On July 5, 2016, Honourable Prime Minister of India, Shri Narendra Modi, included Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya in his cabinet. Apart from the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, the Prime Minister made him a Minister of State in the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilizers too. When the Modi government was elected in 2014, only 99 Jan Aushadhi Kendras were functioning under Jan Aushadhi Yojana with a basket of only 150 medicines, half of which were not available at these Jan Aushadhi Kendras.
When Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya started working with this ministry, the number of Janaushadhi Kendras had barely reached to 300. He studied the Pradhan Mantri Janaushadhi Project and met Late Ananth Kumar ji, the cabinet minister of this ministry, to talk about this scheme. Late Ananth Kumar ji got emotional and said that his mother had died of cancer and cancer medicines are very expensive, and Mansukh Bhai, Janaushadhi Kendra project is a scheme for the poor, do it with your heart and move forward in the direction of providing the poor with affordable medicines.
Thereafter, when he met Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya expressed his willingness to work on this scheme since this is an important scheme for the benefit of the poor. After listening patiently, the Prime Minister encouraged him and asked him to prepare a report that should outline the potential, drawbacks and solutions of Jan Aushadhi Yojana. After this, Shri Mandaviya made a detailed study of the various dimensions of this scheme and started working towards making this scheme a success story.
He observed that the team responsible for implementation of this project is facing multiple problems at various levels. The Bureau of Pharma PSUs of India (BPPI) is responsible for the implementation of this scheme. While working towards making this scheme a success, he realized shortly that the team is not as capable as it should be to work efficiently in the competitive environment to make this scheme successful. The need of the hour was to improve the work culture of BPPI.
The work culture of BPPI was not what it needed to be resulting into multiple problems at various levels. There were many problems in the supply of medicines under this project. There were complaints from the suppliers regarding payment. They were not getting their payment in timely manner by BPPI. This was leading to stopping of supplies by suppliers and this was hampering the implementation of the entire scheme.
To solve these problems, Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya started working on two levels. On the one hand, he studied various aspects related to this scheme in detail and on the other hand, he increased his participation in the day-to-day working of BPPI. During that period, Shri Mandaviya started working with BPPI not only as a minister of the department but also as its CEO.
He shared his experiences related to this scheme with Honourable Prime Minister. After considering them, PM took the much-needed initiative to improve the functioning of this scheme. Thereafter, Modi Government relaunched this scheme as Pradhan Mantri Bhartiya Janaushadhi Pariyojana.
He kept working tirelessly to make PMBJP a grand success. Under his leadership, there were many administrative reforms and supply side reforms. He took personal initiatives to encourage people to open new stores and he also took personal interest in encouraging doctors to prescribe generic medicines. Shri Mandaviya himself visited every state with the store opening form to make people aware about this project and to encourage them to open new stores. He personally visited and met the Chief Ministers of various states to explain the benefits of this scheme and seek their cooperation to open these centers. He wrote letters to all the MPs about the Jan Aushadhi Project, interacted with the MPs and requested them to facilitate the opening of these stores in their respective constituencies.
This hard work of Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya started paying off in a few days. He had set a target of opening 3,000 Janaushadhi stores by March 2017, this target was achieved within the stipulated time frame. Medicines reaching Jan Aushadhi Kendras on time was also a big challenge since the supply system at the time was not as sound as it should have been for the effective implementation of such a massive scheme. One of the key challenges was that when there was a tender for drugs, it took a long time from issuance of tender to drug delivery. The medicine used to reach the BPPI godown in six-seven months and it was taking two-three months extra to test it again. It means the whole process was taking a time of nine to ten months. Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya solved this problem through personal intervention.
The result of the work done on the Pradhan Mantri Jan Aushadhi Project under the leadership of Shri Mandaviya has turned this scheme to a ‘Silent Revolution’ for our society. When Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya took up the charge of this scheme, there were only 300 centers at that time. By June 21, 2021, the number reached 7,851. Availability of affordable and quality generic medicines at these centers is resulting into huge financial savings for the masses. In the current financial year 2021-22, during the period of April 1 to June 8, Janaushadhi Kendras across the country together have benefited the common people to the tune of Rs 900 crore. Due to these centers in the last financial year 2020-21 itself, common people saved about Rs 4,000 crore. Total financial savings for the current financial year is estimated to cross Rs 5,000 crore.
It is the result of Shri Mandaviya’s hard work that 1,449 medicines are being made available through Janaushadhi Kendras. In 2014, not a single surgical item was available through these centers. Today, these centers are providing 204 types of surgical items to common people. Under the leadership of Dr. Mansukh Mandaviya, people’s confidence in this scheme has increased to such an extent that people often refer to Janaushadhi Kendras as ‘Modi ji ki Dukaan’.