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List of Contents
IPR Waiver For Covid 19 Vaccines
Source: Click Here
Syllabus: GS 3 – Issues relating to Intellectual Property Rights.
The US is now supporting the plea of developing countries for granting an IPR waiver to Covid-19 vaccines. The waiver would allow the countries to speed up the production process without the permission of manufacturing company. However, significant roadblocks exist that may prevent the grant of waiver.
- The US has shown its willingness to an IPR waiver for Covid-19 vaccines. It would be pursuing text-based negotiations on the waiver at the World Trade Organization (WTO).
- Under text-based negotiations, negotiators exchange their preferred texts and then try to develop a consensus over them.
- Experts believe that US support is based on an October 2020 proposal given by India and South Africa in the WTO.
- However, the October proposal called for a waiver on all Covid-19 interventions. This includes testing, diagnostics, and novel therapeutics.
|About Patents and Intellectual Property:|
The October 2020 proposal:
- India and South Africa had asked the WTO to waive certain conditions of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement.
- The countries wanted a waiver over sections 1, 4, 5, and 7 that could impede timely access to affordable medical products to combat Covid-19.
- The sections relate to copyright and related rights, industrial designs, patents, and the protection of undisclosed information.
Need of IPR waiver:
- Boost Production: Currently, most production is concentrated in high-income countries. With a waiver, the middle-income countries would be able to manufacture covid vaccines with emergency use authorisations (EUA). This includes vaccines developed by Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Novavax, Bharat Biotech, etc.
- Reducing Cost of Production: The manufacturing in middle-income companies is currently happening through licensing or technology transfer agreements. The companies which grant the license, charge a hefty price for it. The companies would not need a license after an IPR waiver.
- Avert legal Difficulties: The developing countries may face institutional and legal difficulties when using flexibilities available in the TRIPS Agreement. The waiver would help in averting this problem.
Roadblocks in granting IPR waiver:
- Procedure Complexities: The nature of text-based negotiations can delay the process. Further, even one country can veto the waiver as granting requires consensus among all 164 members of WTO.
- Disincentivization of Companies: Waiver may reduce the earning potential of companies. They may be disincentivized to do more research on tackling new variants. This may undermine the global response to the pandemic.
- Erosion of Public Trust: People may not trust the quality and efficacy of vaccines manufactured in a middle-income country.
- Production barriers: Ramping up production capacities will be a lengthy process. The developing countries that are currently producing Covid 19 vaccines are able to do so with the extensive support and grant of developed countries.
Other Challenges concerning the production and distribution of Covid vaccines in developing countries:
- Scarcity of Raw Material: It has been a growing issue for ramping up production. Several manufacturers have been relying on specific suppliers, and alternatives are limited.
- Trade Barriers: US has blocked exports of critical raw materials used in the Covid-19 vaccines using regulations like the American Defence Production Act. This led to a delay in the production of Covid vaccines by some companies in India.
- Acquisition Capability of Developed World: They have a higher propensity to purchase the vaccine. This has enabled them to acquire most of the supplies.
- The developed countries should understand the plight of developing countries under the current extraordinary circumstances. The recent intention of the EU to support the U.S proposal should be materialised in reality.
- Further, other covid related interventions including testing, diagnostics, and novel therapeutics should be made part of IPR waiver proposal.
- The developing world should be given an opportunity to develop cheap and efficacious vaccines. They have already shown their manufacturing capabilities by developing good quality generic medicines in the past.
SC struck down the Maharashtra State Reservation for SEBC Act, 2018
Source: Click Here
Syllabus: GS 2 – Mechanisms, Laws, Institutions, and Bodies constituted for the Protection and Betterment of these Vulnerable Sections.
The SC has struck down the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018. The judgment would prevent realization of unjust benefits by the reservation. It would also encourage states to work on core supply-side issues in education and public employment which would curtail unnecessary demand for reservation.
- The five-judge bench of SC has struck down the Maharashtra State Reservation for Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBC) Act, 2018.
- The act provided reservations for the Maratha community in public education and employment.
About the SEBC Act 2018:
- It provides 16 percent reservation to the Maratha community in jobs and admissions.
- The law views the Maratha community as a socially and educationally backward class (SEBC).
Genesis of SEBC Act 2018:
- It was an outcome of a prolonged political campaign by the dominant Maratha community and significant support by the political parties. The community possesses a strong foothold in state politics, the running of cooperatives and educational institutions, and ownership of land.
- The issue of reservation was rejected by at least three national commissions and three state commissions in the past.
- However, in 2018, the Maharashtra State Backward Class Commission (headed by Justice M.G. Gaikwad) recommended reservation for the Marathas. The Commission believed that extraordinary circumstances existed for a Maratha quota.
Judgment of SC:
- The court held that the 2018 act goes against Articles 14 and 15 (right to equality and protection against discrimination) of the Indian Constitution. It exceeds the ceiling of 50% reservation set by the 1992 Indra Sawhney judgment.
- Further, the act fails to prove the existence of ‘extraordinary circumstances’ under which the 50% limit can be breached. The data collected and presented by the (Justice Gaikwad) Commission proves that the Marathas are not socially and educationally backward.
- The court held that the 102nd Constitution Amendment has taken away the power of states to identify Socially and Educationally Backward Classes (SEBCs). It means that the Centre alone is empowered to identify SEBC.
- The States could only make suggestions to the President or the statutory commissions for inclusion, exclusion, or modification in the SEBC List.
- The judgment should act as an eye-opener for other dominant communities that are demanding reservation. Eg – Patidars in Gujarat.
- The Maharashtra Government can undertake a fresh study to support the Maratha claim for backward status and affirmative action. However, a more prudent approach would be to solve supply-side issues in education and employment. This would curtail unnecessary demand for reservation.
- A review of inclusion/exclusion power in the SEBC list can be held as some experts believe that participation of states ensures better recognition.
Recent Communal Riots in Northern Ireland have Lessons For India
Source: The Hindu
Gs1: Social Empowerment, Communalism, Regionalism & Secularism.
Synopsis: Recently, communal riots broke out in Ireland. India can take a few lessons from that. A committed political leadership should take responsibility for peoples’ social and economic problems and should make efforts to alleviate their miseries.
- Recently, communal clashes broke out in Ireland between the Protestant pro-British loyalist unionists and the Catholic pro-Irish nationalists.
- The Protestant pro-British loyalist unionists wanted that Northern Ireland to remain part of the United Kingdom forever.
- Whereas, the Catholic pro-Irish nationalists, wanted that Northern Ireland to become part of the Republic of Ireland.
What are the reasons for the riot?
The riot is a result of many problems such as ideology towards change, resistance to change, and sustained political and social inertia towards the misery of vulnerable sections.
- First, political leadership’s apathy towards addressing social issues.
- Even after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Good Friday Agreement in 1998, both religious communities experienced little or no peace.
- Poverty, deprivation, lack of social and economic opportunities and persistent high unemployment affects both nationalist and loyalist similarly in Northern Ireland.
- It has also resulted in an abnormal number of suicides between 1998 and 2014.
- The localities most deprived during the pre-agreement communal riots remain the most deprived areas within Northern Ireland today.
- Second, differences in ideologies towards change (Brexit). While the Catholic pro-Irish nationalists wanted to stay with European Union, the Protestant pro-British loyalist unionists campaigned for Brexit.
- However, 56% of electorates in Northern Ireland voted to remain in the European Union. This has resulted in a special protocol for Northern Ireland.
- It provided for the territory to remain in the customs union and single market of the European Union while protecting its status as part of the United Kingdom. Much of the present anger relates to this specific protocol.
What lessons can India learn from this?
- First, a functioning democracy must ensure a daily commitment to address communal issues with vigilance, tolerance, and compromise.
- Second, Political leadership should take responsibility for peoples’ social and economic problems and work towards eliminating prejudices within communities.
- Third, Political parties should be aware that, creating religious tensions between communities will severely damage every section of society as well as political and national institutions.
What is Social Murder and How to Ensure Accountability in Patrimonial state?
Source: The Hindu
GS2: Important Aspects of Governance, Transparency and Accountability
Synopsis: The lack of political attention to social determinants and inequities that exacerbate the pandemic in India is a classic case of ‘Social Murder’.
What is Social Murder?
- Friedrich Engels, used this phrase to describe the death of the worker population in England during the Industrial revolution era.
- Lack of access to basic necessities of life along with poor working and living conditions for the workers resulted in ill health and early deaths. Engels calls this social murder.
- It is the same as murder by an individual, but the only difference is that death appears to be a “natural one”.
- Similarly, according to the author, the inability to make the state accountable for the loss of lives in the Pandemic is social murder.
- A classic case of social murder is the reverse migration of millions of inter-State migrant labor walking thousands of kilometers.
What fosters the conditions for social murder?
The state’s neglect of its responsibility towards its citizens will perpetuate conditions for social murder. For instance,
- Holding elections in Bengal by the Election Commission of India,
- The Uttarakhand Chief Minister justifying the Kumbh mela.
- The inability of the State to Provide oxygen supply for Covid-19 Patients.
- Prohibition on media to telecast Cremation grounds.
What is the relation between Patrimonial state, accountability, Social murder?
- A patrimonial state according to Max Weber, is a state in which the ruler exercises a traditional form of authority in contrast to a rule-based authority.
- Here, the centralised rule is based on an ideology of religious majoritarianism as well as nationalism. It is further legitimized by the election wins.
- The patrimonial State is benevolent towards its subjects. The author views India currently as a Patrimonial state.
- But, the fundamental problem in patrimonialism is ensuring accountability of the government.
- For instance, recently, the Swedish Prime Minister was subjected to questioning by a constitutional committee on COVID-19 handling.
- Whereas, in India, there is no mechanism for ensuring critical scrutiny on the government decisions that led to the current crisis.
- Also, there is no accountability mechanism when the state moves away from its benevolence posture. For instance, shifting the responsibility of procuring oxygen cylinders or arranging ambulances on citizens. Also, The Uttar Pradesh government charging people with First Information Reports (FIRs) for requesting oxygen.
- All these acts of the state that are undemocratic cannot be made accountable in a Patrimonial state as the Citizens are seen as a subject of the state.
- Further, the prejudice, preconceived opinions cultivated by the ruling class to hold power is sanctioning social murder by turning the citizen blind to social realities.
Unless people become citizens and not subjects under patrimonial rule, the pandemic will pose a threat to Indian democracy as well.