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More regulation is required to ensure the credibility of the GI protection process

Context:The Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) under the aegis of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce and Industry, launched a social media campaign to promote Geographical Indications (GIs) with the hashtag #LetsTalkIP.What is Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)? *Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) are legal rights, which result from intellectual invention, innovation and discovery in the industrial, scientific, literary and artistic fields.*These rights entitle an individual or group to the moral and economic rights of creators in their creation.What are the different forms of IPRs? *Patent-It is a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor for a limited period of time in exchange for detailed public disclosure of an invention *Copyright-It is a legal right created by the law of a country that grants the creator of an original work exclusive right for its use and distribution. It includes literary & artistic works such as novels, poems, plays, films, musical works, drawing, painting, photography, sculpture, architectural designs *Trademark-It is a recognizable sign, design, or expression which identifies products or services of a particular source from those of others. Trademarks used to identify services are usually called service marks.*Industrial design right-It is an intellectual property right that protects the visual design of objects that are not purely utilitarian. An industrial design consists of the creation of a shape, configuration or composition of pattern or color, or combination of pattern and color in three-dimensional form containing aesthetic value.*Trade secret-It is a formula, practice, process, design, instrument, pattern, commercial method, or compilation of information which is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable by others, and by which a business can obtain an economic advantage over competitors or customers *Geographical Indication (GI)- It is a name or sign used on certain products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin (e.g. a town, region, or country). The use of a geographical indication may act as a certification that the product possesses certain qualities, is made according to traditional methods, or enjoys a certain reputation, due to its geographical origin. A recent example is of Indian variety of Basmati rice getting GI tag. What is a Geographical Indication? *A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. *The qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin.*Who protected geographical indications? Under the World Trade Organization (WTO) Agreement on Trade related aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), WTO members have a mandatory responsibility to recognize and protect GIs as intellectual property rights. There are three main ways to protect a geographical indication: *so-called Sui generis system (i.e. special regimes of protection); *using collective or certificate and *Methods focusing on business practices, including administrative product approval schemes. What is Geographical Indication of Goods Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 (GI Act)? *The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 (GI Act) is a   sui generis   act of Parliament for protection of  geographical indications in India. *The GI tag ensures that none other than those registered as authorised users (or at least those residing inside the geographic territory) are allowed to use the popular product name.*Darjeeling tea became the first GI tagged   product in India, in 2004–05, since then 261 goods had been added to the list as of June 2016. Why GIs are so important?*GIs are of utmost importance to the country as they are an integral part of India’s rich culture and collective intellectual heritage.*Goods branded as GIs can be made indigenously by local communities independently and in a self-sustaining manner.*It Prevents unauthorised use of a Registered Geographical Indication by others.*It promotes economic prosperity of producers of goods produced in a geographical territory. *GIs can also promote rural development in a significant manner and could be fitted in as the most ideal intellectual property right to bolster a programme such as ‘Make in India’. *A GI is supposed to convey to a consumer the assurance of a certain quality, reputation or other characteristics of the goods on which it is applied, which are essentially attributable to its geographical origin. What are the recent steps taken by the government ? *Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recently released India’s new National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy. *What is the National IPR Policy? According to the government, the National IPR Policy is 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. *Human Capital Development: To strengthen and expand human resources, institutions and capacities for teaching, training, research and skill building in IPRs.

Shifting tax administration from an enforcement to a service-based model will lead to higher yields

ContextThe tax structure of the country is making a paradigm shift both in terms of direct and indirect tax, but it still requires more clarity and fairness in the assessment and collection of the taxes, so as to bring in more trust among the taxpayers. Is there any Certainty in the Tax Structure? *Taxpayers are looking for certainty in the tax structure of the country which is witnessing a transition.*Though the purpose is to make the tax collection system more efficient and productive, at the same time the tax levied and the way it is collected should deem fit to the suitability of the tax payers. *This is where an internationally recognised concept such as taxpayer rights holds well even in the Indian context. What is Government strategies to its support ? *The Central government has developed strategies in the form of campaigns like ‘Make in India’ and ‘Startup India’. *The recent introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), which is the most significant overhaul of the taxation system in India ever, also aims to achieve a unified market across the nation for the first time. What is the motto for the concept of taxpayer rights? *By introducing this new tax regime of GST, the government has made it clear that it wants to transform India into a manufacturing, investment and research and development hub and consequentially, there would also be an increase in revenue generation. *In the light of such economic aspirations, a fair balance between taxpayer rights and obligations will only ensure a higher degree of trust between the tax collector and taxpayer, thus leading to a higher tax yield. Where are the drawbacks? *India has seen key tax disputes ever since a similar growth-oriented road map was adopted by the government in the early 1990s. *For instance, in order to attract investments, the government signed Double Taxation. *Avoidance Agreements (DTAAs) with states like Singapore and Cyprus on similar treaty terms as the India-Mauritius DTAA signed in 1983. *In the long run, they proved to be detrimental for India. *Multiple disputes relating to capital gains surfaced due to exploitation of legal loopholes in these DTAAs. *Another example is of ‘transfer pricing’ mechanism (the rules and methods for pricing transactions between enterprises under common ownership or control), where there was little clarity with respect to international transactions between associated enterprises before April 2001. *Even after the introduction of a dedicated transfer pricing segment in the Income Tax Act, the chaos could not be curtailed as the determination of arm’s length price (the price of such international transactions in open market conditions) would almost always be a contentious exercise. *India ended up being party to more than half of the global transfer pricing disputes by 2014. What is the government measures in regards of transfer pricing disputes? *After it lost to Vodafone over a capital gains dispute, the government came up with aggressive measures not only to to augment its revenue generation capabilities but also to counter any such abusive avoidance strategies by taxpayers henceforth. *Retrospective amendments were made to the Income Tax Act to supersede the adverse judgment of the Supreme Court in 2012, which were not limited in effect to only Vodafone but several such disputes relating to taxation of capital gains and deemed income of numerous MNCs having their interest or investments in India, directly or indirectly. *A step further was the implementation of General Anti-Avoidance Rules (GAAR) in India. Has the taxpayer rights attended? *The GAAR provisions have been made effective in India from April 1, 2017, and they can be considered as the latest chapter on the mismatch between taxpayer rights and obligations. *Some major concerns with respect to taxpayer rights are left grossly unaddressed. *A major example is the revocation of ‘presumption of innocence’ of the taxpayers. *It is now a burden on these business entities, right from the initiation period to prove that their tax mitigation techniques do not qualify as ‘impermissible avoidance arrangements’. *This goes against the fundamental principle of ‘innocent unless proven guilty’. *As for the GST, while the government has apparently achieved a balanced model of fiscal federalism through a dual GST system, the path ahead is simple neither for the taxpayer nor the tax collector. *For example, the GST Network will process billions of invoices every month, with its concomitant economic and fiscal impacts of technical glitches and other such situations. *These snags will impact traders with genuine transactions, as the processing of their tax collections, input tax credit claims and tax refunds might get affected. Conclusion *What is positive to note though is the constructive approach of the government, aiming to improve tax administration and as a result ensuring better tax compliance. *The recommendations of the Tax Administration Reform Committee, submitted to the Finance Ministry in 2014, tried to reintroduce a fair balance between the rights and obligations of taxpayers. *Several of these recommendations, such as improvement in taxpayers’ service, enhanced use of information and communication technology, exchange of information with other agencies, expansion of tax base, compliance management, etc. have either been accepted or implemented to ensure a better relation between the taxpayer and the tax collector.

Each shell company must be duly investigated, instead of a ‘name and shame’ data dump

Context:The government’s decision to publicize the identities of entities involved in malpractices through shell companies.Why government’s crackdown on shell companies? *Fight against black money. *Create an atmosphere of confidence. *Improving the climate for ease of doing business. Government recent Action on shell companies. *The government will publish the details of individuals associated with shell companies and doing malpractices.Government should be more cautious. *A Hasty decision may fulfill the cause of the move; an Innocent entity may be penalized. Example: the Securities Appellate Tribunal recently gave relief to some entities over trading curbs hastily imposed on them by SEBI.Way forward *Each shell company must be duly investigated. *Both the Union government and the regulatory arms should analyze the loop-holes which allowed so many companies to do malpractices. *They should target the deep-rooted maladies instead of symptoms. *It should make earlier to delist a company

To Eradicate modern slavery

Context There is an urgent need for more aggressive and effective implementations of labor law protections to eliminate modern slavery and forced labour in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).What does the ILO says?*The day International Labor Organization (ILO) released new global estimates of modern slavery, a group of over 40 activists and academics from different parts of the world have released a 25-point signed statement urging India to ensure a more effective implementation of labour law protections to eliminate modern slavery and forced labour in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).What is the impact of slavary? *Dominant international discourses on modern slavery do not adequately reflect the extreme exploitation and precarious nature of employment in India today. *An undue emphasis on sensationalist accounts of modern slavery deny the widespread prevalence of economic exploitation, even now based on social customs, cultural traditions and hereditary obligations, and obfuscate the continuum between extreme and ‘everyday’ forms of such exploitation. *A multi-pronged strategy that responds to the needs of all affected constituencies, including bonded labourers, contract workers, domestic workers, intra- and inter-state as well as international migrant workers, and sex workers is necessary in order to achieve SDG 8.7. What is the objective of SDG 8.7? The SDG 8.7 calls for immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labour, end modern slavery and human trafficking, and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labour, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labour in all its forms. The Way Forward:The most effective and durable way to prevent all forms of extreme exploitation lies in the self-organisation of workers and in their efforts at collective bargaining, especially through trade unions and workers’ collectives. The problem of trafficking can be addressed through a multi-faceted legal and economic strategy that strengthens the implementation of labour protections such as those guaranteed by the Constitution

Strategic partnerships possibility between INDIA and JAPAN

Context The article discuss about the importance of strategic partnership in the context of India-Japan relationship. What is the importance of strategic partnership with Japan for India? *The India-Japan “Special Strategic and Global Partnership” (a designation and status New Delhi accords to no other partner) has reached new heights. *Reasons: The rise of China and questions about America’s commitment in Asia have drawn India and Japan into a deepening security-cum-economic relationship.What are the basic elements of bonding between India and Japan? The India-Japan synergy has following key elements: *Japan is investing heavily in strengthening its critical infrastructure to enhance its economic and potential defence capabilities. *Simultaneously, the two countries have begun working on a joint infrastructure development and connectivity drive traversing the Indian Ocean, from Myanmar to Sri Lanka to Iran and encompassing the Asia-Africa Growth Corridor. *On defence matters, Japan and India have agreed to establish regular consultations in the “2+2” format of their defence and foreign ministries. *Japanese investment in the strategically placed Andaman and Nicobar Islands is likely to help New Delhi establish a major security sentinel in the eastern Indian Ocean.What are strategic partnerships? What is its relevance in today’s world? *We live in a world today driven by “strategic partnerships”. States find themselves in an interdependent system where the traditional power politics doesn’t fit.*For example, every major relationship is characterized by strategic tension such as U.S.-China, Japan-China, India-China is simultaneously one of economic gain. The U.S. and China are each other’s chief trading partners, while China ranks at the top for Japan and India. Besides, India might confront China at Doklam but it also wants Chinese investment. *Strategic partnerships carry certain characteristic features falling short of alliances. Unlike alliances, they do not demand commitments to a partner’s disputes with other countries. *Strategic partnership means that both retain the flexibility to continue political engagement and economic cooperation with their common adversary. Second, they avoid “entrapment”, or being dragged into a partner’s disputes and potentially into conflict, which happened in the First World War. Third, regular high-level political and military interactions facilitate a collaborative approach to strategic policies over a range of economic and military activities. *The aim of major strategic partnerships is to strengthen defences against marginal conflict, convey a determination to stand up to a strategic adversary and, overall, generate a persuasive environment that discourages potential intimidation. *Occasionally, as between India and China, a “strategic partnership” is a way of opening a channel of communication and minimal cooperation intended to stabilise and develop the potential for a détente and conceivably something warmer. Way forward *India’s two main strategic partnerships, with the U.S. and Japan, are dovetailing nicely. *For New Delhi, U.S. will remain its chief backer both to enhance India’s conventional defence capabilities and to draw political support in global political institutions, for example in components of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. *Japan, in the meantime, is becoming its primary collaborator in developing its economic sinews and for building a geostrategic network that offers Indian Ocean states an alternative to dependence on China. *Together, the emerging structure of triangular cooperation should give Beijing time to think.

 India is to work above and beyond the pact to reduce emissions.

Context:*President Donald Trump in June announced that America was withdrawing from the Paris deal, arguing that it gave undue advantage to countries like India and China. *Amid this uncertainty, India reaffirmed its commitment to the Paris climate change agreement. Background *External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj attended UN’s Leadership Summit on Environment Pact. *It was reiterated by the Indian side that India had been at the forefront of the debate on environment and development. *It was willing to “work above and beyond” the pact to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. *It was also mentioned that India and France are working together on the International Solar Alliance. What is Paris Climate Change Agreement? *India, which is the world’s third largest carbon polluter, reached a pact, along with more than 190 nations, in December 2015 with an aim to prevent an increase in the global average temperature and keep it well below 2 degrees Celsius. *The deal, which replaced the 1997 Kyoto Protocol, was ratified last October. *It is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. *As of September 2017, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, 164 of which have ratified it. *What is International Solar Alliance (ISA)? *The International Solar Alliance (ISA) is an alliance of more than 121 countries, most of them being sunshine countries, which come either completely or partly between the Tropic of Cancer and the Tropic of Capricorn. *The alliance’s primary objective is work for efficient exploitation of solar energy to reduce dependence on fossil fuels. *This initiative was first proposed by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi. *The alliance is a treaty-based inter-governmental organization. *Countries that do not fall within the Tropics can join the ISA and enjoy all benefits as other members, except for voting rights. *The launching of such an alliance in Paris also sends a strong signal to the global communities about the sincerity of the developing nations towards their concern about climate change.

A ‘Boat Lab’ to study Brahmaputra

Why in the News?The Department of Biotechnology will commission a two-tiered barge that will roughly be the size of two large conference rooms and host scientists and a full-fledged lab that will allow those on board to collect samples from various stretches of the river, perform tests on water quality and biodiversity of the wider ecosystem.What is Brahmaputra Biodiversity Biology Boat (B4)? *The proposed vessel, now only known as the Brahmaputra Biodiversity Biology Boat (B4), will be linked to smaller boats and research labs. *The first experiments will likely begin this December and will have the boat a re-purposed one trawl Pasighat, Dibrigarh, Neemati, Tejpur and Guwahati in Assam and managed by the Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati. *The “B4” will also have a teaching laboratory for school and college children. *There would also be ‘mobile labs’ that would run along the tributaries of the Brahmaputra to feed in data to the B4. *A boat of this nature would be one of its kind in the world though there were a few precedents in China and mobile laboratories that studied the Amazon river.

India to develop quantum computing Lab

Why in the News?The Department of Science and Technology (DST) is planning to fund a project to develop quantum computers. What is Quantum Computer? *A quantum computer employs the principles of quantum mechanics to store information in ‘qubits’ instead of the typical ‘bits’ of 1 and 0. *Qubits work faster because of the way such circuits are designed, and their assurance is that they can do intensive number-crunching tasks much more efficiently than the fastest comparable computers. *The Physics departments at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore, and the Harish Chandra Research Institute, Allahabad, have only forayed into the theoretical aspects of quantum computing. *Experts from across the country are estimated to gather this month in Allahabad for a workshop to develop such a computer, and to discuss the costs and the time it would take to build one. *The project was part of a forthcoming mission in the DST to fund research areas that would create the next generation of technology jobs in India.

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