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Showing posts from October 4, 2014

Govt. denies bowing to U.S. pressure on IP regime

Obama-Modi statement reiterates need for bilateral mechanism: Nirmala Sitharaman The Modi Government on Friday denied that the reference to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) in the joint statement from U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this week, was an outcome of the U.S. “arm-twisting”. The U.S. consent to discussion of IPR issues through the bilateral mechanism is a re-affirmation of India’s stand that issues need bilateral discussion and not unilateral action, a Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP) clarification said. The clarification further said the bilateral mechanism agreed to for discussing IPR disputes — Trade Policy Forum (TPF) — was put in place by the UPA Government in March 2010 through a US-India statement, was signed by the then Commerce Minister and his U.S. counterpart. “We have not submitted to the U.S. or yielded ground…. We have reiterated that the U.S. should not act unilaterally,” Industry Minister Nirmala Si…

The right to medicines in a world of stock-outs

Access to essential medicines in the public health system cannot be a service that the state voluntarily undertakes; it must be considered an undeniable right of every Indian India is widely recognised as the pharmacy of the developing world thanks to its generic drugs manufacturing sector. Yet, ironically, it often fails to provide necessary drugs to its own population. Several States across India have been reporting that essential HIV drugs, especially nevirapine, have gone out of stock. This is deplorable considering we supply affordable HIV drugs globally and save millions of lives but have somehow managed a stock-out at home. Drug shortages are common in India and rarely make news. A stock-out of essential HIV drugs, however, is nothing short of a crisis; it is one that has parallels in previous stock-outs and raises many questions. What causes drug stock-outs? Who is responsible and accountable for them? Where do the poor go when they need these drugs? Finally, what are the imp…

Dismantle the walls of secrecy

Recent orders of the Madras High Court have redefined the RTI Act — reducing its scope, expanding its restrictions and creating new grounds for denial of information The Madras High Court recently took a significant step to rectify its own order in a case dated September 17 by restoring Section 6(2) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, to say: “An applicant making a request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information or any other personal details except those that may be necessary for contacting him.” However, in spite of the court deleting two paragraphs from its earlier judgment in The Public Information Officer, the Registrar (Administration), High Court Madras v. The Central Information Commissioner & B. Bharathi case, contradictions remain to the spirit of the RTI Act as “law.” The RTI Act allows for citizens’ access to information without anyone asking for it. Section 4 of the Act states that information ought to be provid…

The distance to disarmament

The 1966 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty remains on date the only agreement to prevent the spread of these weapons outside the original five nuclear weapons states. The commemoration of the first International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons on September 26 was a moment for introspection. The Cold War is behind us and it is nearly 70 years since the catastrophe in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet, why are nuclear arms the most contentious of all Weapons of Mass Destruction, and nuclear disarmament as distant as ever? The answers are not far to seek. The 1966 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty remains on date the only agreement to prevent the spread of these weapons outside the original five nuclear weapons states. But then, there are more countries today that flaunt these terrible weapons as a symbol of military might and many more that are perhaps perilously close to their acquisition. This bleak history is a commentary on the discrimination inherent in the NPT. The treat…

The message behind the broom

Prime Minister Narendra Modi wanted to link his campaign to the toilet-cleaning ritual in Gandhi’s ashrams, to emphasise that the seemingly menial work was of great import in nation-building. In launching the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, or Clean India Mission, on Gandhi Jayanthi day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi sought to highlight the importance his administration attached to both sanitation and Mahatma Gandhi. Mr. Modi was evidently carrying forward the message in his Independence Day address on the need for more toilets in schools, and for India’s villages and towns to be free of dirt. But the high-profile launch of the mission on October 2 had its own meaning. Mr. Modi wanted to link his campaign to the toilet-cleaning ritual in Gandhi’s ashrams, to emphasise that the seemingly demeaning, menial work was of great import in nation-building. The noise surrounding the launch of the mission was intended to draw in all Indians to the cleanliness drive: everyone was expected to devote two h…

Gandhi, morality and political legitimacy

While true political legitimacy has to be premised on popular will, on the desire for self-determination, and on the capacities and capabilities of a government, it resides in a more subtle quality that has to do with the inherent morality of any structure of power that purports to rule a people in their name and for their own good Every October 2, for the past 66 years, Indians have reflected on the legacy of Mohandas Gandhi, born on this day in 1869, and killed on January 30 in 1948. This moment of reflection has sometimes gone by in a haze of indifference, at other times sparked deep criticisms of the flaws and contradictions in Gandhi’s thought, and on yet other occasions has been observed as a day of ahimsa, non-violence. This year after the general election and the victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Gandhi Jayanthi feels like a poignant crossroads. Young Indians seem not to have any particular attachment to Gandhian ideals like ahimsa, swaraj and satyagraha. Is Gandhi …