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24 March 2017 Question Bank

 

24th MARCH 2017 

QUESTION BANK

(2 Questions)

Answer questions in NOT MORE than 200 words each. Content of the answer is more important than its length.

Links are provided for reference. You can also use the Internet fruitfully to further enhance and strengthen your answers.

GS III: INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

1.     CSIR-Tech, the commercialisation arm of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) was shut down recently. Why? How can it be revived successfully?

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/the-compulsive-patent-hoarding-disorder/article17617888.ece

  • It takes money to make money. CSIR-Tech, the commercialisation arm of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), realised this 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 Rs 50 crore over the last three years.

Reasons for its closure:

1.     The closing of CSIR-Tech is a tacit admission that its work has been an expensive mistake.

2.     Recently, CSIRs Director-General Girish Sahni 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.

3.     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.

4.     If CSIR-Tech was privately run, it would have been shut down long ago. The private sector commercialises 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.

5.     Acquiring Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) came here out of our blind adherence to the idea of patenting as an index of innovation.

Distinguishing between IPR generated using public funds from private ones

  • 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 commercialise 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.
  • 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.      

GS II: POLITY

2.     Should Presidential form of Government be introduced in India? Clearly state your stand with justification.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/op-ed/do-we-need-a-presidential-system/article17617761.ece

(Select any one of the following arguments for your answer)

For Presidential System:

1.     There is no genuine separation of powers in the parliamentary system: the legislature cannot truly hold the executive accountable since the government wields the majority in the House.

2.     We must have a system of government whose leaders can focus on governance rather than on staying in power. A system of directly elected chief executives at all levels – panchayat chiefs, town mayors, Chief Ministers (or Governors) and a national President – elected for a fixed term of office, invulnerable to the whims of the legislature, and with clearly defined authority in their respective domains – would permit India to deal more efficiently with its critical economic and social challenges.

3.     Cabinet posts would not be limited to those who are electable rather than those who are able.

4.     The fear that an elected President could become a Caesar is ill-founded since the President’s power would be balanced by directly elected chief executives in the States. In any case, the Emergency demonstrated that even a parliamentary system can be distorted to permit autocratic rule. Dictatorship is not the result of a particular type of governmental system.

5.     Indeed, the President would have to work with Parliament to get his budget through or to pass specific Bills. India’s fragmented polity, with dozens of political parties in the fray, makes a U.S.-style two-party gridlock in Parliament impossible. An Indian presidency, instead of facing a monolithic opposition, would have the opportunity to build issue-based coalitions on different issues, mobilising different temporary alliances of different smaller parties from one policy to the next – the opposite of the dictatorial steamroller some fear a presidential system could produce.

6.     Any politician with aspirations to rule India as President will have to win the support of people beyond his or her home turf; he or she will have to reach out to different groups, interests, and minorities. And since the directly elected President will not have coalition partners to blame for his or her inaction, a presidential term will have to be justified in terms of results, and accountability will be direct and personal.

Against Presidential System:

1.     The Constituent Assembly had made an informed choice after considering both the British model and the American model and after Dr. B.R. Ambedkar had drawn up a balance sheet of their merits and demerits.

2.     A presidential system centralises power in one individual unlike the parliamentary system, where the Prime Minister is the first among equals.

3.     Those who argue in favour of a presidential system often state that the safeguards and checks are in place: that a powerful President can be stalled by a powerful legislature. But if the legislature is dominated by the same party to which the President belongs, a charismatic President or a “strong President” may prevent any move from the legislature.

4.     On the other hand, if the legislature is dominated by a party opposed to the President’s party and decides to checkmate him, it could lead to a stalemate in governance because both the President and the legislature would have democratic legitimacy.

5.     A diverse country like India cannot function without consensus-building.

6.     The other argument, that it is easier to bring talent to governance in a presidential system, is specious. You can get ‘outside’ talent in a parliamentary system too. Right from C.D. Deshmukh to T.A. Pai to Manmohan Singh to M.G.K. Menon to Raja Ramanna, talent has been coming into the parliamentary system with the added safeguard of democratic accountability, because the ‘outsiders’ have to get elected after assuming office. On the other hand, bringing ‘outside’ talent in a presidential system without people being democratically elected would deter people from giving independent advice to the chief executive because they owe their appointment to him/her.

7.     Those who speak in favour of a presidential system have only the Centre in mind. They have not thought of the logical consequence, which is that we will have to move simultaneously to a “gubernatorial” form in the States. A switch at the Centre will also require a change in the States. Are we ready for that?

8.     The presidential system has been debated extensively around two aspects: is it desirable, and second, is it feasible? To tackle the second aspect first, unless the Supreme Court changes its mind, any such amendment would violate the ‘basic structure’ of the Constitution as was decided with, and since, the Kesavnanda Bharti case. There is no way to get around this unless the Supreme Court now takes a wholly different view.

9.     The present parliamentary system has been tried and tested for nearly 70 years. Rather than change the system, why not reform thoroughly and cleanse the electoral processes?

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