International Affairs · Law · Public Policy

India’s future and its intellectual property rights

The world is preparing to see India in the avatar of being a super power with a booming economy. The process of being this super power requires India to nurture its talents further in fields that remain untapped. Now, the area of intellectual property rights is not exactly new to the country as copy right law in India is about 150 years old and statutory trade mark law ages back to 1860.

However in the recent past, our President has given statements like “India’s innovation bottom line is not very encouraging as the number of patent applications filed annually in leading countries like US and China is roughly 12 times more than that of India. India spends only 0.9 per cent of GDP on research and development, which is much below that of China, UK and Israel. We should step up our expenditure on research to pursue innovation in a big way. The private sector, which contributes one-fourth of our country’s expenditure on research and development, should also increase their share of spending to levels prevalent in countries such as Japan, US and South Korea”.

Now, President Mukherjee has definitely hit the note right, as one way for India’s economy to progress further is by making investments in the field of research. Unfortunately, the policies and decisions against the protection of IP rights in India over the past year are inconsistent with India’s public rhetoric, calling into question the country’s commitment to promoting innovation and continuing its path toward creating a knowledge-based economy says the US Chamber of Commerce.

India and USA’s relations on intellectual property rights are going through a rough patch as USA is upset with India on not laying a ban upon production of certain cheap generic versions of medicines that are still under patent protection. Even the Global Intellectual Property centre has supposedly made a statement saying that intellectual property is deteriorating in the Indian markets, but then of course this comes from an organization that tendentiously favors the US industry.

The issue with India and many other developing countries is that they are all looking for a way to secure affordable drugs for their citizens along with abiding by the agreements that they have signed up for, like the WTO Agreement on TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights). But countries like India have stood up to the needs of their people even at the cost of violating certain norms of these agreements. India has denied a patent to Novartis for their Glivec and has issued certain compulsory licenses to patented drugs, like in the case of Bayer’s Nexavar.

India stands at a pedestal where it is required to do certain things in order grab the status of being a super power, but then the question majorly remains; at the cost of what? Is it morally and practically correct for the country to succumb to the pressure of countries like the USA on issues that concern the health of the people of this country? By the end of it all I hope we don’t end up compromising on our basic needs at the cost of becoming this super power that we are aiming towards becoming. India’s core values believe that the term ‘intellect’ has an element of ‘buddhi’ and ‘vivek’, which translate as ‘knowledge’ and ‘sense of discernment’, so India is required to reinterpret the meaning of these terms in order to serve the requirements of her people and simultaneously grow as a real super power in every aspect.

About the Author

priyam picturePriyam Mathur is a philosophy graduate, living in and out of Delhi and Mumbai. Her current focus is to build a ground of reconciliation for herself, modern politics and concepts in philosophy. The things that most interest her include existentialism, Indian myths, food and music. She is currently pursuing her internship with Alexis Centre for Public Policy and International Relations.

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