A patent, in itself, is worthless unless backed by a strong will to enforce it (“An idea that’s a patent misfit”, Mint, 23 September). The main reason that commercialization of patents in India remains weak is because the enforcement mechanism—our civil court system—takes years to decide on patent suits; the damages awarded may not provide an attractive return profile for the patent holder to litigate. By transferring ownership of patents to academic institutions, hopefully, the Bill will encourage the creation of patent pools. The owners of such pools will then have the scale and royalty stream to go after those who infringe patents. This might then encourage commercially relevant research, setting up a virtuous cycle. So the Bill is not such a patent misfit after all!
— Shyam Sunder
The concern of the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority (Irda), India’s insurance sector regulator, that insurers should watch their costs and the emphasis on better disclosure are positive indications (“Irda preparing norms for valuations, disclosures”, Mint, 19 September). This is especially positive when insurance companies are planning to tap the initial public offering (IPO) market and the government is thinking of further liberalizing the industry.
It has been almost a decade since the insurance industry was opened up. As early as 1967, the government appointed a committee (popularly known as the Morarka committee), with actuaries and a regulator’s representative on it, to suggest measures for controlling the expenses of Life Insurance Corp. of India (LIC). Now that new insurers are likely to come to the market—and, in keeping with the current trend, with a hefty premium on their shares—it may be necessary to go beyond fixing better disclosure norms.
It will be necessary, therefore, for the government to set up a similar committee to go into the functioning of insurers—including the private ones (who are coming to the IPO market)—which will throw light not only on their financial soundness, but also on the expertise they have obtained from their foreign partners, their reach and operations. The market climate also would have improved by the time the report of such a committee is available. Such a report, along with the regulators’ well-thought-out disclosure norms, will be useful for investors and the public and, more importantly, will allow Parliament to reach an early decision on further liberalizing the insurance industry.
— S. Subramanyan
US President Barack Obama’s first address to the United Nations (UN) General Assembly was a much-awaited event, since he was expected to chart out a different approach to global affairs than his disgraced predecessor. Be it his address on race relations during his presidential campaign, his victory speech on 4 November, his inaugural address or his speech on nuclear disarmament in Prague, all have been touted as heralding a new age for the US and the world.
However, a close examination of the content of these speeches shows a plan that remains quite similar, in many respects, to that of his predecessor. Obama’s views on the Israeli-Palestinian issue, where the US would like to see “two states living side by side”, is taken verbatim from any of George Bush’s talking points over the past eight years. Where Obama stands out, however, is on his approach on climate change.
For India, the UN speech was not music to the ears. Obama’s tough line on nuclear proliferation treaties and on climate change indicate a relationship that will see its fair share of ups and downs. While India is being feted as a major ally in the Obama administration, Obama will not bow to Indian pressure on issues such as climate change and nuclear non-proliferation, given the internal pressures he faces within the US Democratic Party.
— Karan Thakur