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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 24th March, 2017

  • March 24, 2017
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IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Analysis, IASbaba's Daily Current Affairs Mar 2017, National, UPSC
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IASbaba’s Daily Current Affairs – 24th March 2017

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NATIONAL

TOPIC: General Studies 3

  • Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.
  • Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano?technology, bio?technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.

Compulsive Patent Hoarding

Introduction

Patents have been seen as a measure of research and design modalities. Off late there has been a rush towards hoarding patents and that has created cost on tax payers money. Hence there are concerns on the methodologies of the same. The current model of commercialisation does not work for publicly funded research

Issue:

The commercialisation arm of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), CSIR-Tech realised that it takes money to make money.

  • CSIR-Tech, realized it the hard way when it had to shut down its operations for 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.
  • Across years, that’s a lot of taxpayers’ money, which in turn means that the closing of CSIR-Tech is a tacit admission that its work has been an expensive mistake — a mistake that we tax-paying citizens have paid for.
  • Recently, CSIR’s Director-General claimed that most of CSIR’s patents were “bio-data patents”, filed solely to enhance the value of a scientist’s resume and that the extensive expenditure of public funds spent in filing and maintaining patents was unviable.
    • CSIR claims to have licensed a percentage of its patents, but has so far failed to show any revenue earned from the licences.
    • This compulsive hoarding of patents has come at a huge cost.
    • If CSIR-Tech was privately run, it would have been shut down long ago.
  • Acquiring Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) comes out of our blind adherence to the idea of patenting as an index of innovation.
  • The private sector commercializes patents through the licensing of technology and the sale of patented products to recover the money spent in R&D.
  • But when the funds for R&D come from public sources, mimicking the private sector may not be the best option.

Patents and moral hazard

  • While it’s true that it costs lakhs of rupees to get a patent in India, government-funded research organisations are likely to spend more money on patents so long as they are not asked to bear the risk.
  • 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.
    • In the insurance sector, moral hazard refers to the loss-increasing behaviour of the insured who acts recklessly when the loss is covered by another. Insurance companies check moral hazard by introducing copayment from the insured.
  • The acceptance that CSIR laboratories need to bear 25% of expenses for their patents acknowledges the moral hazard.

The 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. Dissemination of technology to the masses, participation in nation-building and creating public goods are rarely objectives that drive the private sector.
  • The IPR policy of some publicly-funded research institutions allows for 30-70% of the income generated through the commercialisation of the patent to be shared with the creators of the invention, i.e., scientists and professors on the payroll of the government.
  • Such a policy could promote private aggrandisement and may work against public interest. In contrast, the IPR policy of private companies does not allow for a payback on the share of royalties earned by patents.

Possible solution

The fate of CSIR-Tech is proof that the current model of commercialisation does not work with respect to publicly-funded research.

  • So, how do we ensure that public-funded research reaches the masses and check the excessive filing of patents without due diligence?
  • 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 commercialize the inventions successfully, the royalty-free licence could be converted into a revenue-sharing model.
  • It is predominantly taxpayers’ money that goes into public-funded research.
    • When research is commercialised by private entities, it tends to be sold back to the public at a price.
    • America is in the midst of such a conundrum, where talks are going on of granting French pharmaceutical company Sanofi exclusive licence for the drug against the Zika virus — a drug which has already cost the American exchequer $43 million in R&D.
    • Granting Sanofi this would defeat the purpose of public funds expended on research as the company would charge the American public again for the life-saving drug.

Conclusion:

Putting granted patents on an open licence can be testimony to the commercial viability of the things we are patenting using public money. Not only would it bring a sense of accountability to the managers who run the system but it would also open up publicly-funded research to a whole lot of people, especially start-ups, who can now test, verify, work and put the patented technology into the market.

Connecting the dots:

  • With emphasis on make in India and Start ups innovations will be abound in Indian market. Critically analyze the need for a national policy which ensures lacunae of the current policies are overcome.

 

NATIONAL

TOPIC:

General Studies 2

  • Indian Constitution- historical underpinnings, evolution, features, amendments, significant provisions and basic structure.

General Studies 1

  • Salient features of Indian Society, Diversity of India.

Tolerance as a duty

  • Tolerance is virtue that promotes the receiving or acknowledging of new ideas and helps in breaking the status quo mentality.
  • Tolerance is particularly needed in large and complex societies comprising people with varied beliefs, as in India.
  • Tolerance of other’s views apart from self’s facilitates harmonious coexistence.
  • A liberal democracy accepts the fact that in a free country, one can have different opinions and should have equal rights in voicing them. This is pluralism and tolerance is its ultimate rationale.
  • Intolerance takes birth from an invincible assumption of the infallibility and truth of one’s beliefs, the dogmatic conviction about the rightness of one’s tenets and their superiority over others, and with the passage of time, this leads to forcible imposition of one’s ideology on others, often resulting in violence.

Tolerance and world

  • Currently, the virus of intolerance has acquired global dimensions.
  • Religious and political persecution has become rampant and that too sometimes in the name of Almighty.
  • The Preamble to the Charter of the United Nations proclaims that to achieve the goals of the Charter we need to “practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours”. Thus, the necessity for tolerance has been internationally recognised.
  • Another significant UN instrument is the Declaration of November 25, 1981 on the Elimination of All Forms of Intolerance and of Discrimination Based on Religion or Belief which emphasises that it is essential to promote tolerance and requires states to adopt all necessary measures for the speedy elimination of intolerance in all its forms and manifestations.
  • Thus, there is an interwoven essential linkage between tolerance, human rights, democracy and peace.

Rise of intolerance

  • The rise of intolerance trend is alarming and scary.
  • Some persons are offended by a theme of the movie and vandalising its important sets, eating habits are being targeted in name of religion, talk about sex education is inviting criminal prosecution for promoting ‘bad’ environment and a muslim girl is being forbidden by clerics to not sing songs!
  • Thus, the best antidote to intolerance is practice of tolerance apart from political preaching as it cannot be legislated.
  • This must be done by fostering an environment and culture of tolerance where stereotypes and prejudices are shunned.

Tolerance and Indian constitution

  • One of the basic feature of Indian constitution is the guarantee of a wide array of fundamental rights which are judicially enforceable against the state.
  • The fundamental duties were added in 1976 by a Constitutional amendment and Article 51-A was enacted.
  • One duty that needs to be added is the duty to practice tolerance. One cannot effectively perform fundamental duties unless tolerance is prevalent in society.
  • Tolerance promotes, permits and protects the expression of thoughts and ideas which are acceptable to some and not to some.
  • The media has an important role to play in promting tolerance. It should incessantly preach that that no group or body has the monopoly of truth and morality and it is a duty to respect the point of view of the “other minded”. This is should be supported by condemning incidences of intolerance, without fear of consequences.
  • The role of education is equally crucial. The virtue and culture of tolerance should be inculcated in students right from schools where different social, economic and religious backgrounds are respected.

IASbaba’s views

Tolerance has high respect for human rights, especially freedom of conscience and freedom of thought. Disagreement with the belief and ideology of others is no reason for their suppression, because there can be more than one path for the attainment of truth and salvation. Tolerance should be highlighted in fundamental duties and also be practiced with dedication. Promotion of multi-religious, multi-cultural democracy through tolerance cements its invincibility.

As SC said in a judgement: “Our tradition teaches tolerance; our philosophy preaches tolerance; our Constitution practices tolerance. Let none dilute it”.

Connecting the dots:

  • What is tolerance in a multi-religious, multi-cultural society? How can it be promoted?
  • Is intolerance also a right to freedom of expression? Analyse. How can tolerance prevail over intolerance?

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