Below the line

Our Bureaus | Updated on April 18, 2021

The IP battle rages on

India made a strong case yet again for a temporary waiver of the intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines and medical products at a recent WTO event on vaccine equity. Its views, interestingly, were echoed in a letter written by as many as 175 world leaders and Nobel laureates to US President Joe Biden asking for a suspension of the IP regime for Covid vaccines. The argument in favour of a waiver is simple. If the need for licence agreements is lifted, vaccine production would increase significantly and the present deficit in supplies can be bridged.

However, despite various interest groups voicing their support, the powerful pharmaceutical companies in both the EU and the US have managed to dissuade policy-makers from green-lighting a suspension of the IPR regime. So powerful is this group that the WTO Director-General, who has spoken strongly about co-opertion to meet the Covid challenge, has not directly spelt out the need for a IP waiver. India and South Africa, which together launched the proposal for a waiver in October 2020, would seem to have a long fight ahead of them. But with the pandemic showing no signs of ebbing, it may be well worth it.

2+2 = 5

With the season of bank privatisation upon us, social media has got into prediction mode. This past week, information got ‘out’ that a Committee of Subordinate Legislation will meet on April 22 and Finance Ministry officials and representatives of four banks — Bank of Baroda, UCO Bank, Indian Overseas Bank and Bank of India — have been called to brief the Committee on regulations framed under Section 19 of the the Banking (Acquisition and Transfer of Undertakings) Act 1970.

No sooner did this information come out, social media was abuzz with talk about which of the two among these will get privatised. A virtual matchmaking, including horoscope matching (commonality of CBS platform, geographical synergy, etc), happened in the digital space though the meeting was just a routine one, a banker quipped.

A distorted picture?

A video of K Atchannaidu, Telugu Desam President for Andhra Pradesh, has gone viral, wherein he predicts that the TDP will be done and dusted after April 17 post the by-elections in the State. The video shows him blaming the leadership of Telugu Desam general secretary Nara Lokesh, son of TDP chief N Chandrababu Naidu, for the “mess” the party is in since its disaster in the 2019 elections. The video has caused considerable embarrassment to the TDP ahead of the polls, though Atchannaidu was quick to defend himself saying that it was made by the YSR Congress for political mileage.

Act of atonement

A Division Bench of the Telangana High Court has directed a State Government officer to feed at least 20 people a day during the holy month of Ramadan when people break the fast in the evening after offering prayers at the mosque. The order follows a contempt of court order against Mahabubnagar district Prohibition and Excise Deputy Commissioner for the delay in obeying a single-judge order for the release of a vehicle and then failing to tender an unconditional apology.

Did DoT jump the gun?

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) issuing a show-cause notice Vodafone Idea Ltd (VIL) has ruffled many a feather in the telecom industry, with some of the view that the licensor has jumped the gun.

While the Unified Licence Agreement mandates telecom operators to pay licence fee in four quarterly instalments during a financial year, for the last quarter a minimum payment should be made by March 25. This should be based on the expected revenues for the quarter, and should be equal to that paid in the previous quarter, and the difference should be footed within 15 days of the end of the quarter (April 15).

The notices to defaulters are generally issued only after April 15, and according to industry sources, VIL being issued one on April 7 was “shocking”. Further, it puzzled the industry that DoT had sought a reply by April 12, three days ahead of the deadline, even though VIL cleared all dues immediately after the receipt of the notice.


Published on April 18, 2021

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