 employees in the factory engaged in different fields of technology, pharmaceutics, chemistry and management along with the skilled workers and about 300 people in the various distribution offices.
Training opportunities are being provided to students and graduates. Amipharma sponsors research in different fields including universities in Sudan, provides summer jobs for students to financially help them, supports medical convoys to different areas of Sudan financially and with medicines, sponsors scientific and medical conferences, rewards outstanding students in Sudanese universities, supports departments of chronic diseases in many hospitals and also supports and sponsors environment safety projects.
Dr.Ahmed Elbadawi M.E. Hamid CEO & Managing Director of Amipharma was sharing his success story at Arab-Afro Medica 2017 at Friendship Hall. Khartoum 12-14 Dec’17 organised by Arab Union for Industrial Exports Development (AUIED).
At the end Dr.Ahmed concluded by saying “We believe that the success we have accomplished was with God’s help, we were granted the elements of success in the form of financial resources, although it’s a family business yet the profits go back directly to its capital. Qualified personnel are continuously being trained in and outside Sudan. There are clear business agenda and work plans in all departments. We are setting short and long term expansion plans. Our accommodating work environment has given us loyal workers who give their best and cooperate as a family. Today, praise be to Allah, each and every product coming out of any of Amipharma’s production lines is committed to our mission of providing ‘High Quality Medicines to Benefit a Patient at an Affordable Price.
This is not the end, but the beginning to realize our vision.”
On the occasion of 70th Anniversary of Indian Independence the Embassy of India in Khartoum organised a Cultural Evening with Kathak Dance. Ms.Madhumita Roy led the troupe from India and performed various pieces based on the classical for of Northern Indian dance. Some of their performances had an interesting blend between Western movements and Kathak footwork. Ms.Madhumita Roy is a Kathak exponent having been trained by Maestro Birju Maharaj. My daughter Anavi was the host for the evening and the audience appreciated her performance.
The Embassy of India, Khartoum usually has a Sudanese speaker in almost every event organized by them in Khartoum. To celebrate the National Unity Day on 31st October’17, which commemorates the birthday of the Iron man of India, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, the speaker was Prof. Abdelgadir Elfadil Abdelgadir of the Department of Environment, AlNilein University. Prof.Elfadil studied at the University of Agriculture at Bangalore, India and later obtained his PhD from the prestigious Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore.
The welcome speech at the function was delivered by Ambassador of India H.E.Amrit Lugun who also spoke about the great contributions made by Sardar Patel in integrating 565 Princely States and in unifying the nation. He was a barrister, statesman, a leader of Indian National Congress and one of the founding fathers of the Republic of India.
Prof.Elfadil in his speech said the Sardar which means a leader was the first Home Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of India and made huge efforts to restore the peace all across the nation. Sardar Patel is also referred as Bismarck of India but some say that his task of unifying India was more herculean than Bismarck in Germany.
At the function, the speeches were followed by two films one on the theme of Unity in Diversity in India and a documentary on Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
In order to remember him annually, Rashtriya Ekta Diwas (National Unity Day) was introduced by the Government of India in 2014. Many believe that if Sarder Vallabhbhai Patel had dealt with Kashmir independently there would have been one Jammu & Kashmir.