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November 2018

Intellectual Property Rights in India

[op-ed snap] Reinterpreting public interest broadcasting


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Government policies & interventions for development in various sectors & issues arising out of their design & implementation

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Sports Broadcasting Signals Act, 2007

Mains level: Governance of TV broadcasts in India and how private sector participation is being culled in the name of public interest


Public policy discourse in India

  1. Populist politics tends to lead to short-term policy goals in most democracies
  2. This is why many economic policies aim at instant consumer gratification in India
  3. Part of the job of a responsible bureaucracy is to espouse more balanced public interest objectives
  4. This includes acknowledging the fact that the long-term welfare of market participants such as producers and intermediaries also affects consumers

failure in performing this duty

  1. Ministries like the ministry of information and broadcasting (MIB) often fail to perform this balancing act for the markets they govern
  2. The MIB functions as a licensor in a broadcasting market where there are hundreds of private operators spanning print, television and radio
  3. The need for economic liberalization three decades ago had already confirmed that licences are inimical to market growth
  4. Today, licencing is reminiscent of a bygone era of acute market scarcities
  5. The MIB shows a persistent bias toward licencing-inspired interventions to stay relevant

Recent move to regulate broadcasting

  1. MIB’s latest rulemaking initiative may permanently distort the market for sports broadcasting in India
  2. The MIB plans to introduce a legislative amendment to force content owners to share live sports signals deemed to be of “National Importance” with the public broadcaster, Prasar Bharati, for re-transmission over private TV distribution networks
  3. It would do so through the relevant Doordarshan channels
  4. A public consultation document has been floated by the MIB in mid-October to this effect

Current process for transmitting sports broadcast

  1. TV broadcasts are carried to over 150 million homes by private cable and satellite distribution networks
  2. Another 30 million homes access public-service broadcasts through direct to home and terrestrial networks owned by Prasar Bharati
  3. The Sports Broadcasting Signals Act, 2007 was promulgated to make sports-broadcasts of “national importance” available to low-income homes
  4. Simultaneously, all distributors are mandated to carry Doordarshan channels by an older law governing private networks
  5. Until recently, Prasar Bharati chose to employ a combined interpretation of both laws to retransmit sports broadcasts acquired under the Act through public and private networks

Bypassing SC judgment

  1. In August 2017, the Supreme Court clarified the obligation of content owners as being limited to sharing of sports signals for re-transmission only over Prasar Bharati’s networks
  2. The MIB now seeks to bypass this judicial interpretation, in order “to ensure access to the largest number of viewers” by amending the SBS Act
  3. This motive is suspect because free sports programming of national interest is already made available on the airwaves under the Act
  4. Any lack of consumption of free programming is simply a function of consumer choice in favour of private networks

Loss of revenue for various stakeholders

  1. It is safe to assume that households which can pay for private networks can easily put an additional dish or antenna to access free sports programming
  2. Conversely, if live signal is carried simultaneously on both paid and free TV, advertisers would naturally pay less for their time slots on private networks, eroding the margins of businesses which own the underlying content
  3. Prasar Bharati would see a windfall without taking any production risk because live sporting events would draw greater advertising revenues than its usual repertoire of content
  4. Reducing the scope for monetising privately-held intellectual property (IP) is akin to throttling the lifeline of the sports economy in India

Narrow mindset

  1. The creation of market value spurs predatory impulses within corresponding line ministries
  2. The MIB is interpreting public interest narrowly and in self-interest—by forcibly acquiring private IP for profit
  3. Re-transmitting the IP owned by others will perpetuate culture of handouts rather than stimulate any impetus towards creating quality public-service content

Way forward

  1. Prasar Bharati barely generates enough revenue to cover its own programming costs—and is dependent on heavy grants from the MIB
  2. Prasar Bharati may soon become completely unable to overcome its structural deficits, like many other publicly-owned body corporates
  3. This would leave Indian consumers worse-off in the long run, even as the proposed legislative amendment nips the growth of the nascent sports economy in the bud

Polio Eradication And Endgame Strategy

[op-ed snap] Protecting against polio


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Poliovirus and its immunisation

Mains level: Need of using IPV instead of OPV to eradicate Polio in India


Eliminating Polio

  1. With wild poliovirus strains reduced by 99.9% since 1988, the world is inching towards eradicating polio
  2. But unfortunately, more children today are affected by the live, weakened virus contained in the oral polio vaccine (OPV) that is meant to protect them.
  3. The weakened virus in the vaccine can circulate in the environment, occasionally turn neurovirulent and cause vaccine-derived poliovirus (VDPV) in unprotected children

Less awareness about VAPP

  1. While circulating VDPV strains are tracked, and outbreaks and cases are recorded and shared, little is known about vaccine-associated paralytic poliomyelitis (VAPP) cases, particularly in India
  2. VAPP occurs when the virus turns virulent within the body of a recently vaccinated child and causes polio
  3. With high-income countries switching to the inactivated polio vaccine (IPV) that uses the dead virus to immunise children, the VAPP burden is concentrated in low-income countries which continue to use the OPV
  4. In spite of the World Health Organisation asking all countries using the OPV to include a “continuous and effective system of surveillance” to monitor the frequency of VAPP in 1982, India did not comply
  5. Data on VAPP became available only years after active polio surveillance was initiated in 1997
  6. Even after 1997, India did not count VAPP cases

Use of OPV main culprit

  1. The decision to use only the OPV was faulty
  2. Vaccination (using OPV) has become the main source of polio paralysis in the world
  3. Despite knowing that there is a higher burden of polio caused by oral vaccines, India continued to use the OPV
  4. OPV fared poorly on two important counts: safety and efficacy
  5. The primary objective of polio vaccination is to prevent the disease, which the OPV failed to fully achieve
  6. The OPV was used for eradicating purposes but without fully protecting the children
  7. Parents were obliged to accept the OPV and face the consequences of VAPP as well as VDVP

Resoning behind the use of OPV

  1. India’s goal was to eradicate polio, and the OPV was crucial for that
  2. The IPV produces humoral immunity (involving antibodies in body fluids) so the immunised child does not get paralysis, but it can’t stop the circulation of wild polioviruses
  3. For instance, no polio cases were seen in Israel but wild polioviruses were detected in the environment
  4. The viruses will continue to circulate in the community
  5. It is easier to administer the OPV than the IPV and the cost per dose of OPV is also lower than that of the IPV
  6. Another reason given for not switching over to the IPV was that global production was too low to meet India’s demand. India is the largest cohort. It needs 48 million doses per year to immunise all children

Need for IPV

  1. The IPV is essential for post-wild-type poliovirus eradication, to get rid of VDPV and VAPP
  2. A single dose of the IPV given before the OPV prevents VAPP cases
  3. A single dose of the IPV primes the immune system and the antibodies against the polio virus, seen in more than 90% of immunised infants
  4. The globally synchronised switch from trivalent to bivalent OPV in mid-2016 was accompanied by administering a single dose of the IPV prior to administering the OPV

Way forward

  1. The justification that VAPP cases can be ignored as they are “sporadic and pose little or no threat to others” is ethically flawed
  2. The stand that VAPP cases are epidemiologically irrelevant is ethically problematic


Foreign Policy Watch: India-Pakistan

[op-ed snap] Embers of hope: on India-Pakistan relations


Mains Paper 2: IR | India & its neighborhood- relations

From the UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Kartarpur Sahib (Location, importance)

Mains level: How sports and cultural connect can be used to rebuild India Pakistan ties


Indo Pak ties

  1. With tension permeating the India-Pakistan military and diplomatic relationship for the larger part of seven decades, people-to-people and economic links have borne the brunt of this mutual aggression
  2. In September, bilateral tensions further soured after the killing of a Border Security Force soldier and the cancellation of a meeting between the two Foreign Ministers

Rays of hope

Two other developments have rekindled hopes of creative collaborations

  • Pakistan’s willingness to open the Kartarpur corridor
  1. This would connect Dera Baba Nanak in India with a historic Sikh shrine, the Darbar Sahib, Narowal, in the town of Kartarpur, Pakistan
  2. Darbar Sahib is where Guru Nanak Dev, the first Guru of the Sikhs, spent the last few years of his life
  3. Various ministers of Pakistan’s newly formed government have given assurance about the opening of the corridor as well as willingness to provide visa-free access to the Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara
  4. This has been a long-standing demand of the Sikh community
  5. This issue is relevant not merely to the Sikh community but to all those who believe in Guru Nanak’s message of peace and compassion
  • India-Pakistan trade
  1. The U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan spoke of Pakistan’s willingness to allow India-Afghanistan trade via Pakistan
  2. Bilateral trade with Afghanistan through Pakistan matters strategically to New Delhi and Kabul
  3. With this move, Pakistan could change the narrative in South Asia

Learning from China

  1. The India-Pakistan relationship could use the India-China relationship as a template
  2. Despite tensions such as the Doklam standoff, bilateral trade rose in 2017-18
  3. People-to-people linkages (for example, in terms of pilgrimages to Kailash Mansarovar through Nathu La) have not been affected

Way forward

  1. It is unfortunate that steps such as opening up the Kartarpur corridor, which can help in building better ties, get relegated to the background once political tensions rise
  2. Such steps could act as the game changer in the process of bringing Indo Pak ties back on track

Capital Markets: Challenges and Developments

RBI relaxes ECB norms for infra companies


Mains Paper 3: Economy | Effects of liberalization on the economy

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: ECBs, Hedging

Mains level: Factors affecting India’s BoP


  • The RBI has liberalized the norms governing foreign borrowings for infrastructure creation in consultation with the Government.

External Commercial Borrowings

  1. Lack of domestic capital and deficit in the current account compels any government to go after foreign capital.
  2. ECBs are loans in India made by non-resident lenders in foreign currency to Indian borrowers.
  3. They are used widely in India to facilitate access to foreign money by Indian corporations and PSUs.
  4. Most of these loans are provided by foreign commercial banks and other institutions. It is a loan availed of from non-resident lenders with a minimum average maturity of 3 years.
  5. The significance of ECBs their size in India’s balance of payment account. In the post reform period, ECBs have emerged a major form of foreign capital like FDI and FII.
  6. ECBs includes commercial bank loans, buyers’ credit, suppliers’ credit, securitized instruments such as Floating Rate Notes and Fixed Rate Bonds etc., credit from official export credit agencies and commercial borrowings from Multilateral Financial Institutions.

Advantages of ECBs 

  • ECBs provide opportunity to borrow large volume of funds
  • The funds are available for relatively long term
  • Interest rate are also lower compared to domestic funds
  • ECBs are in the form of foreign currencies. Hence, they enable the corporate to have foreign currency to meet the import of machineries etc.
  • Corporate can raise ECBs from internationally recognised sources such as banks, export credit agencies, international capital markets etc.

What’s new in the ECB norms?

  1. The minimum average maturity requirement for ECBs (external commercial borrowings) in the infrastructure space raised by eligible borrowers has been reduced to three years from earlier five years.
  2. Additionally, the average maturity requirement for mandatory hedging (an investment to reduce the risk of adverse price movements in an asset) has been reduced to five years from earlier ten years.

Raising Medium and Long term funds

  1. The move comes amid concerns surrounding the availability of funds following a liquidity squeeze and the difficulties being faced by non-bank lenders.
  2. This is especially for those facing asset liability issues due to heavy reliance on short term funding for long term assets.
  3. This, along with defaults by infra lender IL&FS, has hurt the credit markets.
  4. The relaxations in the ECB norms follow other moves by the RBI, including last week’s permission to banks to use credit enhancement to help NBFCs raise medium to long term funds.

UN postal agency issues special Diwali stamp


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: UN Postal Agency

Mains level: Not Much


  • The United Nations Postal Administration issued a special event sheet on October 19 to commemorate the festival of Diwali.

About the Stamp

  1. The sheet in the denomination of USD 1.15 contains ten stamps and tabs featuring festive lights and the symbolic lamps known as diyas.
  2. The background of the sheet features the United Nations Headquarters building illuminated with the message of “Happy Diwali” to celebrate the spirit of the festival.

United Nations Postal Administration (UNPA)

  1. The UNPA is the postal agency of the United Nations.
  2. It issues postage stamps and postal stationery, denominated in United States dollars for the United Nations offices in New York, in Swiss francs for the offices in Geneva and in euros (formerly schillings) for the offices in Vienna.
  3. Postage rates charged are identical to those of the host nation.
  4. Only UN stamps in the appropriate currency may be used at a given United Nations office.
  5. Most UN agencies use meters, and the stamps are most often used by tourists and collectors.
  6. Since the stamps may not be used outside the UN offices, they may be purchased in bulk on the secondary market as discount postage at well below face value.

Foreign Policy Watch: India-United States

US exempts India from certain sanctions for development of Chabahar port in Iran


Mains Paper 2: IR | Bilateral, regional & global groupings & agreements involving India &/or affecting India’s interests

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: South Asian Strategy

Mains level: Impact of US-Iran strain on India’s developmental initiatives in Afghanistan


  • The United States has exempted India from the imposition of certain sanctions for the development of the strategically-located Chabahar port in Iran.

Details of the Exemption

  1. After extensive consideration, US has provided for an exception from imposition of certain sanctions under the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012,.
  2. It included development of Chabahar port, construction of an associated railway and for shipment of non-sanctionable goods through the port for Afghanistan’s use, as well as imports of Iranian petroleum products.
  3. Eight countries namely India, China, Italy, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Turkey were temporarily allowed to continue buying Iranian oil.
  4. They have shown a “significant reduction” in oil purchase from the Persian Gulf country.


  1. The decision signifies India’s role in development of the port on the Gulf of Oman, which is of immense strategic importance for the development of war-torn Afghanistan.
  2. This exception relates to reconstruction assistance and economic development for Afghanistan.
  3. These activities are vital for the ongoing support of Afghanistan’s growth and humanitarian relief.

Trump’s South Asia Strategy

  1. US decision to give India an exemption from the imposition of certain sanctions for the development of the port is driven by the South Asian strategy, which was announced by Trump in August.
  2. It states that India has a major role in bringing peace and development in Afghanistan.
  3. The South Asia strategy underscores our ongoing support of Afghanistan’s economic growth and development as well as its close partnership with India.

Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

BBC launches fake news fight-back with global campaign


Mains Paper 3: Internal Security | Role of media & social networking sites in internal security challenges

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Beyond Fake News Project

Mains level: Menace of fake news in India and measures to curb it


Beyond Fake News Project

  1. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has devised a new campaign that is aimed at fighting back against disinformation and fake news.
  2. It lays a major focus on global media literacy, including workshops and debates in countries like India.
  3. In 2018 BBC has pledged that the World Service Group would move beyond just talking about the global ‘fake news’ threat, and take concrete steps to address it.
  4. The most highlighted initiatives under the Project includes:
  • In-depth research of Funding
  • Sharing online behaviors,
  • Rolling out media literacy workshops globally
  • BBC Reality Check for upcoming elections

Initiatives for India

  1. The project will include panel debates in India and Kenya, hackathons exploring tech solutions.
  2. It will include a special season of programming across the BBC’s networks in India, Africa, Asia Pacific, Europe, the US and Central America.
  3. The Beyond Fake News media literacy programme has already begun delivering workshops in India and Kenya, drawing on work to tackle disinformation in the UK,
  4. Digital literacy workshops have also been delivered to schools across these countries.

Research on Disinformation

  1. The BBC has also conducted wide-ranging research into how and why disinformation is shared after users gave its researchers unprecedented access to their encrypted messaging apps in India, Kenya, and Nigeria.
  2. The complete findings of the research will be made public next week to coincide with the launch of the Beyond Fake News Season.
  3. The season will include ‘Fake Me’, a documentary revealing how far young people will go in pursuit of social media perfection.
  4. There will also be reports on how Facebook is being exploited in the Philippines to spread false information.

[pib] Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities, 2018


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

Prelims level: Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities

Mains level: Initiatives for disabled persons


Global IT Challenge for Youth with Disabilities, 2018

  1. The event is being organised by the Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (DEPwD) under Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.
  2. India is hosting the event in collaboration with Government of Korea and Rehabilitation International (RI).
  3. The Global IT Challenge for disability is a capacity building project that helps youth with disabilities to overcome their limitations and challenges for a better future through access to ICT.
  4. It will alleviate the digital divide and expand participation of youth with disabilities in the society.
  5. It propagates implementation of United Nations Convention on Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD) – Article 21 relates to access to information.
  6. The competition will be held on the following aspects:-
    • E-tool (competition on application of MS-Excel, MS-Word etc) – individual event.
    • E-life map challenge (ability to respond to specific situation) – individual event
    • E-creative (ability to create animated story or game) – group event (country wise)
    • E-content (ability to make video) – group event (country wise)


  1. About 100 youth with disabilities in the age group of 13-21 years in the category of visual disability, hearing disability, locomotors disability and developmental disorder from 18 will participate.
  2. These youths with disabilities have been selected on the basis of National IT Challenge conducted through National Institute of Technology, Kurukshetra in June, 2018.

ICT for the Divyangjans

  1. There are about 1 billion i.e. about 15% of the world population persons with disabilities.
  2. Majority of this population live in developing countries with low ICT development indexes.
  3. Because of this information divide, persons with disabilities are being excluded from society suffering inequality and poverty.
  4. The Global IT Challenge was initially designed to enhance the information utilisation skill of youths with disabilities and to encourage their social participation.
  5. The event started in the year 1992 in Korea. Subsequently it expanded to the neighbouring countries throughout the Asia-Pacific region and since 2011 it has become a global event.