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April 7, 2019 (New Delhi)
To shield patents, firms seek information on generic drug launches
In what is being seen as an attempt to delay launch of low priced generic medicines, multinational drug makers have asked the government to create a registry providing information about all drug applications pending manufacturing and marketing approval.
The proposal, if accepted by the government, will help ‘big pharma’ pre-emptively challenge generic drug makers in court for allegedly infringing upon their patents and in turn blocking or delaying the entry of the low cost version of the drug in the market. The health ministry has vehemently opposed the proposal on grounds that it will not only be “unfair to local drug manufacturers to disclose their product strategy” but also has “the potential to substantially increase healthcare costs for the public” as launch of generic products will get delayed through litigation, a senior official said. He added, such information about product applications filed for approval are not disclosed anywhere in the world.
However, the proposal is still pending with the department of pharmaceuticals (DoP) — another wing of the government that looks into pharmaceutical industry under the ministry of chemicals and fertilisers.
“It is pertinent to point out here that inadequate information in respect of pending applications for such market authorisations/manufacturing licenses and grants on the CDSCO website poses a significant challenge for the innovators in tracking potential infringers and obtaining timely reliefs from the appropriate court of law,” the Organisation of Pharmaceutical Producers of India (OPPI) said in its proposal.
OPPI — which represents multinational pharmaceutical companies and advocates issues related to research and protection of intellectual property rights — recently tabled the proposal in an industry consultation meeting with the drug regulator. “OPPI is seeking to outsource its task of finding potential patent infringers to the drug regulator. The regulator’s mandate is to work towards safe medicines and not to be a tool in the hands of innovator pharma for sake of ‘pre-emptive patent litigation’,” says Malini Aisola of All India Drugs Action Network, a public health group advocating access to medicines.
April 5,2019 (New Delhi)
Indian Navy signs MoU with Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)
The Indian Navy and Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) today inked a MoU to undertake joint research and development of advanced technologies for the Indian Navy. This will be a collaborative arrangement between labs of CSIR, the Indian Navy and Indian industry.
The Memorandum of Understanding was signed by Vice Admiral GS Pabby PVSM, AVSM, VSM Chief of Materiel of Indian Navy and Shri Shekhar C Mande, Secretary DSIR and Director General, CSIR. The event was attended by Directors of Seven CSIR Labs, Flag Officers and Heads of Directorates of Indian Navy and eminent scientists from distinguished CSIR Labs.
The MoU provides a formal framework for interaction between Indian Navy and CSIR. It would facilitate joint R&D activities in diverse fields of Mechanical, Electronics, Communication, Computer Science, Propulsion systems, Metallurgy and Nanotechnology.
Speaking on the occasion, Vice Admiral GS Pabby congratulated CSIR for its yeoman service to the nation in the field of Scientific Research and Development and noted some of the futuristic technology being developed, which could be used for enhancing operational availability and combat capabilities of Naval platforms. He emphasised on the necessity of such partnerships between the armed forces and world class National Institutions like CSIR which would allow Indian Navy to leapfrog towards latest technologies as well as jointly engage under ‘Make in India’, and other innovative programmes of our Government. Signing of this MoU would form the foundation for exchange of ideas and development of new technologies in the future, he added. Shri Shekhar C Mande complimented the joint efforts and emphasised that defence remain a priority area for CSIR with an aim towards indigenisation and self-reliance in advanced technologies.
Some of the immediate projects to be progressed under this MoU include development of alternative desalination technologies, installation of wireless MEMS based sensors for remote operation, Residual Life Assessment studies of Gas Turbine Generator blades to improve reliability.
April 4, 2019 (New Delhi)
Startup action plan: 120 ventures get patents, 1 granted in just 101 days
As many as 120 startups have received patents for their products until March 31 this year under the Startup India action plan, according to the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade's data.
Steps taken by the department has led to the grant of a patent in only 101 days to a startup, MicroGO LLP. Tamil Nadu-based startup MicroGO received the patent for their 'Tubelet' technology mainly used for water purification, sanitisation and sterilisation. Another startup from Jammu and Kashmir, SID07 Designs, received a patent for its product - single-step automobile wheel-nut assembly machine and method - in six months only.
The department has taken several steps under the Startup India action plan, which was in 2016, to encourage budding entrepreneurs to file patent and trademark applications.
The Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) launched a scheme for facilitating the filing of intellectual property applications by startups. It has also empanelled facilitators, whose fees are borne by the government.
It provides 80 per cent rebate in patent filing and 50 per cent for trademarks. They also have a facility for expeditious examination of patent applications by startups.
According to the data, as on March 31 this year, 450 applications were filed since 2016 under the fast examination facility and 120 patents were granted and 42 were refused for certain reasons.
Generally, it takes about 4-7 years for the grant of patents, but the department is taking steps to drastically reduce this time to 18 months. Commenting on the patent, MicroGO LLP founder Rachna Dave said that the facility provided by the DPIIT is a great help for startups to receive patents, which enhance the value of their products.
"We benefitted from the Startup India action plan which provides relaxation in the filing of applications and fees. We do not have to go through the long process," Dave told PTI.
Founder of SID07 Designs Siddarth Gupta said that he has received the patent for his machine in only "six months"
"The product is used to assemble wheels in any vehicle. It will help in cutting time and cost," he said.
April 4, 2019 (New Delhi)
Science and Technology play a central role in societal development: Annual India Symposium on 'Science & Society'
Focusing on the role of academia and government in catalysing intersection between industry, scientific development and societal need, Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute (LMSAI) at Harvard University, in partnership with the Office of the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Government of India and NITI Aayog, concluded an eventful, Annual India Symposium - 'Science and Society' at Vigyan Bhawan on Thursday.
Science and Society are two elements that share a symbiotic relationship, of the two can truly flourish without the intervention of the other. The event went ahead on the same lines to elaborate on the role of science in developing society.
The symposium, which hosted scientists from leading universities in the US and India, identified three overarching strategic objectives, all directed to bolstering the intellectual ties that bind scientists to one another, and science to society.
More than 150 leaders from business, academia, industry, government and the research community, as well as officials and students from 20 academic institutes in India, took part in an event that also marks Harvard University's increased academic research presence in India.
"My family has always believed in supporting higher learning and its actionable outcomes for business and society. We are very proud of this inaugural event of The Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute at Harvard University, which demonstrates our continuing commitment to these goals. In particular, I would like to see more young people actively pursuing education and careers in STEM subjects. These skill sets are critical for future economic and societal growth. It is important that collectively business, custodians of public policy and academia work together to address such skill shortages with a common aim and purpose," said Lakshmi Mittal, Chairman and CEO of Arcelor Mittal, the world's leading steel manufacturer, and whose support lead to the creation of LMSAI.
The Symposium was graced by eminent leaders like Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog, Dr K. Vijay Raghavan, Principal Scientific Adviser to the Government of India, Prof. Tarun Khanna, Director - the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute and Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School, amongst other.
"All the countries that have grown rapidly such as Japan and China have done so, through science & technology. If we want to grow as a country, we need to focus and create opportunities in science & technology. It is time we get into sunrise industries for massive development in science and technology and have sustainable growth," said Amitabh Kant, CEO, NITI Aayog.
"The Mittal Institute has been active in India for over a decade, serving as a platform to facilitate a two-way exchange of ideas between Harvard and Indian universities, government agencies and civil society. LMSAI is an original source of thinking that advances our understanding of the key issues of our day - from STEM to technology in agriculture to the age of biology. As a multi-disciplinary Institute within Harvard, we have the advantage of working with faculty across all departments and professional schools at the University. We regularly bring creative minds together to provide multiple perspectives on ideas that can address complex societal problems facing South Asia and further help in policy decision making," said Prof. Tarun Khanna, Director- the Lakshmi Mittal and Family South Asia Institute and Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School.
Spread across six sessions, the Symposium hosted industry veterans who deliberated on a number of issues. While one session talked about technological advancements in agriculture, focusing on enhancing productivity and ensuring food security for our country, another session focussed on 'Catalysing India's Digital Health Ecosystem', wherein J Satyanarayana, Chairman, Unique Identification Authority of India elaborated on the significance of big data and Artificial Intelligence.
In a discussion on methods and tools to enhance STEM education in India, R. Ramannan, Mission Director, Atal Innovation Mission, touched on issues revolving around talent mismatch - the evident disparity between college curricula and industry expectations is one of them. He further spoke about many tools that can be used to propagate the idea of pursuing STEM careers among students.
Other distinguished names gracing the summit included Dr Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog; Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, CMD, Biocon; Dr V.K. Saraswat, Member (S & T), NITI Aayog and Chancellor, Jawaharlal Nehru University; Manoj Kumar, Senior Advisor & Head - Innovation, Tata Trusts; Satchit Balsari, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School; Sunita Nadhamuni, Head, Healthcare Solutions, Dell Technologies; Venkatesh Murthy, Professor and Chair of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Harvard University, Dmitry Popov and Ankur Goel, John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, Harvard University, among many others.
Dr Rajiv Kumar, Vice Chairman, NITI Aayog concluded the event, enlightening on the way forward by building a culture of science literacy in India. This society-centric Symposium included some grave issues that our country is facing right now - in terms of agriculture, education and health. It also acted as a platform to make people from diverse disciplines come together to discuss these issues and spread awareness about substantial and productive change in the society.
March 30, 2019 (New Delhi)
Architecture a rare discipline that combines science and art: Raj Rewal
Architect Raj Rewal said that architecture was a rare discipline where advancement of science and technology can be fused with poetic and artistic concern for progress with a "humane face".
He was speaking at a seminar on "Contemporary Heritage- Is the Meaning, Lost in Translation". The event was organised by the School of Architecture and Planning, GD Goenka University.
Mr. Rewal said that throughout his career he attempted to fuse poetic elements of space and light with empirical values to create his designs. He stressed on the importance of the play of natural light and space in all his designs. He demonstrated how the glow of natural light streaming from a glass dome can be combined with central air conditioning and other modern requirements.
'A building's spirit'
He emphasised that every building has a spirit, called rasa in architecture, and the design of a building complex needs to come together and create an ambiance that has a certain spirit. Mr Rewal was awarded an honorary Doctorate by the GD Goenka University.
Several architects and conservationists also held a discussion on the issues that face contemporary heritage. The discussion revolved around how heritage, which is inherited, must be cherished as it gives insight into a time gone by? They also talked about how contemporary heritage was not being afforded the same respect. The panellists deliberated on how to leave behind a mark of our culture so that people in the distant future may also be informed as to what kind of cultural ethos we possessed.
The discussion comes after one of Mr Rewal's first and most famous designs, the Hall of Nations at Pragati Maidan - built as a symbol of India's progress in the first 25 years of Independence - was brought down in April 2017 to make way for the re-development of the exhibition space.
March 29, 2019 (New Delhi)
'Whispers of Wind' on radio launched
Climate change and global warming is a challenge across the globe. To bring this issue to common people, a radio serial named 'Whispers of Wind' has been developed. The series has 52 episodes and has been produced by Vigyan Prasar, an autonomous body of Department of Science and Technology, and All India Radio.
The series will be broadcast on All India Radio from March 31, 2019 onwards. These episodes will be translated in 19 Indian languages and broadcast from 121 All India Radio centers (14 FM and 107 Medium Wave Stations). Each episode is of 27 minutes duration. Episodes will be in the documentary, drama or feature format. Some attractive prizes will be given to listners for answering the question asked at the end of each episode. There are prizes for asking the best question also.
"We hope the series will provide engaging content, ensuring participation of people in mitigation and adaption measures as envisaged in India's National Action Plan on Climate Change" said Dr Nakul Parshar, Director, Vigyan Prasar.
More than 400 subject experts, writers, scientists and transcribers were involved in develping the program. "The program is made to provide participatory listening experience. When there are reports and clear indications of climate change across the globe it becomes imperative to communicate people and make them aware about the consequences of climate change" said Dr B K Tyagi, Scientist and project coordinator, Vigyan Prasar.
The main objective behind this series is to create awareness about the challenges of climate change and promote understanding of climate change science, adaptation, mitigation, energy efficiency, and natural resource conservation.
"In the era of internet, radio has its own place and reach. To tap this potential these radio serials have their own place. There are remote areas where there is no or bad internet connect. These radio serials will be focusing those particular areas" said M Shailja Suman, Deputy Director, All India Radio.
Understanding the science of climate change and global warming, the natural and anthropogenic factors responsible for climate change, impact of climate change, preparedness of the global community to address the challenges of climate change, norms, conventions, and institutions to cope with climate change, India and climate change, institutional framework in India, mitigation and adaptation are the areas that have been covered under the theme.
Earlier Vigyan Prasar has produced radio serials on themes like sustainable development, astronomy, understanding and managing disaster management, grassroot innovation and so on.
March 25, 2019 (New Delhi)
No directive to restrict choice of subjects for research;Government believes in the principle of freedom in research
The Ministry of Human Resource Development has not issued any directive to restrict choice of subjects for research, as has been reported in a section of media since the Government believes in the principle of freedom in research.
Last year, there was a meeting of Vice Chancellors of 11 Central Universities, which were lacking in research. In the said meeting they presented a road map to improve research and also discussed the issue of more research on issues relating to national priorities. The minutes of the meeting were recorded.
The Government has given impetus to improve and expand research facilities. The Government has provided Rs 480 crore for Social Science Research Project under Impactful Policy Research in Social Sciences (IMPRESS); Rs 225 Crore for research in basic sciences; Rs 1000 crore under Impacting Research, Innovation and Technology (IMPRINT) for technology related research; Rs 450 crore under STRIDE for research in Humanities; and Rs 480 crore under Scheme for Promotion of Academic and Research Collaboration (SPARC) for joint research with foreign universities in any discipline.
March 8, 2019 (N.Delhi)
Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Launches GI Website & Tutorial Video on IPR
Union Minister of Commerce and Industry, Suresh Prabhu, launched a tutorial video on "Intellectual Property Rights" for school students and the GI website in New Delhi today.The tutorial video is available on CIPAM's You Tube Channel and will form part of the existing resource pool on CIPAM's official website www.cipam.gov.in which is freely available for public.
Speaking on this occasion, Suresh Prabhu said that India's huge geography and ancient history has given rise to a diverse and distinct identity and CIPAM has the mandate to protect and promote this diversity through GI. The website will help in promoting creativity and motivate more of India's skilled artisans to apply for GI registration.
Commerce Minister further said that GI is a manifestation of India's deep knowledge and skill in various crafts and protecting this knowledge will further encourage people to invent, create and innovate. Ministry of Commerce and Industry has put in place a new regime which will lead to India transforming into a knowledge based society.
Suresh Prabhu also stated that India is not only a signatory to TRIPS Agreement but has also enacted fresh legislations, amended existing laws and strengthened domestic legal framework to fulfil the harmonisation with the WTOs TRIPS Agreement. Fresh legislation has also been put in place to upgrade the countries IPR.
The 20-minute tutorial video has been created by the Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM), Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) in collaboration with Qualcomm. The video explains the fundamentals of Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) such as Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks.
'IP Nani', India's first Intellectual Property (IP) Mascot,features in a series of short animated videos, to spread awareness about the importance of IPRs amongst children. The tutorial video can be used in schools without any external intervention from teachers or experts and will aid in reaching a large number of schools and students, thereby overcoming issues of bandwidth and limited resources.
CIPAM, DPIIT, has been actively involved in many IPR related initiatives, including a nation-wide IPR awareness campaign drive in the country. Training sessions have been conducted in over 300 schools till now, reaching over 12,000 students. These sessions involved the use of interactive tools in the form of presentations, creatively illustrated posters and pamphlets, so as to teach the younger generation about recognizing their own IP as well as respecting others' IP. Content on IPR has also been included in the NCERT curriculum of Commerce for class XII.
The Geographical Indications (GI) of India website showcases Indian GIs products, classified state wise as well as product category wise. The website has specific and comprehensive details of geographical area, description of product, uniqueness, history, product process/ processing in addition to enlisting GI authorized users. It will increase the visibility and marketability of GIs of India and hence help in their commercialization.
Commerce and Industry Minister also gave away certificates to students who were selected to work on the GI website through a hackathon conducted by DPIIT.
The students who worked on GI Website are Deepak Singh, NitantSood, Karan Kapoor, Kunwar Deepak, Rachit Singhal, Sahil Verma, Rishabh Malik and Brahmdeep Singh.
March 9, 2019
Govt focuses on making science more accessible to people
Govt focuses on making science more accessible to people, but to become an R&D giant, India needs to do much more.
Between 2003 and 2016, India's article count in Scopus, the world's largest catalogue of abstracts and citations, increased from 27,000 to 110,000. Over that period, China's went up from 87,000 to 426,000, a meteoric rise that helped it dislodge the US as the largest single-country producer of science and engineering research. India's research output jump is no small feat, viewed against chronic problems of higher education. However, for better output and impact, India must not only fix these problems at the earliest, but also drastically increase R&D expenditure as well as reform policy in key research areas. In an effort to do this, the Principal Scientific Adviser to the government of India, K Vijay Raghavan, shared details of nine new science and technology missions that aim to promote research for the benefit of the society. The nine national missions include 'Natural Language Translation', 'Artificial Intelligence', 'National Biodiversity Mission', and 'Waste to Wealth'.
The net impact of these measures would be to make the usually academically complex discipline of science accessible to the masses by overcoming the language barrier and disseminating research and findings in the vernacular tongues-thereby providing teaching and learning material to teachers and students. There will also be focus on sustainable and ecological management and development of biodiversity- and development-related issues, with the same ensuring the sustainable soundness of science. Efforts will also be geared towards the development and use of artificial intelligence, quantum computing, connected mobility solutions and other technologies to address frontier scientific questions. These reforms are not enough though, and emulating China will require a lot more to be done, namely higher education reforms in the form of provision of autonomy to these institutes of eminence and sectoral reforms like the safeguarding of patented research output, amongst others. Till then, this is a good start.