The Importance of Legal Infrastructure

While reading books like The Post American World, and The Elephant and the Dragon, I’ve found myself pondering the serious and easily apparent problems like clean water supplies, extreme poverty, and out-of-control population growth. However, there are business concerns that plague India too, some of which threaten the pace of India’s successful entry into a 1st world power. Sonal Zhaveri argues in India’s biggest problem – loss and under-utilization of Intellectual Property Rights ( Click Here ) that the under-utilization of Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) of Indian born products is preventing India from being accepted as a top tier research and development hub. This is especially true in the pharmaceutical and bio-technology sectors, two sectors that are of particular prominence in today’s world. Not only does India risk missing out on the obvious immediate financial benefits of developing the next great pharmacological wonder-drug or bio-tech breakthrough, but more importantly they fail to receive the recognition and status that comes with proving themselves capable of fostering the great scientific minds and resources needed for these breakthroughs. In his article Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Issues in Horticulture: An Indian Scenario with Particular Reference to Medicinal Plants ( Click Here ), H. Singh points out that this is currently a problem in the field of Medicinal plants.

However, Singh approaches it from a different perspective, arguing that the proliferation of legal protections slows the pace of innovation. This is evidenced in how developing countries like India, struggle to adhere to the TRIPs Agreement, which obliges all members to provide patents in all fields of technology and also to provide IPRs for new plant varieties. While an important new discovery is made, it may not be shared with the community in a way that allows for valuable collaborative projects. India, as well as the rest of the business world, must find a way to balance the legal rights of inventors, investors, and researchers, while preserving the integrity of the mission: innovation. In order for India to become a true 1st world country, they must not overlook the importance of establishing the legal infrastructure required to ensure that they take full advantage of each and every opportunity that they create for themselves.

How can India do this without opening themselves up to a very real possibility of being exploited by more advanced countries? Can/should they lead this charge, considering how much is at stake for Indian innovators? Should this take priority over, say improving the physical infrastructure of roads, access to drinking water, and reliable airports?

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