India’s First TISC in Punjab | PIB Summary

The Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India, signed an Institutional agreement with the Punjab State Council of Science and Technology in New Delhi today to establish India’s first Technology and Innovation Support Centre (TISC) at Patent Information Centre, Punjab, under the World Intellectual Property Organization’s (WIPO) TISC program.

Objective

The objective of the Technology and Innovation Support Centre is to stimulate a dynamic, vibrant and balanced Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs) system in India to foster creativity and innovation, thereby promoting entrepreneurship and enhancing social, economic and cultural development by establishing a network of Technology and Innovation Support Centres in India.

Services offered by Technology and Innovation Support Centre include

  • Access to online patent and non-patent (scientific and technical) resources and IP-related publications;
  • Assistance in searching and retrieving technology information;
  • Training in database search;
  • On-demand searches (novelty, state-of-the-art and infringement);
  • Monitoring technology and competitors;
  • Basic information on industrial property laws, management and strategy, and technology commercialization and marketing.

Details

  • The Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) is designated as the National Focal Point for the TISC national network.
  • As the national focal point, CIPAM shall identify potential host institutions, assess their capacities and support them in joining the TISC program.
  • CIPAM will also act as the main intermediary between WIPO and TISC host institutions and coordinate all the activities of the national TISC network.

Significance

WIPO’s Technology and Innovation Support Centre program provides innovators in developing countries with access to locally based, high quality technology information and related services, helping them to exploit their innovative potential and to create, protect, and manage their Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs).

Conclusion

Over 500 Technology and Innovation Support Centres operate worldwide and establishing TISC in India will give the host institutions an access to the global network. In upcoming years, CIPAM is planning to establish TISCs in Universities, State Science Councils, R&D institutions etc. TISC will give an impetus to knowledge sharing, sharing of best practices among the TISCs, capacity building, generation and commercialization of IPs.

Cruise Tourism Reforms

The Ministry of Shipping, in conjunction with the Ministry of Tourism, has announced reforms to the regulatory processes governing the Cruise Tourism industry in the country.

Objective – Cruise Tourism

  • The objective is to revolutionize this industry which has a high employment generation potential, by simplifying the rules and procedures pertaining to various aspects of cruise port operations like security, immigration, and customs.
  • The promotion of cruise tourism requires not just improvement in infrastructure but also uniformity, transparency and predictability in the procedures followed by multiple government organizations. In other words, Ease of Doing Business is critical for the success of cruise tourism.

Details – Cruise Tourism

The reforms are based on the recommendations of a global consultant engaged by the Ministry to draw up an Action Plan for providing a customer friendly and hassle free logistics process for the cruise tourism industry and develop an enabling ecosystem necessary to promote and sustain cruise shipping in India.

Recommendations of consultant to streamline Cruise Tourism

  • Single window system for all pre cruise requirements for cruise operators like entry of vehicles, personnel and guides electronically doing away with checking of registration, license papers of vehicle at each time.
  • Create a separate dedicated approach road and entrance to the cruise terminals.
  • A uniform and consistent security procedures by CISF at all ports.
  • Providing adequate security and access to the port for passenger over-night and visiting local venues.
  • No face to face check after dis-embarking formalities.
  • Security checks for embarking passengers would be done only once.
  • Joint collaboration between the Bureau of Immigration and CISF and redesign the existing procedure to give a pleasant experience to the cruise tourists visiting India.
  • Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) to be framed for training and education of the personnel carrying out the process for better handling of passengers. 
  • Use of technology for clearances, providing passenger manifest to CISF and doing away with manual time consuming process.
  • Implementation of green lane/red lane at existing terminals with random custom checking as is done in the airport.
  • Declaration of only limited items of inventory of the cruise ships in place of the existing requirement of having the complete inventory for all the stocks in the ship.

Conclusion

A committee has been set up to work out the modalities and requirements for implementing the above recommendations in a time bound manner.

Creative India Innovative India Scheme

Taking forward the National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy 2016, a Scheme for IPR Awareness – Creative India Innovative India was launched by Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM) under the aegis of the Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion.

Creative India Innovative India | Details

  • The Scheme aims at raising IPR awareness amongst students, youth, authors, artists, budding inventors and professionals to inspire them to create, innovate and protect their creations and inventions across India including Tier 1, Tier 2, Tier 3 cities as well as rural areas in the next 3 years.
  • The Scheme for IPR Awareness aims to conduct over 4000 IPR awareness workshops/seminars in academic institutions (schools and colleges) and the industry,including MSMEs and Start-ups, as also IP training and sensitization programmes for enforcement agencies and the judiciary.
  • Workshops will cover all vital IP topics including international filing procedures, promotion of Geographical Indications and highlighting the ill effects of piracy and counterfeiting.
  • The Scheme for IPR Awareness would be implemented through partner organizations to promote innovation and entrepreneurship.

Highlights of National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Policy, 2016

  • The new policy calls for providing financial support to the less empowered groups of IP owners or creators such as farmers, weavers and artisans through financial institutions like rural banks or co-operative banks offering IP-friendly loans.
  • The work done by various ministries and departments will be monitored by the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP), which will be the nodal department to coordinate, guide and oversee implementation and future development of IPRs in India.
  • The policy, with a tagline of Creative India: Innovative India, also calls for updating various intellectual property laws, including the Indian Cinematography Act, to remove anomalies and inconsistencies in consultation with stakeholders.
  • For supporting financial aspects of IPR commercialisation, it asks for financial support to develop IP assets through links with financial institutions, including banks, VC funds, angel funds and crowd-funding mechanisms.
  • To achieve the objective of strengthening enforcement and adjudicatory mechanisms to combat IPR infringements, it called for taking actions against attempts to treat generic drugs as spurious or counterfeit and undertake stringent measures to curb manufacture and sale of misbranded, adulterated and spurious drugs.
  • The policy will be reviewed after every five years to keep pace with further developments in the sector.
  • IPR friendly loans to less empowered groups like artisans, weavers etc.
  • Motivating industries to use CSR funds to support IP development.

Income Tax Tribunal Reforms | Live Mint

The Income Tax Tribunal (ITAT) is the first independent forum where tax disputes are examined and where excesses of the state, if any, are remedied. In 2016, the Comptroller and Auditor general of India reported that 32,834 disputes were pending at the ITAT level, with Rs 1,35,984 crore of disputed amount.

Income Tax Tribunal | Draft 2017 ITAT rules

  • The draft 2017 ITATrules seek to make the tribunal more time-efficient by limiting the number of times a hearing can be adjourned.
  • The draft rules also include provisions to ensure that time-sensitive matters are dealt with swiftly: stay applications must be listed the same week they are filed and disposed of within a few days after hearing; and rectification petitions have to be heard within four weeks of filing.
  • It also seeks to incorporate modern technology into the daily functioning of the ITATby allowing e-filing of appeals, communication of notices, pronouncements and adjournments via e-mail and text messages, and carrying out hearings through video-conferencing.

Income Tax Tribunal | Amendments

  • Perhaps the biggest problem with the way ITAT benches currently function is the delay in timelines. This is a serious problem given that the ITAT is not the first level at which a tax dispute is raised. The proposals relating to adjournments stay applications and rectification petitions will go some way towards improving this situation. However, there are ambiguities in the draft rules regarding the sitting of the benches which could lead to the status quo continuing.
  • The draft rules, despite providing a limit of five adjournments, permit benches nonetheless to accept more adjournments at their discretion without providing any criteria for this. Even when it comes to the timelines for rectification petitions, the current draft rule only includes a time frame for hearing the petition, not disposing it off.
  • The rules also allow the ITAT to remand cases for adjudication as a whole to lower authorities, which high courts have previously held to cause severe prejudice to the parties, and urged against at all costs.

Income Tax Tribunal | Suggestions for improvement

  • The rules should ensure that the present ambiguities are ironed out by specifying detailed timings for the ITAT and ways of enforcing them, providing more detail on the number of adjournments and reasons for these, providing a time frame for disposal of rectification petitions, and preventing benches from remanding cases entirely to lower authorities, or, in the alternative that they be exercised only in exceptional cases and with time limits.
  • The committee has an opportunity to truly reimagine the ITAT by introducing the principles of case-flow management in the rules. Different kinds of cases currently take on an average the same duration of time to be disposed. An empirical study should be carried out to develop disposal timelines, and limit the number of cases listed per day (some benches have listed more than 100 cases per day) to minimize adjournments.
  • An empirical study should be carried out to develop disposal timelines, and limit the number of cases listed per day (some benches have listed more than 100 cases per day) to minimize adjournments.
  • The hearing process could also be streamlined by requiring the parties to engage in a pre-hearing meeting to determine a schedule for hearings.
  • The ITAT should also consider publishing periodic reports about its functioning. This will provide a valuable resource for reinforcing trust in the institution by allowing for introspection within the institution and feedback from the public.

The redrafting of the rules provides an opportunity for the ITAT to demonstrate its ability to be one of the leading dispute-resolution forums in India and take the lead in introducing global best practices in the Indian judiciary. Whether they will take up this challenge remains to be seen.

 

National Biopharma Mission

The first ever Industry-Academia mission to accelerate biopharmaceutical development in India will be formally launched in New Delhi on 30th June 2017.

Details | Biopharma

  • The program named Innovate in India (i3) will witness an investment of USD 250 million with USD 125 million as a loan from World Bank and is anticipated to be a game changer for the Indian Biopharmaceutical industry.
  • It aspires to create an enabling ecosystem to promote entrepreneurship and indigenous manufacturing in the sector.
  • i3 is committed to addressing these gaps with a Mission to make India a hub for design and development of novel, affordable and effective biopharmaceutical products and solutions.
  • The Mission to be implemented by Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC), a Public Sector Undertaking of Department of Biotechnology will bring together expertise from national and international corridors to provide strategic guidance and direction to move promising solutions through the product development value chain.

Aim | Biopharma

The aim of the Mission is to “Enable and nurture an ecosystem for preparing India’s technological and product development capabilities in biopharmaceuticals to a level that will be globally competitive over the next decade, and transform the health standards of India’s population through affordable product development”

Significance | Biopharma

  • As a flagship program of the Government of India in collaboration with World Bank, it promises to boost the growth curve for domestic biopharma in India by accelerating the translation of research concepts into viable products, supporting clinical validation, enabling sustainable networks for collaboration between industry and academia, and supporting entrepreneurial ecosystem amongst many others. Currently India has only 2.8% share in the global biopharmaceutical market, the program would elevate this to 5% resulting in an additional business opportunity of 16 Billion USD. 
  • The Mission will provide a holistic and integrated approach to strengthen and support the entire product development value chain for accelerating the research leads to product development. This will help not only in immediate product development addressing public health needs, but will also help to create an ecosystem which will facilitate development of a continuous pipeline of products.

Disinvestment of Air India CPSE

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has given its approval to fourth tranche recommendations of NITI Aayog on strategic disinvestment of CPSE (strategic disinvestment of Air India and five of its subsidiaries) based on the recommendations of Core Group of Secretaries on Disinvestment (CGD).

Highlights

  • ‘In principle’ approval for considering strategic Air India disinvestment and five of its subsidiaries.
  • Constitution of an Air India-specific Alternative Mechanism headed by Minister of Finance including Minister for Civil Aviation and such other Minister(s) to guide the process on strategic disinvestment from time to time and decide the following –
  • Treatment of unsustainable debt of Air India;
  • Hiving off of certain assets to a shell company;
  • Demerger and strategic disinvestment of three profit-making subsidiaries;
  • The quantum of disinvestment; and
  • The universe of bidders.

For More Keep Visiting Raj Malhotra IAS Academy

'Make In India' In Government Procurement

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has approved a policy for providing preference to ‘Make in India’ in government procurements.

Significance

  • The new policy will give a substantial boost to domestic manufacturing and service provision, thereby creating employment.
  • It will also stimulate the flow of capital and technology into domestic manufacturing and services.
  • It will also provide a further thrust towards the manufacture of parts, components, sub-components etc. of these items, in line with the vision of ‘Make in India’.
  • The new policy is the reflection of the Government of India to encourage ‘Make in India’ and promote manufacturing and production of goods and services in India with a view to enhancing income and employment.
  • Procurement by the Government is substantial in amount and can contribute towards this policy objective. Local content can be increased through partnerships, cooperation with local companies, establishing production units in India or Joint Ventures (JV) with Indian suppliers, increasing the participation of local employees in services and by training them.

Details

  • The policy will be implemented through an Order pursuant to Rule 153(iii) of the General Financial Rules, 2017 to provide purchase preference (linked with local content) in Government procurements.
  • Under the policy, preference in Government procurement will be given to local suppliers. Local suppliers are those whose goods or services meet prescribed minimum thresholds (ordinarily 50%) for local content. Local content is essentially domestic value addition.
  • In the procurement of goods for Rs. 50 lakhs and less, and where the Nodal Ministry determines that there are sufficient local capacity and local competition, only local suppliers will be eligible. 
  • For procurements valued at more than Rs. 50 lakhs (or where there is insufficient local capacity/ competition) if the lowest bid is not from a non-local supplier, the lowest-cost local supplier who is within a margin of 20% of the lowest bid, will be given the opportunity to match the lowest bid. If the procurement is of a type that the order can be divided and given to more than one supplier, the non-local supplier who is the lowest bidder will get half of the order and the local supplier will get the other half if it agrees to match the price of the lowest bid. If the procurement cannot be divided, then the lowest cost local supplier will be given the order if it agrees to match the lowest bid.
  • Small purchases of less than Rs.5 lakhs are exempted. The order also covers autonomous bodies, government companies/ entities under the government’s control.
  • The policy also requires that specifications in tenders must not be restrictive e.g. should not require proof of supply in other countries or proof of exports in respect of previous experience. They must not result in the unreasonable exclusion of local suppliers who would otherwise be eligible, beyond what is essential for ensuring quality or creditworthiness of the supplier.
  • The policy lays down a procedure for verification of local content relying primarily on self-certification. There will be penal consequences for false declarations. In some cases, verification by statutory / cost auditors etc. will be required.
  • A Standing Committee in Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion will oversee the implementation of this order and issues arising therefrom, and make recommendations to Nodal Ministries and procuring entities.

Conclusion

The policy has been developed keeping in view the core principles of procurement including competitiveness and adhering to sound procurement practices and execution of orders. The policy would continue to maintain the balance between promoting ‘Make in India’ and ensuring timely, value-for-money products for the procuring entities.

Make In India Gets Metro Boost: Click Here to Read the Article

Restructuring Plan For Hindustan Organic Chemicals Ltd

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, has approved a restructuring plan for Hindustan Organic Chemicals Ltd. (HOCL), a loss-making and sick Central Public Sector Enterprise (CPSE) under the Department of Chemicals & Petrochemicals.

About the company | Hindustan Organic Chemicals

  • The company, having units at Rasayani (Maharashtra) and Kochi (Kerala), has been making continuous cash losses since 2011-12 resulting in acute shortage of working capital.
  • Most of its plants have remained shut down during the last few years. It could not pay regular salary and statutory dues to the employees since February 2015.

Restructuring | Hindustan Organic Chemicals

  • The restructuring plan involves closing down the operations of all the non-viable plants at Rasayani unit of HOCL except Di-Nitrogen Tetroxide (N2O4) plant which is to be transferred to ISRO on ‘as is where is’ basis, with about 20 acres of land and employees associated with the plant.
  • The N2O4 plant is of strategic importance as it is the only indigenous source of N2O4 which is used as liquid rocket propellant by ISRO in the space launch vehicles.

Financial implications | Hindustan Organic Chemicals

  • Financial implications of the plan isRs. 1008.67 crore (cash) which is to be met partly from the sale of 442 acres HOCL land at Rasayani to Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd. (Rs.618.80 crore) and the balance (Rs.365.26 crore) through the bridge loan from the Govt.
  • The funds will be used to liquidate the various liabilities of the company, including payment of outstanding salary and statutory dues of employees and repayment of Govt. guaranteed bonds of Rs.250 crores due for redemption in Aug.-Sept. 2017.
  • The bridge loan amount, along with other Govt. liabilities of the company, is proposed to be repaid to the Govt. from the disposal of remaining unencumbered land and other assets of Rasayani unit.

Impact | Hindustan Organic Chemicals

  • Implementation of the restructuring plan will enable HOCL to close down the operations of non – viable plants at Rasayani unit while transferring the strategically important N2O4 plant to ISRO to ensure continuity of manufacture and supply of N2O4 for ISRO’s space program. Interest and welfare of employees will be addressed by payment of all their outstanding salary dues.
  • Disposal of land assets, initially through the sale of 442 acres to BPCL and subsequently of the remaining unencumbered land, will unlock the land assets for being redeployed for economically productive investments and thereby creating new employment generation opportunities.

Boost To Transform Domestic Nuclear Industry

In a significant decision to fast-track India’s domestic nuclear power program, and give a push to country’s nuclear industry, the Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for construction of 10 units of India’s indigenous Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR)The total installed capacity of the Plants will be 7000 MW. The 10 PHWR project will result in a significant augmentation of nuclear power generation capacity.

Focus – Cabinet approves construction of 10 units of India’s indigenous Pressurized Heavy Water Reactors (PHWR)

Analysis

  • India has current installed nuclear power capacity of 6780 MW from 22 operational plants.
  • Another 6700 MWs of nuclear power is expected to come on-stream by 2021-22 through projects presently under construction.
  • In a first of its kind project for India’s nuclear power sector, the ten new units will come up in the fleet mode as a fully home-grown initiative. It would be one of the flagship “Make in India” projects in this sector.

Significance

  • With likely manufacturing orders of close to 70,000 crores to the domestic industry, the project will help transform Indian nuclear industry by linking our goal of a strong nuclear power sector with our indigenous industrial capacities in high-end technologies.
  • This Project will bring about substantial economies of scale and maximize cost and time efficiencies by adopting fleet mode for execution. It is expected to generate more than 33,400 jobs in direct and indirect employment. With manufacturing orders to domestic industry, it will be a major step towards strengthening India’s credentials as a major nuclear manufacturing powerhouse.
  • The ten reactors will be part of India’s latest design of 700 MW PHWR fleet with state-of-art technology meeting the highest standards of safety.
  • The approval also marks a statement of strong belief in the capability of India’s scientific community to build our technological capacities. The design and development of this project is a testament to the rapid advances achieved by India’s nuclear scientific community and industry. It underscores the mastery our nuclear scientists have attained over all aspects of indigenous PHWR technology. India’s record of building and operating PHWR reactors over the last nearly forty years is globally acclaimed.  
  • The Cabinet’s decision reflects the Government’s commitment to prioritize the use of clean power in India’s energy mix, as part of low-carbon growth strategy and to ensure long-term base load requirement for the nation’s industrialization.
  • It also supports India’s commitment to sustainable development, energy self-sufficiency and bolsters global efforts to combat climate change.

Tax Treaty Related Measures | PIB Summary

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has given its approval for the Multilateral Convention to Implement Tax Treaty Related Measures to Prevent Base Erosion and Profit Shifting.
About the Convention

  • The Convention is an outcome of the OECD / G20 BEPS Project to tackle base erosion and profit shifting through tax planning strategies that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations where there is little or no economic activity, resulting in little or no overall corporate tax being paid.
  • The Final BEPS Project identified 15 actions to address BEPS in a comprehensive manner. Implementation of the Final BEPS Package requires changes to more than 3000 bilateral tax treaties which will be burdensome and time-consuming.
  • In view of the same, the Convention was conceived as a Multilateral Instrument which would swiftly modify all covered bilateral tax treaties (Covered Tax Agreements / CTA) to implement BEPS measures.
  • For this purpose, the formation of an Ad-hoc Group for the development of such multilateral instrument was endorsed by the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in February 2015.

Background

  • India was part of the Ad Hoc Group of more than 100 countries and jurisdictions from G20, OECD, BEPS associates and other interested countries, which worked on an equal footing on the finalization of the text of the Multilateral Convention, starting May 2015.
  • The Convention implements two minimum standards relating to prevention of treaty abuse and dispute resolution through Mutual Agreement Procedure.
  • The Convention will not function in the same way as an Amending Protocol to a single existing treaty, which would directly amend the text of the Covered Tax Agreements. Instead, it will be applied alongside existing tax treaties, modifying their application in order to implement the BEPS measures.
  • The Convention ensures consistency and certainty in the implementation of the BEPS Project in a multilateral context.
  • The Convention also provides flexibility to exclude a specific tax treaty and to opt out of provisions or parts of provisions through the making of reservations.

Significance

  • The Signing of the Multilateral Convention will enable the application of BEPS outcomes through modification of existing tax treaties of India in a swift manner.
  • It is also in India’s interest to ensure that all its treaty partners adopt the BEPS anti-abuse outcomes.
  • The Signing of the Convention will enable curbing of revenue loss through treaty abuse and base erosion and profit shifting strategies by ensuring that profits are taxed where substantive economic activities generating the profits are carried out and where the value is created.