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Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 23 February 2022

Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 23 February 2022


Contents:

  1. Russian recognition
  2. WTO Trips

Russian Recognition


Context:

Russia has recently announced its formal recognition for the Donbas region enclaves (Oblasts) of Donetsk and Luhansk in Eastern Ukraine. This significantly impacts the diplomatic gains made so far that aimed to improve the relationship between Russia and Ukraine.

Relevance:

GS-II: Bilateral Groupings & Agreements, Effect of Policies & Politics of Countries on India’s Interests.

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Current Situation
  2. What does this move suggest?
  3. What are the implications on India?
  4. Way Forward

Current Situation:

  • Russia has granted recognition for two separatist groups that control parts of the Donbas region of Ukraine as governments.
  • Minsk accords:
    • It was an agreement that was negotiated in 2014 and 2015, however, it was never fully implemented.
    • The accord secured a “special status” for the Donbas enclaves.
  • The major conflict in the region began when Russia sent its “peacekeepers” into the region. This led to the confrontation between the troops of Russia and Ukraine.
  • This act of Russia has put an end to all hopes that the threat of conflict would recede once the tens of thousands of Russian troops along the Ukraine border, and in Belarus for military exercises, withdrew.
  • This gains significance in the backdrop of External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar travelling to Germany and France and Pakistani PM visiting Russia. The visit of Imran Khan is the first by a Pakistani PM in over two decades, and India is watching the new ties closely.
Editorials/Opinions Analysis For UPSC 23 February 2022

What does this move suggest?

  • This act of Russia signals that Russia is no longer interested in talks on the basis of the “Minsk accords”.
  • It is a clear sign that the situation is not going to be “managed” or “handled” without NATO sitting down to serious negotiation over the security guarantees that Russia has been demanding for two decades.
  • Regulating the expansion of NATO to Russia’s neighbouring countries.
  • Talks about the heavy presence of western troops and weapons in the region.

What are the implications on India?

  • The tensions in the region is worrying, given that the delivery of Russian S-400 missile systems is underway, and the U.S. administration is still to decide on whether to waive or impose CAATSA sanctions against India.
  • India’s recent statement at the UNSC that appealed for diplomacy and de-escalation, while making no critical comment about Mr. Putin’s announcement is not just an assertion of India’s traditional principled position, or a study in pragmatism.
  • It also signifies that India currently finds itself in a difficult position over the conflict, that seems to have entered a new phase.

Way Forward:

  • It is time for the U.S. and its European allies to decide whether they would react with sanctions, military action, or return to the diplomatic table.

-Source: The Hindu


WTO Trips


Context:

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, countries like India and South Africa made proposal to waive key provisions of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement  on certain medical products.

Presently, the developed world  is talking of a TRIPS waiver that would be geographically limited and exclude India.

Relevance:

GS-III: Health, Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. What is Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement?
  2. India is at the risk of left out of TRIPS waiver
  3. Which of the following reasons impacted India’s global campaign?
  4. Way Forward

What is Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement?

  • The Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights is an international legal agreement between all the member nations of the World Trade Organization.
  • Aims: The core idea of the agreement is that that intellectual property (IP) rights such as patents should not become a barrier in scaling up the production of medical products like vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics essential to combat Covid-19.

India is at the risk of left out of TRIPS waiver:

  • Need for Waiver:
    • Global inequality: Currently, only 11 per cent of Africans have been fully vaccinated. This is in sharp contract to the developed world that is rolling out booster doses for Covid-19.
    • This statistic reveals the magnitude of global inequality that poses an existential threat to global capitalism.
    • When the Covid-19 pandemic hit the entire globe, India, with South Africa, piloted a proposal to waive key provisions of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement on Covid-19 vaccines, drugs, therapeutics, and related technologies.
  • WTO’s failure:
    • However, WTO failed to adopt a TRIPS waiver till date. It has lost an opportunity to accept this proposal and send out a loud message that it prioritised the right to health over the supranormal profits of pharmaceutical corporations.
    • This would have demonstrated WTO’s relevance as a principal forum for setting the rules of international trade.
  • Talks to exclude India: The developed world is currently involved in talks regarding a TRIPS waiver that would be geographically limited and exclude India.
    • There are also attempts at limiting the waiver to vaccines alone, leaving out diagnostics and therapeutics.
    • This is really uncertain for India, which was has been at the forefront of fighting for the TRIPS waiver, is at risk of being edged out.

Which of the following reasons impacted India’s global campaign?

  • Diplomatic Failure: This is seen as a failure of India’s economic diplomacy to some extent.
  • Failure to use Indian Patent Act: During the entire pandemic, India rarely made use of the existing flexibilities under the Indian Patent Act, such as compulsory licences (CL), which are consistent with the TRIPS agreement, to increase the supply of Covid-19 medical products despite being nudged by the judiciary to do so.
    • On the Contrary, during the peak of the second Covid wave in May last year, the central government filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court stating that the main constraint in boosting the production of key drugs is the unavailability of raw materials, not IP-related legal hurdles.
    • This stand completely contradicted India’s argument internationally that views IP as an obstacle to augmenting the supply of Covid-19 medical products.
  • Lack of National strategy: A member country is required to amend their domestic IP laws to implement the waiver.
    • India, as a country leading the TRIPS waiver battle internationally, should have developed a draft model law enunciating how it would implement the waiver. In this case, a TRIPS waiver at the WTO would only be an enabling framework.
    • This would have not only secured India’s position internationally, but would have also acted as a pressure point to influence the negotiations.
    • However, India did not proactively develop a national strategy to implement the TRIPS waiver as and when it is adopted.
  • Failure to get the Indian pharmaceutical industry on board: The Pharmaceutical bodies are a divided lot with many Indian companies speaking against the waiver, thus denting India’s global campaign.
    • No Technology transfer agreements globally for Covaxin: India is one of the few countries that has successfully developed a fully indigenous Covid-19 vaccine, Covaxin.
    • India should have unlocked its technical know-how to the world.
    • Though India has signed technology transfer agreements  with domestic companies, it failed to do it globally.
    • Making the vaccine technology available to anyone interested globally, at a minimal price, would have exhibited India’s resolve to walk the talk on the TRIPS waiver.

Way forward:

  • Although, India would oppose the attempted exclusion, it should improve upon its Economic diplomacy and back these efforts by concrete actions on the domestic front.

-Source: The Indian Express

 

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