DAY #110 – Free GS Answer Writing Practice

1)Describe the vulnerability of the agriculture sector to natural disasters? What can be done to strengthen the resilience of agriculture sector to reduce the impact of such disasters?

Small-scale farmers, herders, fishers and forest-dependent communities which generate more than half of global agricultural production are particularly at risk from disasters such as tsunamis, hurricanes, cyclones, floods and droughts that destroy or damage harvests, equipment, supplies, livestock, seeds, crops and stored food.With half of the population dependent on agriculture in India, the impact of disaster is more severe in nature.

VULNERABILITY OF AGRICULTURE SECTOR

Disasters like heavy torrential rainfall and floods contribute to increased soil erosion, declining rangeland quality, salinization of soils, deforestation and biodiversity loss.
● Frequent frost bites in hilly regions as well as states like U.P. and Maharashtra also lead to considerable agricultural damage.
● 22% of all damage inflicted by natural hazards such as drought, floods, storms or tsunamis occurs in the agriculture sector.
● In developing countries, 83 percent of crop and livestock production losses occurred after floods and droughts.
● Fisheries & forestry cumulatively account for around 8% of the economic impact of losses caused due to disasters.
● Rural and semi-rural agricultural communities lack insurance and financial resources needed to regain lost livelihood.
● Any kind of disaster impacts agricultural trade flows and agro based industries such as textiles and food processing, national economies and livelihoods.
● Floods, cyclones, tsunamis can lead to loss of farmland by inundation and increasing salinity of groundwater in coastal areas.
● Damage and losses to the agriculture sector accumulate as a result of recurring disasters constraining agricultural growth and development.
● Drought annually affects millions of hectares of agricultural land in India as 65 percent of India’s cropped area is rain-fed. It depletes pastures and water, especially in the arid and semi-arid land areas, resulting in the deterioration of livestock body condition and reduced immunity. This was witnessed when drought recently occurred in the state of Maharashtra.
● Due to lack of proper storage facility and perishability of food items, food security becomes a challenge during such disasters. This has not been adequately addressed by disaster risk management measures.

MEASURES FOR STRENGTHENING RESILIENCE

Disaster risk reduction planning must be included in national agriculture development plans to actively reduce disaster losses in the sector, to enable growth and protect the food security and nutrition of vulnerable populations like disabled people, women, children, elderly etc. who are worst hit by disasters.

1. Understanding Disaster Risk: Different disasters require different responses. Floods cause more than half of the damage to crops, livestock are disproportionately affected by droughts, Fisheries by tsunamis & storms etc.Hence, understanding the impact of different types of disasters is crucial to ensure that the most appropriate policies and practices are implemented.

2. Improving information systems and dissemination in agriculture sector to address the significant data gaps at the global, regional, national levels. For example,
a. Satellite data about cropping system analysis, which includes crop area, cropping pattern, crop rotation etc.
b. focus should be on prediction and forecasting of extreme events in collaboration with IMD and ISRO
c. Remote sensing technology should be adopted in various aspects of agricultural crop management.

3. Implementation and monitoring of the three main international agendas which recognize resilience as fundamental to their achievement
a. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), specifically Goal 2;
b. Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015–2030;
c. Paris Climate Change Agreement

4. Implementation of innovative risk management tools, such as weather risk insurance schemes for agriculture and rural livelihoods.

5. Adoption of Internet of Things, Artificial intelligence and big data analytics to improve resilience of farmers and agriculture

6. Crops should be grown according to the local climate to increase the resilience of the agricultural sector.

Currently various programs aimed at reducing farm distress should incorporate Disaster risk reduction as an integral component. These schemes are Pradhan Mantri fasal Bima Yojana, PM Krishi Sinchayi Yojana, Agriculture contingency fund, National Watershed Development Program, National Mission on Sustainable Agriculture among others. National and regional governments should come together to prevent and mitigate the significant impact of disasters on agriculture by implementing the above schemes in letter and spirit.

2) In a globalized world, Intellectual Property Rights assume significance and are a source of litigation. Discuss.

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the intellect for which a monopoly is assigned to designated owners by law. Intellectual property rights (IPRs) are the protections granted to the creators of IP, and include trademarks, copyright, patents, industrial design rights, and trade secrets.

In the age of globalisation, the importance of IPRs as a marketable financial asset is well recognised as there is an abundance of creative and innovative energies flowing in India.
For example: The film and music industry; Indian pharmaceutical sector in enabling access to affordable medicines globally and its transformation to being the pharmacy of the world; A strong and dynamic software industry; A considerably diverse handicraft and textile industry; Richness and versatility of the Indian systems of medicines such as Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Yoga.

SIGNIFICANCE OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS

Economic growth of the nation: A robust IPR regime promotes a holistic and conducive ecosystem to achieve economic growth and socio-cultural development, while protecting public interest. IPRs contribute to wealth creation, employment opportunities and business development.

Healthcare and agriculture: Intellectual property protection is necessary to the success of biotechnology companies. For these companies, the patent system serves to encourage them for the development of new medicines and diagnostics for treatment and monitoring diseases, and agricultural products.

Research and development: IPR facilitate better Research & Development ecosystem, especially in the field of emerging areas such as Internet of things, Artificial Intelligence, robotics, supercomputers, nanotechnology among others. It has been witnessed that there is a positive correlation between high protection and R&D.

FDI promotion: Stronger IPRs in trade agreements benefits developing countries by creating a favourable business environment that encourages foreign direct investment and technology transfers.

Protection of Traditional Knowledge: Intellectual property laws help indigenous communities protect their traditional knowledge and litigate against any arbitrary infringement without due share.

Marketing and commercialization of local produce and handicrafts through GI tag: Geographical Indicator Tags aid local communities in marketing their products at the national and global level for e.g. Basmati Rice. Further it helps communities in gaining recognition for their art forms and its promotion e.g. Madhubani and Kalamkari painting

Boost to Creativity: Copyrights laws to protect literary and artistic creation are crucial for artists to protect their creation from counterfeiting

● IPRs are also critical to strengthen the Make in India, Startup and Digital India schemes as innovation is central to the success of these missions

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS AND LITIGATION

Balancing public access vis-a-vis IPR protection: Restrictive nature of Intellectual property goes against the principle of larger public interest, especially in the area of drug discovery which is expensive and research-intensive process. Thus, balancing cost recovery with affordability becomes a challenge and often leads to litigation. For e.g. TB patients challenged a patent to prevent pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) from extending its monopoly on Bedaquiline, one of the two newest anti-TB drugs

Litigation under Patent laws: Developed countries and MNC often raise concern regarding the “rejections” of patent applications for innovative pharmaceutical products due to “unpredictable” application of Section 3(d) of the (Indian) Patents Act which prevents ever-greening of drug patents) and the patent-disabling Compulsory Licensing (CL) regime.
○ Government has retained this provision to ensure low prices for essential drugs, and has used compulsory licensing as a tool to keep exorbitant prices under check. E.g. in 2012, compulsory license was granted to Indian generic drug manufacturer Natco Pharma Ltd for Sorafenib tosylate, a cancer drug patented by Bayer.
Litigation against Evergreening: In Novartis case 2013, supreme court rejected the patent claim for Glivec, a cancer fighting drug for not meeting the criteria under Section 3(d) of ‘enhanced efficacy’ in the new product

Competition vis-a-vis IPR: Fraudulent practices of multinational companies to get secondary patents especially in cases of drugs, agriculture innovation, chemicals etc. It is regarded as unfair means of competition because these are disguised patents to establish monopoly by exploiting loopholes.

Copyright Infringement: In Internet era, stealing of creative work of artists and plagiarism is rising and becoming a source of litigation

High Cost of protected products such as academic publications: It prohibits students from accessing the knowledge leading to copyright infringement e.g. DU Photocopy Case where Oxford University press filed a copyright litigation against illegal photocopying of books.

● Low awareness among general public about intellectual property laws For example In PepsiCO case in Gujarat, where the company sued 9 farmers for growing a registered potato variety under Plant Varieties and Farmers’ Rights Act 2001.

Pre Grant-Opposition: Indian Patent Law allows for a mechanism termed pre-grant opposition, which allows a third party to challenge the validity of a patent applications before it is granted. The provision is often used by NGOs. Such a procedure is not recognized in most countries.
● Data Exclusivity Norms: These norms prohibit generic drug manufacturers from using the clinical trial data of big pharmaceutical companies.

Bio Piracy: In February 2012, European and Indian activists started opposing a patent on virus resistant traits of indigenous melon varieties in India which was awarded to Monsanto. The activists lay claim it was not an innovation of Monsanto but instead bio- piracy, employing conventional breeding techniques, certain virus resistance was carried out from an Indian melon to other melons.

Seed Piracy: Indian farmers cross GM varieties with local varieties using plant breeding to yield better strains, an illegal practice termed “seed piracy. For e.g. Monsanto Case over the use of GM seeds to produce hybrid cotton planting seeds by local seed firms.

Patent over life forms: Patent of synthetically or artificially produced living forms which are not otherwise naturally existing is an issue which has been submerged in controversy since the first such claim application was made. Patents over genetically modified organisms, plants and stem cells etc. gets entangled in litigation.

● Today concerns such as software piracy, digital or internet piracy is becoming another potential source of litigation.

Though litigation often obstructs the timely access to the fruits of Intellectual property, these have helped in evolution of IPR laws by carefully balancing the intellectual property rights against public access to such creations. The litigations have reduced the unpredictable applications of provisions of patent laws and helped in strengthening the legal and institutional regime.

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