India: It’s Own Worst Enemey

India: It’s Own Worst Enemey
Mar 13, 2013

With one of the globe’s largest economies, India is leading the way in a variety of industries. From software to biotech to textiles, India boasts an array of successful, growing businesses that provide a model for other developing nations. Unfortunately, the only thing standing in India’s path as a leader in innovation is India itself. When it comes to intellectual property (IP) protection, India comes in last.

Today, the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee is holding a hearing to discuss the growing trade relationship between the United States and India and the dramatic economic growth that India has experienced over the last few decades. While India’s economic ascent has been nothing short of miraculous, it is imperative that India take into account the importance of ensuring adequate IP rights as they consider expanding their trade and investment relationships globally.

Much of India’s success has been a product of increased domestic and foreign investment. However, due to inadequate protections for IP, many businesses investing capital in India face serious challenges that undermine the companies’ ability to compete and succeed in this vital market. While insufficient enactment of enforcement of IP rights dissuades foreign investment, the instability of India’s IP system also limits growth and opportunities for India’s domestic creative and innovative industries.

Last year, the U.S. Chamber’s Global Intellectual Property Center (GIPC) released an International IP Index (GIPC Index), Measuring Momentum. The Index set out to create an IP roadmap for key countries around the world to assess their IP systems in order to accelerate economic growth, create jobs, and improve foreign investment.

Out of the 11 countries surveyed, where did India fall? India came in last.

There have been a few positive developments in the IP space, like the release of the Draft National IPR Strategy and expansion of ex officioauthority. But for every step forward, it seems there are two steps back, and there have been repeated erosions of the IP climate. This week marks the one year anniversary of the issuance of India’s first ever compulsory license, in part, because the product was imported and not manufactured locally. With this decision, the Indian government delivered a significant blow to the pharmaceutical industry, whose success depends largely on the protection of patents for the medicines that they invest significant time, research, and resources to create. Additionally, India recently revoked a patent for a medicine that holds a valid patent in over 90 other countries. Further, while the passage of the Copyright Bill was, in theory, a positive step, in practice it largely ignored industry’s call to increase IP protection and does not achieve the intended purpose on implementing the WIPO copyright treaty.

With such significant economic growth in the past two decades, it is easy to look at the foreign investment in India and assume that the situation is fine. However, the reality is that there is significant untapped potential if the government passes adequate laws to counter the rampant piracy, both physical and via the Internet.

India has proven to be an open and innovative economy. Stronger protection of IP throughout India will benefit India’s citizens with greater choices and creative industries with an array of opportunities. Imagine the economic growth that could occur and the new innovative technologies that could be discovered if India had sufficient IP protections in place.

We hope today’s hearing will highlight the challenges that industries across the board face when dealing with the IP regime in India, and we look forward to addressing these challenges with both the U.S. Government and the Indian Government.

Originally published March 2013. Reprinted by permission, freeenterprise.com, April 2013. Copyright© 2013, U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

My response to the blog – The saga of “Lumpen Visionaries” of Kerala

Firstly, let me apologize to my readers for not blogging for a while. I’ve been really busy with decidequick. It’s been a real rush and an awesome journey. Thank you all for your support and for believing in us. We’ve hit our milestones and hope to hit many more in weeks to follow.

Now onto the reason for this post. I recently came across a blogpost titled The Saga of “Lumpen Visionaries” of Kerala. I respect the author for his candid writing and for voicing his opinions.

But, and this is a big but; there are a lot of things that I do not agree with and may not have been brought to light in the blog. Let me first start off with what I agree with on the blogpost and kudos to the author for bringing it up :

1. Yes, there are people in the community who are promoting Entrepreneurship and there is buzz about it.

2. Yes, over 99% of the startups fail

3. Yes, there are many who don’t have experience in tech, wanting to create a tech startup

4. Yes, experience does matter in success

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But here’s what the blog fails to throw light upon –

1. An entrepreneur doesn’t need to understand technology, but should be agile enough to find solutions to problems fast. The entrepreneur can hire the right people who know the technology. Technology is simply the business enabler, not the business !

2. The times are changing or have changed. The new generation (like it or not) are influenced by global events, companies and icons as well. Not to mention there are enough and more local mentors and icons to look upto. Today’s youth believe that there is a purpose of being and that it’s to create value. The commonly used phrase “Job Security” is irrelevant today and with two waves of financial crisis, the cost of IT infrastructure reducing, the cost of starting up reduced, the risks involved have also reduced.

3. “Entrepreneurship is just another way of making a living as Engineeing .. so, Entrepreneurs are not people from the other world… People having back-papers,poor academic backgrounds,social “misfits” are trying to fit into the mainstream by squeaking through the entrepreneurship channel .” – from a follow up chat on Facebook regarding the blog.  Uh, yes entrepreneurship is another way of making a living, but a really cool way ! But yes, the author is right in saying that many who lack in academic backgrounds etc are trying to squeak into the entrepreneurship channel. This is a separate discussion altogether. Entrepreneurship can never be an escape from anything. One should also ask why they weren’t doing great in their respective courses, where does their real passion lie. No one can become an successful entrepreneur without a real passion. The passion cannot be imparted by someone else, but has to be ingrained. I’ve met with many student entrepreneurs and have seen a common trait – they all have a vision, a passion to do something.

Note that I said – a passion to do something. Most of them are passionate about solving a problem with a solution that their startup would develop. But there are others who are focused on technology or their idea that they lose track of the problem or pain point of the market that they are trying to solve. This clarity of thought or vision needs to be there in an entrepreneur.

4. No one should force anyone to take up Entrepreneurship. If no one has told this to budding entrepreneurs, here goes –

a. Entrepreneurship is a real painful job. It requires serious grit and determination

b. There will be many lows, frustrations, pressure from peers and family

c. You may make losses, go without any pay for months while you pay your employees

d. Entrepreneurs make huge sacrifices in terms of quality of life, time, vacations, parties

e. Entrepreneurs hear many NOs and NEGATIVE feedback before ever hearing any success

But if you make it through after all this and identify what works and repeat those steps to progressive milestones you have success!

Finally, if anyone asks “Have not you started it yet ?”, I think its a question you should ignore or point them to this blog because it would answer why entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone.