08 May, 2021 - Daily Current Affairs Analysis & MCQs - The Daily News Simplified from The Hindu
UPSC Current Affairs: The fig leaf of patent protection has to drop | Page – 6
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Economy | GS Paper III – Economy
Sub Theme: Patent Waiver under WTO| WIPO | TRIPS | UPSC
Context: Editorial is dealing with the recent proposal of US to waive of Patent protection to those goods and services that targets fight against COVID pandemic. Earlier India and South Africa gave a proposal in WTO to waive-off tight patent regime on equipment and supplies for COVID prevention. But nations like US, UK, Australia, EU, Norway, Switzerland, and Japan were against this proposal despite support the support from 60 nations.
More on IPR:
IPR refers to the creations of minds such as inventions, literary and artistic work, designs and symbols, names, and images in commerce.
Rights on IPR means providing property rights through patents, copyrights, and trademarks.
The importance of IPR was first recognized in the
- Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883) &
- Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary & Artistic Works (1886).
Both are administered by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
- IPRs have been outlined in Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
- WTO governs IPR through Trade-Related Aspects of the Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
World Intellectual Property Organisation:
- WIPO is one of the 15 specialized agencies of the United Nations (UN).
- WIPO was created to promote and protect intellectual property (IP) across the world by cooperating with countries as well as international organizations.
- It began operations in 1970.
- Headquarters: Geneva, Switzerland.
- WIPO currently has 193 member states.
- WIPO’s activities includehosting forums to discuss and shape international IP rules and policies,providing global services that register and protect IP in different countries,resolving transboundary IP disputes,helping connect IP systems through uniform standards and infrastructure, andserving as a general reference database on all IP matters.
TRIPS is an international agreement on intellectual property rights.
The Agreement covers most forms of intellectual property including
- geographical indications,
- industrial designs,
- trade secrets, &
- exclusionary rights over new plant varieties.
It came into force in 1995 & is binding on all members of the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Given to new product and process.
Patent acts, 1970
DPIIT, Ministry of Commerce
Period 20 years
Given to a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, image, or combination of these elements.
Trademark act, 1999
DPIIT, Ministry of Commerce
Period 10 years
It is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and protection) Act, 1999.
DPIIT, Ministry of Commerce
Period 10 years
It is a bundle of rights given by the law to the creators of literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works and the producers of cinematograph films and sound recordings.
Copyright Act 1957
Copyrights Office, MoHRD
Period 60 years.
It may consist 3D features such as shape of an article or 2D feature such as Patterns, lines, or colour.
Design Act, 2000
DPIIT, Ministry of Commerce
Period 10 years (5 grace years)
Plant Variety Protection
Protection granted for plant varieties. These rights are given to the farmers and plant breeders to encourage the development of new varieties of plants.
Protection of Plant varieties and farmers’ right act, 2011.
Ministry of Agriculture
15 years to field crops & 18 years to Trees and vines.
Semi-conductors and integrated layouts
Semi-conductor layout design means a layout of transistors and other circuitry elements and expressed in any manner in semi-conductor integrated circuits.
Semi-conductors and integrated layouts design act, 2000
Department of electronics and IT, Ministry of Communication, and IT.
CIPAM (Cell for IPR Promotion & Management) has been created as a professional body under the aegis of DPIIT to take forward the implementation of the National IPR Policy 2016.
- CIPAM is working towards creating public awareness about IPRs in the country,
- Promoting the filing of IPRs through facilitation.
- Providing inventors with a platform to commercialize their IP assets &
- Coordinating the implementation of the National IPR Policy in collaboration with Government Ministries/Departments & other stakeholders.
Issues in IPR:
- Evergreening of the patents for multinational companies: Evergreening is strategy for extending the term of granted patent which is about to expire without increasing therapeutic efficacy in order to retain royalties. However, the companies cannot evergreen their patents simply by making minor changes. So, section 3(d) in the Indian Patent Act (IPA) possesses as one of the biggest issues with regards to IPR. This implied that India did not support patents for inventions which were minor modifications and prevented undue monopoly during the extended period of patent protection by the company.
- Use of compulsory licensing: Compulsory licenses are authorizations given to a third-party by the Government to make, use or sell a particular patented product without the need of the permission of the patent owner. The provisions regarding compulsory licenses are given in the Indian Patents Act, 1970 & in the TRIPS (Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) Agreement.
It is a relaxation available to the developing countries under the TRIPS agreement, something which organizations misuse sometimes. Moreover, under section 84 of the IPA, a company can acquire a compulsory license for “private commercial use” under certain circumstances.
With the Drug Price Control Order, the company needs to justify the price of the drug with regards to investments. If someone plays foul, then the government has the right to intervene. Multinationals are asking the government to revoke this provision. However, the government is not ceding the demands to protect the interest of the masses.
UPSC Current Affairs: Digital divide curbs vaccine access | Page – 5
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Social Justice | Mains – GS Paper II – Social Justice
Sub Theme: Digital Divide | Urban-Rural divide | Digital Gender Divide | UPSC
What is Digital divide?
A digital divide is any uneven distribution in the access to, use of, or impact of information and communications technologies between any number of distinct groups, which can be defined based on social, geographical, or geopolitical criteria, or otherwise
Social: Internet penetration is associated with greater social progress of a nation. Thus digital divide in a way hinders the social progress of a country. Rural India is suffering from information poverty due to the digital divide. It only strengthens the vicious cycle of poverty, deprivation, and backwardness.
Economic: The digital divide causes economic inequality between those who can afford the technology and those who don’t.
Political: In the age of social media, political empowerment and mobilization are difficult without digital connectivity.
Governance: Transparency and accountability are dependent on digital connectivity. The digital divide affects e-governance initiatives negatively.
Educational: The digital divide is also impacting the capacity of children to learn and develop.Without Internet access, students cannot build the required tech skills.
1) Telecom facility, not digital progression
- According to a report released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI), the country had over 1,160 million wireless subscribers in February 2020, up from 1,010 million in February 2016.
- This is a rise of 150 million subscribers in five years or 30 million per year.
- The growth has been evenly distributed in urban and rural areas, with the number of urban subscribers increasing by 74 million (from 579 million to 643 million) and rural subscribers by 86 million (from 431 million to 517 million).
- But this growth only indicates the rise in basic telecommunication facility.
2) The Urban-Rural Divide
- Services such as online classrooms, financial transactions and e-governance require access to the internet as well as the ability to operate internet-enabled devices like phones, tablets and computers.
- Here the urban-rural distinction is quite stark.
- According to the NSSO conducted between July 2017 and June 2018, just 4.4 rural households have a computer, against 14.4 per cent in an urban area.
- It had just 14.9 per cent rural households having access to the internet against 42 per cent households in urban areas.
- Similarly, only 13 per cent people of over five years of age in rural areas have the ability to use the internet against 37 per cent in urban areas.
3) Regional Divide
- States too greatly differ in terms of people that have access to computers or in the know-how to use the internet.
- Himachal Pradesh leads the country in access to the internet in both, rural and urban areas.
- Uttarakhand has the most number of computers in urban areas, while Kerala has the most number of computers in rural areas.
- Overall, Kerala is the state where the difference between rural and urban areas is the least.
4) Digital Gender Divide
- India has among the world’s highest gender gap in access to technology.
- Only 21 per cent of women in India are mobile internet users, according to GSMA’s 2020 mobile gender gap report, while 42 per cent of men have access. The report says that while 79 per cent of men own a mobile phone in the country, the number for women is 63 per cent.
- While there do economic barriers to girls’ own a mobile phone or laptop, cultural and social norms also play a major part.
- The male-female gap in mobile use often exacerbates other inequalities for women, including access to information, economic opportunities, and networking.
- The earning member of the family has to carry the phone while going out to work.
- Access to phones and the internet is not just an economic factor but also social and cultural.
- If one family has just one phone, there is a good chance that the wife or the daughter will be the last one to use it.
Programmes for Addressing the Challenges in Bridging the Digital Divide:
India taking significant steps towards acquiring competence in information and technology, the country is increasingly getting divided between people who have access to technology and those who do not.
- The Indian government has passed Information Technology Act, 2000 to make to e- commerce and e-governance a success story in India along with national e-governance plan.
- Optical Fibre Network (NOF-N), a project aimed to ensure broadband connectivity to over two lakh (200,000) gram panchayats of India by 2016.
- Digital Mobile Library: In order to bridge the digital divide in a larger way the government of India, in collaboration with the Centre for Advanced Computing (C–DAC) based in Pune.
- Unnati, is a project of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) which strives to bridge the digital divide in schools by giving the rural students with poor economic and social background access to computer education.
- E-pathshala: to avail study materials for every rural and urban student.
- Common Service Centres: which enabled the digital reach to unreachable areas.
Initiatives of State Government:
- Sourkaryan and E–Seva: Project of the government of Andhra Pradesh to provides the facility for a citizen to pay property taxes online.
- The Gyandoot Project: It is the first ever project in India for a rural information network in the Dhar district of Madhya Pradesh which has the highest percentage of tribes and dense forest. The project was designed to extend the benefits of information technology to people in rural areas by directly linking the government and villagers through information kiosks
- The promotion of indigenous ICT development under Atmanirbhar Abhiyan can play a significant role. The promotion of budget mobile phones is the key.
- The creation of market competition between service providers may make services cheaper.
- Efficient spectrum allocation in large contiguous blocks should be
- We should also explore migration to new technologies like 5G. It would resolve some of the bandwidth challenges.
2.. Digital literacy
- Digital literacy needs special attention at the school / college level.
- The National Digital Literacy Mission should focus on introducing digital literacy at the primary school level in all government schools for basic content and in higher classes and colleges for advanced content.
- When these students will educate their family members, it will create multiplier effects. Higher digital literacy will also increase the adoption of computer hardware across the country.
- State governments should pay particular attention to content creation in the Indian regional languages, particularly those related to government services.
- Natural language processing ( NLP) in Indian languages needs to be promoted.
- Role of regulators
- Regulators should minimize entry barriers by reforming licensing, taxation, spectrum allocation norms.
- TRAI should consider putting in place a credible system. This system will track call drops, weak signals, and outages. It ensures the quality and reliability of telecom services.
- MeitY will need to evolve a comprehensive cybersecurity framework for data security, safe digital transactions, and complaint redressal.
- The government should also set up telecom ombudsman for the redress of grievances.
- The Standing Committee on Information Technology in January 2019 concluded that the digital literacy efforts of the government are far from satisfactory.
- Clearly, internet penetration is not deep enough. At one level, we all recognise that the internet has become indispensable.
- On another level, it still doesn’t have adequate attention of the decision-makers.
- The most crucial need of the hour is to ensure uninterrupted internet services.
- UPSC Current Affairs: Jal Shakti Abhiyaan; Atal Bhujal Yojana; Jal Jeevan Mission
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Government Schemes | Mains – GS Paper II – Governance
Sub Theme: Jal Shakti Abhiyaan; Atal Bhujal Yojana; Jal Jeevan Mission | UPSC
Jal Shakti Abhiyan
- It is a time-bound, mission-mode water conservation campaign. It will run in two Phases:
- Phase 1 from 1st July to 15th September 2019 for all States and Union Territories
- Phase 2 from 1st October to 30th November 2019 for States and UTs receiving the retreating monsoon.
- The latter includes Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Puducherry, and Tamil Nadu.
- Officers, groundwater experts and scientists from the Government will work together with state and district officials in India’s most water-stressed districts.
- These are the 255 districts having critical and over-exploited groundwater levels.
- The focus is on water conservation and water resource management by focusing on accelerated implementation of five target intervention.
- The campaign was not intended to be a funding programme and did not create any new intervention on its own.
- It only aimed to make water conservation a people’s movement through ongoing schemes like the MGNREGA and other government programmes.
Atal Bhujal Yojana
- It is a Central Sector Scheme aims to improve ground water management through community participation in identified priority areas in seven States.
- It will be implemented over a period of 5 years (2020-21 to 2024-25). The states are Gujarat, Haryana, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh.
- It will promote panchayat led ground water management and behavioural changes with primary focus on demand side management.
- It has two major components such as, 1. Institutional Strengthening and Capacity Building Component 2. Incentive Component for the States.
- The total outlay of Rs 6,000 Crore, 50% shall be in the form of World Bank loan and will be repaid by the Central Government.
- The remaining 50% shall be through Central assistance from regular budgetary support.
- All of it will be given to the states as grants.
Jal Jeevan Mission
- The Central Government assistance to States for rural water supply began in 1972 with the launch of Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme.
- It was renamed as National Rural Drinking Water Programme (NRDWP) in 2009, which is a centrally sponsored scheme with fund sharing between the Centre and the States.
- Under NRDWP, one of the objectives was to ―enable all households to have access to and use safe & adequate drinking water within premises to the extent possible.
- It was proposed to achieve the goal by 2030, coinciding with the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. But now, it has been planned to achieve the goal by 2024 through Jal Jeevan Mission (JJM).
- Thus, Government of India has restructured and subsumed the ongoing NRDWP into Jal Jeevan Mission.
- It aims to provide Functional Household Tap Connection to every rural household i.e., Har Ghar Nal Se Jal by 2024.
- The new guidelines will emphasise the critical role of the gram panchayat level to run and maintain the water supply system in their community and bring in systems for water use charges.
- Water is the State subject. Thus, the implementation must be done through the States. The fund sharing pattern to be 90:10 for Himalayan and North-Eastern States; 50:50 for other States and 100% for UTs.
- The fund released by Central Government to the State Governments is to be deposited in one Single Nodal Account (SNA) that will be maintained by SWSM. Public Finance Management System (PFMS) should be used for tracking the funds.
UPSC Current Affairs: Rent issues & Affordable Housing
UPSC Syllabus: Prelims: Social Justice | Mains – GS Paper II – Social Justice
Sub Theme: The Problem of Rent for informal workers | Affordable Housing | UPSC
Context: Amid ongoing hardship, the problem of non-payment of rent especially by families belonging to the lower strata of society has emerged. Non-payment of rent can be directly associated with loss of income during the present hardship which is been faced by people who mostly works in the informal sector of the economy or who are employed on daily wages. Rent crisis hurts the Informal workers disproportionately because unlike formal work force they don’t have regular income source and they are neither provided with accommodation like public sector employees.
The Problem of Rent for informal workers
- The Article highlights that in any kind of crisis, the issue of rent does not get as much attention as food and income support do.
- Domestic workers in Jaipur, Rajasthan, have begun reporting to the Rajasthan Mahila Kamgar Union (RMKU) that landlords are not in favour of waiving off rent this time as compared to last year.
- Surveys have revealed that:
- Rent of such sections of the society (mostly working in the informal sector) formed 40 per cent of average expenses during first lockdown.
- Rent is a majority component of debt post the lockdowns, and
- Rent has been a key component of the vulnerability of urban workers.
- Above mentioned aspects of rent crisis is not only the problem of domestic workers but inability to pay rent was one of the main reasons cited by migrants in their decision to leave cities and walk along highways last year.
Order from Ministry of Home Affairs
- Where ever the workers, including the migrants, are living in rented accommodation, the landlords of those properties shall not demand payment of rent for the period of one month.
Problems with the Order from MHA
- The order was vague as it did not clarify whether the landlord should defer or delay rent collection or waive off the completely for certain period of time.
- It offered no relief or alternate compensation to the landlords.
- It offered relief only for one month whereas loss of job for many in the informal sector was for more than one month.
- Most landlords relied on rental income for their own sustenance, hence some of them did not waive off rent even in the last year’s lockdown.
- Most of the Rents were unenforceable due to lack of proper Rent Agreements.
- In most cases, it was the tenants who had to negotiate with their landlords and request for leniency.
Hardships faced by Informal Workers to pay Rent
- Some landlords waived off rent for a month or two while others agreed to defer the rent. A few made no compromises and expected the rent to be paid on time, sometimes employing threats and coercion.
- Domestic workers had to make difficult trade-offs, redirecting money reserved for necessary expenses such as food, school fees, and life savings to be able to pay rent and retain a roof over their heads.
- With pending rent and school fees worsening with no money coming in, many domestic workers had to borrow from informal moneylenders. This further led them into debt trap as these informal money lenders charge very high rate of interest.
- Even in cases where the rent was deferred, it led to a piling up of debts for domestic workers who took more than a few months to get even a part of their jobs back.
- Some domestic workers borrowed from their employers, on the condition of paying it off with their work over the next few months, which meant a further paucity in income.
- So, in this context it is imperative to learn lessons from the migrant crisis of last year to protect the rental housing of informal workers early, effectively, and expansively.
Rent is important especially for permanent migrants who have settled in urban cities
- Rent is an important part of lives for such families in the informal sector who have settled for a substantial period of time in any city and do not consider themselves as migrant.
- For such families, returning back to their villages is not an option because of their investment in the city. Also because their children study in schools.
- Further, such families lack necessary skills for agricultural employment and have lost social contact in their villages.
- These families can be still be considered migrant as they are excluded from state government programmes as they are not registered in their state due to lack of ration cards.
- Thus, for such families, whose main bread earners work in the informal sectors for decades, Rent must be seen as a key part of the urban social safety net, as critical as food and wage.
- A moratorium should be announced with a clearer enforcement mechanism and a clear distinction between deferment and rent waivers.
- Landlords should be offered means to access partial compensation for lost rent from the state shifting the onus onto them rather than on workers.
- Cash transfers being conceptualised by many State governments must treat “rent” on a par with food and income support.
- The amount of cash transfer for rent support can be estimated on the basis of the rental market conditions.
- States can also aid workers through limited waivers on utility expenses such as waiving off electricity bills, water charges etc.
Challenges that impede the growth of affordable housing sector in urban areas:
- Rigid rental laws and high property taxes have led to the decline of formal rental housing and driven the sector into informal housing arrangements. These informal arrangements don’t protect the tenant from illegal evictions and high rents
- Land use regulation is stringent, limiting affordable housingsupply
Ex: Floor space index is very low in India
- Property rights are weak as land records do not guaranteeownership(In India, land titles are presumptive in nature), constraining housing supply.
- Inadequate housing credit to Low Income groups (LIG) because of their weak credit worthiness and low disposable incomes
- Transaction costs, especially stamp duties levied by states on the sale of immovablepropertyare high
- I) Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Housing for All - Urban)
Objective: The Mission addresses urban housing shortage among the EWS/LIG and MIG categories
Beneficiaries: Economically weaker section (EWS), low-income groups (LIGs) and Middle Income Groups (MIGs). The annual income cap is up to Rs 3 lakh for EWS, Rs 3-6 lakh for LIG and Rs 6 -18 lakhs for MIG
In-situ Slum Redevelopment (ISSR):
This vertical will be implemented with a concept “Land as a resource” with private sector participation for providing houses to eligible slum dwellers. Central Assistance of Rs. 1 lakh per house is admissible for all houses built
Credit Linked Subsidy Scheme (CLSS):
Beneficiaries of EWS, LIG and MIG seeking housing loans from Banks,are eligible for an interest subsidy of 6.5%, 4% and 3% respectively
Affordable Housing in Partnership (AHP):
Central Assistance of Rs. 1.5 Lakh per EWS house is provided by the Government of India for houses built by private players. States also extend other concessions such as land at affordable cost, stamp duty exemption etc.A housing project will be eligible for Central Assistance, if at least 35% of the houses in the project are for EWS category
Subsidy for Beneficiary-led individual house construction:
Central Assistance upto Rs. 1.5 lakh per EWS house is provided to eligible families belonging to EWS categories for individual house constructed by themselves
Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHCs) for Migrant Workers/ Urban Poor:
- A sub-scheme under Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana - Urban (PMAY-U) initiated in the wake of reverse migration of urban migrants, during COVID pandemic, to save cost on housing
Beneficiaries: Beneficiaries for ARHCs are urban migrants/ poor from EWS/LIG categories comprising of street vendors, rickshaw pullers and other service providers, industrial workers along with migrants working with market/ trade associations, educational/ health institutions, hospitality sector, long term tourists/ visitors, students or any other category.
The ARHC scheme will be implemented through two models:
- i) Utilizing existing Government funded vacant houses to convert into ARHCs through Public Private Partnership or by Public Agencies
ii)Construction, Operation and Maintenance of ARHCs by Public/ Private Entities on their own vacant land
- II) Draft Model tenancy ACT 2020:
The Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has prepared a ‘Draft Model Tenancy Act, 2020(MTA)’ with the objective of balancing the interests and rights of landlords and tenantsto create a more efficient and transparent Rental market in Housing sector.
(It is a draft act because land and urban development is a state subject)
- All premises (residential or commercial) shall be rented only after a written agreement on mutually agreed terms (No more informal arrangements)
- MTA caps the security deposit payable by the tenant to a maximum of two (2) months in the case of residential premises and to a maximum of six (6) months in the case of non-residential premises.
- No landlordshall withhold any essential supply or service in the premises occupied by the tenant
- Restriction on Sub-Letting by tenant
- Rent Authority: An officer of the rank of deputy collector or higher will act as rent authority to adjudicate any issue arising out of a rental disagreement
- Rent court and Tribunal: Additional District Magistrate or an officer of equivalent rank shall be the Rent Court for the purposes of this Act, within his jurisdiction. District Judge to be appointed as Rent Tribunal in each district
Conclusion: Directive Principles of State Policy encourages the State to secure, among others, a decent standard of living for all. This goal cannot be achieved without providing adequate and affordable Housing to the marginal section of the society. Urban safety nets must bring together food, income and rent so that no person should be forced to live destitute life because of any kind of hardships.