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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 17th May, 2016

  • May 17, 2016
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs May 2016, National, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 17th May, 2016

 

NATIONAL

 

TOPIC:  General studies 2

  • Structure, organization and functioning of Executive and Judiciary

 

Unequal access to Justice

Supreme Court: Directed parties to an ongoing civil litigation to each pay a fixed sum of money to enable them to have their cases heard, and potentially disposed of, at an early date

  • Imposing costs on one of the parties at the end of a protracted litigation— A common method in practice to act as a deterrent against litigants abusing the process and the system of the law
  • Prioritisation of the case (over another) by granting early dates of hearing to those, who are capable of paying huge sums of money— A matter of shame as it reinforces a scheme of classism that has no place in any court of law

Imposition of a pre-deposit—A capitalist’s calculation

For rich corporates:

  • A sort of fast-tracked justice tailor-made for those corporates who are keener for the settlement of mundane issues of little public consequence
  • One of the steps which can be adopted to reduce pendency and discourage litigation
  • Transformation of the Court into a court that now stands to serve only for the benefit of a few Indians, or the “big clients

 

Justice—A luxury

For ordinary men: Serves to deeply burden— the price to be paid for an early hearing would simply be out of reach

The Constitution, wrote Justice S.N. Dwivedi in his separate judgment in the famous Kesavananda Bharati case, “is not intended to be the arena of legal quibbling for men with long purses”

Article 14 of the Constitution guarantees to all persons a right to equality before the law and the equal protection of the laws— the idea of providing equal access to justice inheres both in Article 14 and in any reasonable notion of the rule of law. To achieve a perfect model of equal access would require every person to be possessed of an equal ability to defend his or her rights—Difficult to achieve in a society as unequal as India’s

The same Court, in the 1980s, for expanding the right to legal access— had allowed claimants, whose rights were not directly affected by actions of the state, to approach the court on behalf of the larger public.

“The legal aid movement and public interest litigation seek to bring justice to these forgotten specimens of humanity who constitute the bulk of the citizens of India and who are really and truly the ‘People of India’ who gave to themselves this magnificent Constitution,” wrote Justice P.N. Bhagwati in People’s Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India (1982).

“It is true that there are large arrears pending in the courts, but that cannot be any reason for denying access to justice to the poor and weaker sections of the community. No state has a right to tell its citizens that because a large number of cases of the rich and the well-to-do are pending in our courts, we will not help the poor to come to the courts for seeking justice until the staggering load of cases of people who can afford is disposed of.”

Change in the court’s underlying philosophy—Almitra Patel v. Union of India

Public Interest Litigation filed to regulate solid waste disposal in the city of Delhi—Supreme Court wound up chastising the slum-dweller instead— “The promise of free land, at the taxpayers’ cost, in place of a jhuggi, is a proposal which attracts more land grabbers,” wrote Justice B.N. Kirpal. “Rewarding an encroacher on public land with free alternative site is like giving a reward to a pickpocket.”

Ensuring equal access to justice (United Nations Development Programme)

  • Means much more than improving an individual’s access to courts and the guarantee of proper legal representation— not only asks for a proper definition to emerge for the concept of ‘access to justice’ but also grant the concept the importance of it being the necessity for just and equitable legal and judicial outcomes
  • “When dealing with a question of court fee,” wrote Justice D.A. Desai in a 1978 judgment of the Supreme Court, “the perspective should be informed by the spirit of the Magna Carta and of equal access to justice which suggests that a heavy price tag on relief in Court should be regarded as unpalatable.”
  • There is a need for the Court to thus, change the path its treading upon as it just marks “an imposition of an inequality”, thereby making illusory some of the Constitution’s most cherished promises entrenched in the Preamble, of justice, social, economic and political, and of equality of status and of opportunity.

Connecting the Dots:

  • Critically examine if the recent decision taken by the Supreme Court w.r.t each paying a fixed sum of money to enable them to have their cases heard, and potentially disposed of, at an early date.

 

ECONOMICS

 

TOPIC

General studies 2:

  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

General studies 3:

  • Effects of liberalization on the economy, changes in industrial policy and their effects on industrial growth; Intellectual Property & Patent related issues

 

An IP policy with no innovation

Background:

  • Intellectual property (IP) regimes suffer a classic paradox. While they attempt to encourage innovation and creativity, they have themselves been shielded from innovation experimentation.
  • For some years now, India has been attempting to break this mould and craft a regime to suit its own distinctive set of concerns. Section 3(d) of the Patents Act, 1970, was a bold attempt in this direction, aimed at eradicating “evergreen” drug patents.
  • At last count, a total of 2.37 lakh patent applications and over 5.44 lakh trademark registrations were deemed as pending, some of these hanging fire for years.
  • The main reason for these pendency figures (updated March 10, 2016) has been attributed to the shortage of manpower in the country’s intellectual property offices.
  • The unclogging of the pendency and quality examination are at the heart of improving the robustness of India’s Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) system, something that the government has moved towards by announcing the country’s first IPR policy.

 

What are the objectives of the government’s new IPR policy?

  • To focus on strengthening the legal and legislative framework of IPRs, their commercialization; and reinforcing the enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms for IPR infringements.

 

What are the different categories in Innovation domain?

  • Technology-driven innovation: Which involves the development of new advanced technology systems, such as the Aadhaar platform, Bajaj Auto’s DTS-i technology or Vortex Engineering’s solar powered ATMs.
  • Market-driven innovation: Which includes products that create innovative value propositions for new customer segments. Examples include Tata Ace one-tonne commercial vehicles and GE India’s low-cost ECG machines.
  • Operations-driven innovation: Which includes innovations in processes achieved by adopting cost-efficient practices or by creating new supply and distribution channels, Examples include companies such as the Narayana Health Group and Aravind Eye Hospital that have lowered the cost of heart and eye surgeries through operational efficiencies achieved from volume-driven business models.

 

What is the current status of Investment into Research and development?

  • As of 2014, India’s spend on research and development (0.8 per cent of GDP) significantly lagged global counterparts such as China (1.9 per cent), Korea (3.8 per cent) and the US (2.7 per cent).
  • In 2015, India ranked a dismal 29th out of 30 countries in the International IP Index released by the Global Intellectual Property Center of the US Chamber of Commerce, a ranking that measures the overall IP environment in a country. China was ranked 19th in the same list.

Intellectual Property Rights(IPR ) policy:

Pros:

  • The new National Intellectual Property Rights policy seeks to put in place a legal framework that will encourage the IPR regime and reduce the time taken by the government to approve a trademark to a month by 2017.
  • Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) acts as the nodal agency for regulating intellectual property rights in the country.
  • For those in industry, the government’s move to streamline the IP related laws under a single department is a big positive, considering that this will help in streamlining of the intellectual property framework in the country.
  • The policy needs to be commended for taking note of our “informal” (rural) economy and the need to encourage the prolific creativity found within.

Cons:

  • Intellectual property accelerates innovation in certain technology sectors, but it impedes innovation in others. The biggest flaw of the new policy is that it does not acknowledge this
  • The entire edifice of the present IP policy is built on this flawed foundation equating more IP with more innovation.
  • Granted, India is lagging on several counts. When compared with its glorious past boasting pioneering innovations from the likes of Sushruta (the father of modern surgery) and Nagarjuna (metallurgy), India has hardly had any noticeable technological marvels in its recent history.
  • The policy sounds almost militant when it proposes that despite our ancient “laudable” heritage where knowledge was freely and extensively shared, we must now make amends and convert each piece of our knowledge into an IP asset. This flawed frame results in a number of problematic assertions in the text of the policy.
  • It advocates that publicly funded scientists and professors must compulsorily convert all of their discoveries into IP assets, much before they have even written this up and published it in reputed science journals — and that their promotions be predicated on the number of IP applications made.
  • We must encourage a plurality of approaches when it comes to IP and innovation; our scientists should be free to take this call on whether or not they wish to register IP. Doing so for the mere sake of it is stupid, quite apart from the fact that on an empirical cost-benefit analysis, most U.S. universities lose more money on IP registrations than they make through IP royalties.

 

How does IP policy affect SME (small and medium enterprises) sector?

  • The IP issue is even more compelling in the context of the state of India’s SME (small and medium enterprises) sector, which employ 40 per cent of India’s overall workforce but contribute only 17 per cent to the nation’s GDP. This is mainly due to an unfavorable regulatory environment, marked by the need for multiple procedures and high paid-in capital to start a new business
  • As a result, a whopping 94 per cent of SMEs are currently unregistered, which leaves them struggling with issues such as shortage of skilled workers, limited market exposure and restricted access to capital.

Way ahead:

  • The new policy will try to safeguard the interests of rights owners keeping in mind the wider public interest while combating infringements of IPRs
  • The country would retain the right to issue so-called compulsory licences to its drug firms, under “emergency” conditions, and would not immediately need to change patent laws that were already fully WTO-compliant.
  • Compulsory licenses are already provided in our patent law. That existing provision will continue. Compulsory licenses enable a domestic drug manufacturer to produce patented drugs that are not available to the public at a reasonable price.

Connecting the dots:

  • What do you understand by Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)? Throw light on how does recently concluded Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) power R&D, national growth?

 

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