Mitras Analysis of News : 24-03-2017

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1.The compulsive patent hoarding disorder (The Hindu)

2.Do we need a presidential system? (The Hindu)

3. Global trade pact (Trade facilitation in Services)

4.Traditional Knowledge Database library (TKDL)

 

1.The compulsive patent hoarding disorder (The Hindu) 

Synoptic line: It throws light on the flawed patent policy and implications on CSIR.(GS paper III)

Overview

  • CSIR is filing patents in India and overseas without any appreciable benefit to society or even to organisation. Such a behaviour is leading to huge expenditure on the part of exchequer
  • The plan is also expected to provide India a direct access to central Asian markets but due to certain caveats the plan is yet to be materialized.

What are patents?

  • The term patent usually refers to the exclusive rights granted to anyone who invents any new, useful, and non-obvious process, machine, article of manufacture etc.
  • An invention is a solution to a specific technological problem and is a product or a process. Patents are a form of intellectual property.
  • Under the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights, patents should be available in WTO member states for any invention, in all fields of technology, and the term of protection available should be a minimum of twenty years.

CSIR

  • Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), established in 1942, is an autonomous body and the largest research and development (R&D) organisation in India. It runs 37 laboratories and 39 field stations or extension centres spread across the nation.
  • The research and development activities of CSIR includes aerospace engineering, Structural engineering, ocean sciences, Life sciences, metallurgy, chemicals, mining, food, petroleum, leather, and environment.
  • CSIR-Tech is the commercialisation arm of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR).

The Issue                                                                                    

  • CSIR- tech has been shut down de to lack of funds.
  • CSIR has filed more than 13,000 patents – 4,500 in India and 8,800 abroad – at a cost of ₹50 crore over the last three years. It is a drain on public money as it costs a lot of money to file a patent.
  • Moreover, the patent are filed to just add as an achievement in the scientist’s work profile. No appreciable social or scientific utility is there.
  • Acquiring Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) comes out of our blind adherence to the idea of patenting as an index of innovation.

Why CSIR patents don’t earn money?

  • Companies earn money from patents by:
  1. Commercializing them through the licensing of technology to a third party and charging a royalty amount from third party.
  2. Sale of patented products to recover the money spent in R&D.
  • But when the funds for R&D come from public sources, (as it is in the case of CSIR) imitating the private sector may not be the best option.

Patents and moral Hazards

  • Reckless filing of patents using public funds may be explained by the economic concept of moral hazard.
  • According to economist Paul Krugman, it happens in “any situation in which one person makes the decision about how much risk to take, while someone else bears the cost if things go badly”.
  • In the case of public-funded research, the reckless filing of patents without due diligence results from the moral hazard of the government bearing the risk of patents that don’t generate revenue.

National IPR policy

  • The National IPR Policy released last year does not offer any guideline on distinguishing IPR generated using public funds from private ones. It views every IPR with private objectives by insisting on commercialisation.
  • The fate of CSIR-Tech is proof that the current model of commercialisation does not work with respect to publicly-funded research.
  • Dissemination of technology to the masses, participation in nation-building and creating public goods are rarely objectives that drive the private sector.

Way ahead

  • A possible solution to preserve the objective of publicly funded research is to devise an IPR policy wherein patents are initially offered on an open royalty-free licence to start-ups. Once start-ups commercialise the inventions successfully, the royalty-free licence could be converted into a revenue-sharing model.

Question: India’s patent regime is not in sync with the fundamental thesis of innovation. How India can overcome such a problem?

2.Do we need a presidential system? (The Hindu)

Synoptic line: It throws light on the issue of form of governments. Parliamentary or presidential system which is best for democracy?(GS paper II)

Overview

  • Framers of our Indian constitution favours for parliamentary form of government, after considering merits and demerits of different forms of governments.
  • For having presidential form of government has been much debated from Nehru era up to present. There are different views and thoughts favoring one over another form of government.

What is presidential form of government-?

  • A presidential system is a system of government where a head of government is also head of state. He is the real executive and not merely notional executive. The powers vested in him are in practice actually exercised by him.

Indian parliamentary system-

  • Indian parliamentary form of government in which the executive is responsible to the legislature for its policies and acts.
  • President is nominal executive; he is head of state while Prime minister is real executive, head of the government.

Left, right and center views-

Left-

  • According to leftist switchover to the presidential system is not possible under our present constitutional scheme because of the ‘basic structure’ doctrine.
  • Abuse of power is major concern. According to them, presidential system centralizes power in one individual unlike the parliamentary system, where the Prime Minister is the first among equals. The presidential system is dangerous for democracy as it surrender to the authority of one individual. The over-centralization of power in one individual is detrimental for society.
  • A diverse country like India cannot function without consensus-building.

Right-

  • According to right, the parliamentary system has not merely outlived any good it could do India; it was never well suited to Indian conditions. A presidential system would “enable leaders to focus on representing the people, instead of on staying in power”.
  • They claim- Dictatorship is not the result of a particular type of governmental system. In any case, the Emergency demonstrated that even a parliamentary system can be distorted to permit autocratic rule.
  • Presidential form of government will bring more accountability. An Indian presidency would have the opportunity to build issue-based coalitions on different issues, mobilizing different temporary alliances of different smaller parties from one policy to the next.

Centre-

  • Merely stating that a change to the presidential system is needed does not mean much. The Indian debate currently is not focused on the kind of presidential system envisaged. What is the term we are seeking for the President? Should he/she be re-elected? If so, for how many terms? Then, who decides the change? Parliament? All this requires a massive amendment to the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution.

Way ahead

  • The Parliamentary system of Government today in India stands deeply compromised and eroded from what was conceived by the founding fathers.
  • Financially also the Parliamentary system is a heavy drain on the Indian exchequer. But tried and tested system for nearly 70 yrs needs reform to cleanse the electoral process and make it effective form of government rather than switch over to other system.

Question: India’s parliamentary form of government has been saddled with delayed legislation. How India can reform such a system?

 

3.Explained

Global trade pact (Trade facilitation in Services)

  • India had recently pressed for expediting the negotiation process for a global services pact.
  • India had, in February, submitted to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) a legally-vetted proposal for a Trade Facilitation in Services (TFS) Agreement. The proposal was taken up by an expert committee at the WTO headquarters in Geneva recently, and it will be considered for discussion by all the WTO members.

What is TFA

  • Trade facilitation agreement (TFA) is a trade protocol aiming to give a stimulus and do away with the stumbling blocks in doing international trade between various countries.
  • Traders from both developing and developed countries have long pointed to the vast amount of “red tape” that still exists in moving goods across borders, and which poses a particular burden on small and medium-sized enterprises.
  • To address this, WTO Members concluded negotiations on a landmark Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) at their 2013 Bali Ministerial Conference and are now in the process of adopting measures needed to bring the Agreement into effect.
  • The TFA contains provisions for expediting the movement, release and clearance of goods, including goods in transit. It also sets out measures for effective cooperation between customs and other appropriate authorities on trade facilitation and customs compliance issues. It further contains provisions for technical assistance and capacity building in this area.
  • The Agreement will help improve transparency, increase possibilities to participate in global value chains, and reduce the scope for corruption.

What is Bali Ministerial or Bali package

  • The Bali Package is a trade agreement resulting from the Ninth Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization in Bali, in December 2013. It is aimed at lowering global trade barriers and is the first agreement reached through the WTO that is approved by all its members.

TFA in services

  • In October 2016, India had tabled a concept note on the proposed TFS at the WTO.
  • The TFS proposal is on the lines of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) in Goods. TFA in services means liberalised visa regime such as multiple entry visas, visa-free travel for foreign tourists and long term visas for business community.
  • The proposed TFS, among other things, aims to ensure portability of social security contributions and cross-border insurance coverage to boost medical tourism.
  • India is very strong in the services area as the sector contributes over 50 per cent in the country’s economic growth. To boost services exports, the ministry is already working on some reform measures in sectors including education and legal.
  • India is already pushing hard for a comprehensive trade pact in the services sector, a key area of interest for the country, in the ongoing free trade agreement negotiations including with the European Union and Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP).

Question- How Global trade pact can help in plugging India’s Current Account Deficit? what are the possible roadblocks in achieving such a pact ?

 

4.Explained

Traditional Knowledge Database library (TKDL)

  • TKDL is supposed to cease to exist due to lack of funds.

What is TKDL?

  • Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) was setup in collaboration with the Ministry of AYUSH and Council for Scientific & Industrial Research (CSIR).
  • TKDL is an Indian digital knowledge repository of the traditional knowledge, especially about medicinal plants and formulations used in Indian systems of medicine.
  • Objective of the library is to protect the ancient and traditional knowledge of the country from exploitation through biopiracy and unethical patents, by documenting it electronically and classifying it as per international patent classification systems. Apart from that, the non-patent database serves to foster modern research based on traditional knowledge, as it simplifies access to this vast knowledge of remedies or practices.
  • The knowledge obtained from ancient Indian texts is stored in 34 million A4 size pages and translated into five foreign languages – in Japanese, English, Spanish, German and French.
  • It is not a transliteration; rather it is a knowledge-based conversion, where data abstracted once is converted into several languages by using Unicode, Metadata methodology.
  • TKDL has signed access and non-disclosure agreements with the Indian and seven other global patent offices. This ensures near-fool proof security for our invaluable bio resources against piracy.
  • All of this required not just high-end technology but also skills of a high technical order. And there were people with knowledge of ancient texts, modern medicine and technical terms of foreign languages.
  • TKDL technology integrates diverse disciplines and languages such as Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha, Yoga, Sanskrit, Arabic, Urdu, Persian, Tamil, English, Japanese, Spanish, French, German, modern science & modern medicine.
  • Till date, TKDL is based on 359 books of Indian Systems of Medicine, which are available at a cost of approx. US$ 1000, in open domain and can be sourced by any individual/organization at national/international level.
  • TKDL acts as a bridge between these books (Prior-art) and International patent examiners. It is the TKDL technology which has created a unique mechanism for a Sanskrit verse to be read in languages like German, Japanese, English, Spanish and French by an examiner at any International Patent Office on his computer screen.
  • As per the information received from CSIR, till date TKDL has been successful in preventing the grant of wrong patents in 220 cases.
  • Apart from bio-piracy, to prevent misappropriation of Yoga, Ministry of AYUSH through Sangeet Natak Akademi (the nodal organization of Ministry of Culture) has filed nomination of Yoga at UNESCO to include Yoga in the representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Present issue

  • It will no longer be an organisation that once pro-actively scouted for intellectual property infringements by Indian and foreign companies on traditional knowledge in areas.
  • It has no committed funds beyond March, most of its workforce has been removed and these staffers are litigating against CSIR.

Question- TKDL is one of the main pillar of Digital India campaign in preserving the traditional heritage. Comment?

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