National IPR Policy: Minorities Missing

The first draft of National IPR (Intellectual Property Rights) policy was disclosed on December 19, 2014 by the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP). The draft of the policy assures of a new era that will create new IPR assets in India while linking the policy with other government initiatives like “Make in India” and “Digital India”. The work of National IPR draft is to be appreciated on several counts but it has ignored a common reality by ignoring minorities in draft policy. The mission of the policy clearly states: “Enhance socio-cultural development”, but none of the objectives among the seven mentioned in the draft addresses this mission statement. Objective five, which focuses on commercialisation of IP clearly mentions: “In case of IP generated by informal or economically disadvantaged sectors, importance of commercialisation cannot be over emphasised”.

From all these statements, the point to be argued is whether minorities (especially Muslims) are an important component for socio-cultural development or not. Even for achieving economic growth they are an integral part of the economy, and specifically so for the proposed IPR regime. It is clear that the minorities have a huge population of artisans, craftsmen, and small entrepreneurs who are supposed to be the target population of the National IPR policy. Still the draft does not mention them.

Thus, at an academic level the mission and objectives of the National IPR policy are not in line and they do not represent a coherent IPR policy. Apart from academic viewpoint, as per the socio-cultural setup of India and the economic subjugation of minorities, there is a clear need to motivate and promote entrepreneurs from minorities for taking benefit of IPR policy and contribute to accelerated growth of the nation. But the first draft disappoints on that count. The underlying reasons for this oversight is that the people behind the IPR may not appreciate the view that minorities need special assistance though contrary to this they accept that economically weaker sections must be provided with assistance.

Minorities, thus, should have been included under the first draft of National IPR policy. IPR is a concept that may not affect the minorities in the short run but will surely affect them in the long term. Their innovations would be hijacked by big business houses and the mission of the first draft would automatically fail. The committee of the National IPR policy has invited suggestions from all stakeholders.

Mohd Nayyer Rahman

Dept of Commerce, Aligarh Muslim University

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-31 March 2015 on page no. 11

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