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Swadeshi Jagaran Manch asks govt to reconstitute IPR Think Tank to remove conflict of interest

Ramesh Shankar, Mumbai
Tuesday, March 31, 2015, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]

The Swadeshi Jagaran Manch, a public interest group, has demanded to the Union commerce ministry to reconstitute the Think Tank on IPR to remove the conflict of interest and also to ensure the involvement of academics especially with exposure to development economics, industrial policy, technology policy and innovation.

In a letter to minister of commerce and industry Nirmala Sitharaman, the Manch pointed out that there is conflict of interest among the members of the Think Tank. The Convenor of the Think Tank Y K Sabarwal, an ex WIPO bureaucrat, is the Convenor of the IPR Committee of FICCI, a body dominated by multinational companies. His membership in the Think Tank compromises its neutrality. Similarly another member Prathiba Singh appears for telecom and pharmaceutical multinational firms also raises serious concern of conflict interest.  The conflict of interest of these members of the Think Tank would act as a barrier to draw a National IPR Policy to address the development needs of the nation.

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) in November last year had constituted a IPR Think Tank to draft the National Intellectual Property Rights Policy and to advice the DIPP on IPR issues.

Justice (Retd) Prabha Sridevan is the chairperson of the IPR Think Tank. Other members of the IPR Think Tank include Pratibha M. Singh, Senior Advocate; Punita Bhargava, Advocate, Inventure IP; Dr. Unnat Pandit, Cadila Pharmaceuticals Limited; Rajeev Srinivasan, Director, Asian School of Business, Thiruvananthapuram; and Narendra K. Sabarwal, Retired DDG, WIPO.

In the letter, the Manch also demanded to the commerce ministry to reorient the approach of the Think Tank and National IPR Policy to address the technological and development needs of the nation and also to put an end to the unreasonable hurry in the formulation of National IPR Policy and commission studies and consultations to identify the development and technological needs of the nation. The Manch also asked the ministry to direct the reconstituted IP Think Tank to identify the suboptimal flexibilities in the national IP regime and make recommendation to optimise the use of flexibilities.

The Manch also expressed concern on the draft IPR Policy released by the IPR Think Tank recently.

“The draft policy seriously undermines India’s technological progress in critical areas to address the development challenges of the nation. It is a well-recognised fact that in spite of technological progress in areas such as space technology and pharmaceuticals, India is technologically dependent on several critical areas especially to revival of manufacturing sector, which is necessary to transform the economy. The current scenario calls for a series of policy measures to facilitate technology catching up and dissemination to promote domestic entrepreneurship across the various sectors of the economy. Therefore the domestic IP regime should play a facilitative role to support technology catching up and dissemination” Swadeshi Jagaran Manch's co-convenor AshwaniMahajan in the letter said.


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