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SYNOPSIS: IASbaba’s Current Affairs Focus (CAF) Mains 2017: Day 18

  • IASbaba
  • October 27, 2017
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SYNOPSIS : IASbaba’s Current Affairs Focus (CAF) Mains 2017: Day 18

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1. Differentiate between augmented and virtual reality. Also discuss the significance of augmented reality.

Introduction:

Augmented reality (AR) is a live direct or indirect view of a physical, real-world environment whose elements are “augmented” by computer-generated or extracted real-world sensory input such as sound, video, graphics or GPS data.

Virtual reality is the computer-generated simulation of a three-dimensional image or environment that can be interacted with in a seemingly real or physical way by a person using special electronic equipment, such as a helmet with a screen inside or gloves fitted with sensors.

Body:

Significance of Augmented reality:

  • Training: Augmented reality is seen as the next big thing in the Internet revolution especially in learning and practical training space.
  • Learning for students: It will allow students from various ranges like skill schools, engineering, research, etc. to experience a different kind of learning before entering the real-world workplace.
  • Hands on training for students: It will be a virtual manufacturing shop floor that will provide students from diploma to research level “hands-on training” on high value machines that are beyond the budgets of institutions.
  • Defect detection at early stages: The institutions and the software deployed will be able to create virtual machines of many sectors-from car design to the assembly line of an automobile firm, from textiles to heavy engineering machines.
  • Digital India and Skill development: The idea goes well with the Skills India and Digital India initiative of the government.
  • Innovation: Will lead to more scope in innovation and more funds support from various sources.

Conclusion:

India’s first augmented reality education and training institute will be set up in Prime minister’s constituency of Varanasi. It is to be set up by central government in partnership with Eon Reality, US based augmented reality company.


2. Space is considered to be the fourth frontier. Any effort to weaponise it would pose serious security threats to the world as whole. Do you agree? Examine India’s preparedness to tackle such threats.

Introduction:

Many countries are trying to weaponise outer space in which China is leading the race which might affect the peaceful use of outer space and might lead to arms race there. Weaponising includes placing of weapons or creating weapons which can travel to space to attack or destroy targets.

Body:

Weaponising outer space would pose serious threat to whole world:

  • Arms race: Might lead to arms race in outer space.
  • Space debris: It might lead to creation of space debris both toxic and non-toxic which might affect us in long run including damaging crucial satellite apparatus.
  • Low satellite: Russian satellite was destroyed in one such incident. It will drastically increase damages to low lying orbiting satellites.
  • Budgetary strains: It will lead to developing country moving part of their budget to same cause affecting social activities to join arms race.

India’s preparedness:

  • Agni-V: Inter-continental ballistic missile developed by DRDO. This technology can be harnessed to tackle any threats in future.
  • PSLV: Recent successes of PSLV will help in transporting weapons to outer space.
  • GSLV and MK-III: With more powerful rockets being success, the future looks bright.
  • GSAT-7: For Indian Navy, this can be called as beginning of long line of defence satellites for India’s weaponising program.

Conclusion:

Outer space treaty was signed in 1967 but still there is no regulatory due to lot of lacuna in the treaty and lack of monitoring authorities it has not been of any use. All world countries should come together to not just banning using of outer space but also production and testing such technologies too.


3. What are the objectives of India’s IPR policy, 2016. Critically examine its features and limitations.

The National IPR Policy is a vision document that aims to create and exploit synergies between all forms of intellectual property (IP), concerned statutes and agencies. It sets in place an institutional mechanism for implementation, monitoring and review.

It aims to incorporate and adapt global best practices to the Indian scenario.

Objectives:

The Policy lays down the following seven objectives:

  • IPR Awareness: Outreach and Promotion – To create public awareness about the economic, social and cultural benefits of IPRs among all sections of society.
  • Generation of IPRs – To stimulate the generation of IPRs.
  • Legal and Legislative Framework – To have strong and effective IPR laws, which balance the interests of rights owners with larger public interest.
  • Administration and Management – To modernize and strengthen service-oriented IPR administration.
  • Commercialization of IPRs – Get value for IPRs through commercialization.
  • Enforcement and Adjudication – To strengthen the enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms for combating IPR infringements.
  • Human Capital Development – To strengthen and expand human resources, institutions and capacities for teaching, training, research and skill building in IPRs.

These objectives are sought to be achieved through detailed action points.

Features:

  • The policy envisages to carry out IP audit in various sections and thereby addressing the needs of the targeted inventors and creators.
  • Policy advocates IP to be taught in schools and colleges and thereby developing human resource.
  • The policy shall weave in the strengths of the Government, research and development organizations, educational institutions, corporate entities including MSMEs, start-ups and other stakeholders in the creation of an innovation-conducive environment, which stimulates creativity and innovation across sectors, as also facilitates a stable, transparent and service-oriented IPR administration in the country.
  • It proposes the establishment of an IP Promotion and Development Council (IPPDC), which would help create a single window system for promotion, awareness and utilization of IP in the country.
  • Stresses on the need to augment the capacity and resources at the disposal of IPOs to deal with the increasing number and complexity of IPR filings in the country in a time-bound and effective manner.
  • The policy suggests the enactment of a law to bring utility models under the IPR legal regime (to tap into the ingenuity of local innovation); introducing a first time patent fee waiver and developing a support system for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) to spur innovation.

Limitations:

  • The policy tries to fit all the IP knowledge in the country into a rigid framework. This would adversely affect certain aspects of IP originating in rural areas.
  • The IPR policy does not acknowledge the threat to India’s traditional knowledge by the other countries trying to patent it for themselves.
  • The policy suggests all professors in educational institutions patent their research and IP be taught in schools and colleges. However patenting research will make it difficult to access for others, it would curb the free flow of knowledge. Creativity not IP knowledge has to be emphasised in educational institutions.
  • Policy recommends criminalization of unauthorised copying of movies – which is just a civil wrong.

Conclusion:

The IPR policy, 2016 heralds a new phase for the intellectual property regulation in the country and hold great potential in boosting innovation. However, its success would depend on how well the limitations are handled.


4. What are the challenges for generic drugs in India? Discuss. Also examine the need to adopt a legal framework for generic drugs in India.

SYNOPSIS:

  • A generic drug is a pharmaceutical drug that is equivalent to a brand-name product in dosage, strength, route of administration, quality, performance, and intended use. Although generic drugs are chemically identical to their branded counterparts, they are typically sold at substantial discounts from the branded price.

CHALLENGES FOR GENERIC DRUGS:

  • There is a distinct lack of awareness about them. Also, since they are cheap, people who can afford branded drugs don’t buy them believing them to be of inferior quality.
  • Private Doctors never hand out generic drugs because there are no kickbacks or incentives involved from pharmaceutical companies.
  • The existing drug market in the country makes it hard to implement. Almost all medicines sold in India have brand names, including generic medicines with brands.
  • About 40% of the estimated 60,000 drug formulations sold in India are fixed dose combinations, or FDCs, of multiple pharmacological ingredients which are only sold through brand names.
  • A study has found “significant variations in drug concentrations and physical properties” of generic formulations of latanoprost, a medicine used to treat glaucoma, an eye disorder.
  • Last year, 27 commonly-used medicines in the country failed quality tests. The drugs were found wanting on several counts, including false labeling and inadequate quantity of ingredients.
  • Prescriptions with generic names have the potential to compromise patient safety because the choice of the medicine to be handed over to patients would shift from the doctor to the retail chemist.
  • Ensuring quality of drugs is a problem in the absence of adequate regulations and shortage of drug inspectors and lab facilities to check drug quality. The number of drug inspectors approximately 1,500 now must be increased.

NEED TO ADOPT LEGAL FRAMEWORK:

  • The health ministry has recently issued a draft gazette notification making it mandatory for pharmaceutical companies to carry generic name of drugs on packs that is at least two fonts larger than the brand name.
  • Experts say the priority of the government should be to bring a legal framework to ensure “quality” in generic drug testing. No more than 1% of generic drugs sold in India undergo quality tests. Generic drugs should work “therapeutically” and the government should ensure “uniform quality”, experts say only then can doctors prescribe them with confidence.
  • Also, the government has to clarify how it will ensure that once a doctor prescribes the generic drug, detailing its medical composition, the pharmacist or chemist will give the most appropriate drug to the patient.
  • The new policy can ensure that at least in the Indian market generic manufacturers retain an advantage. Big Pharmaceuticals access to Indian consumers will have to be routed through generic companies using channels such as voluntary licensing

The efficacy of the proposed law will hinge on the ways in which it brings pharmacists — and not just doctors under its ambit.


5. What is bioprospecting? Discuss its pros and cons. How is it different from biopiracy? Examine.

Bioprospecting is the process of discovery and commercialization of new products based on biological resources. Despite indigenous knowledge being intuitively helpful, bioprospecting has only recently begun to incorporate such knowledge in focusing screening efforts for bioactive compounds. Bioprospecting may involve biopiracy, the exploitative appropriation of indigenous forms of knowledge by commercial actors, and also includes the search for previously unknown compounds in organisms that have never been used in traditional medicine before.

Bioprospecting, if well managed, can be advantageous, since it can generate income for developing countries, and at the same time it can provide incentives for the conservation of biological resources and biodiversity. In addition, it can lead to the development of new products, including for example new medicines. On the other hand, if not well managed, bioprospecting may create a number of problems, including environmental problems related to unauthorized (over-) exploitation, and social and economic problems related to unfair sharing of benefits -or the total absence of benefit sharing- and to disrespect for the rights, knowledge and dignity of local communities.

When using the definition presented above, it could be argued that bioprospecting has been conducted by local people, such as traditional healers, since a long time. This has not created major tensions or problems, since they conducted their bioprospecting activities in their own region and on a relatively small scale. Problems occurred once private organizations or individual prospectors started exploiting bioresources in areas to which they were foreign, without equitable benefit sharing and while neglecting the interests and wishes of local people; a phenomenon that is sometimes referred to as ‘biopiracy’.

Biodiversity-rich countries often face serious problems with regard to the prevention of unauthorized bioprospecting, due to weak law enforcement, which is further worsened by the fact that the practice usually takes place in remote locations. A first step in order to avoid biopiracy would be to develop an integrated and comprehensive national policy on access or -rather- on access and benefit sharing.

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