Category Archives: @MPP, NLS

IPR and Innovation : A Tete-a-tete with Mr. John Matheson

Mr John Matheson, former General Counsel, Global Public policy at Intel, Singapore delivered a special lecture on Trade secrets—emerging dynamics in the current scenario” on the 26th of July,2016. The Lokniti team caught up with him afterwards for his insights on the IPR regime and more.

Lokniti: There have been controversial allegations against the mechanisms and secrecy with which trade negotiations are carried out, and this raises concerns about the surrendering of a country’s sovereignty to these corporations who will carry out dispute settlements. What is your take on these concerns?

JM: There is a very formalised process with how USTR works with businesses and with trade associations. They have a very good grasp of what businesses want in trade agreements. Of course, they don’t always agree with them but they know what businesses want. I would contrast that to RCEP. It seems very surprising to me that Indian companies are not more active in working with the trade representatives to try and get strong language in trade agreements. But it is going to help Indian companies in those areas if trade agreements apply. And it might simply be the immaturity of the system that that type of import has not been catered for in the past (sic).

Lokniti: Or is it a lack of transparency of what has been pushed and what has not?

JM: Well, it could be

Lokniti: Do you feel it is a deliberate attempt at maintaining that lack of transparency?

JM: Well, I can’t say it is deliberate. It might simply be the history of how things have always been done.

Lokniti: Just a norm?

JM: Which is a norm, maybe, a norm that is way out of date. Because as I mentioned in old days, trade agreements were simple documents about terrorists mostly and now because it is so expensive covering all areas of commerce, you do wonder whether the government is sufficiently familiar with what industry wants to actively represent at an international forum.

Lokniti: There is an over-reliance on regional cooperation when it comes to trade secrets protection. For example, the 12 countries of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the ASEAN countries have negotiated and agreed upon trade secret protection. How difficult it is to agree on a global legal policy framework, on the lines of WIPO or WTO for safeguarding trade secrets?

JM: Well, the more people you have around the table, the more difficult it is to get them to agree. So, obviously at the multilateral trade level and particularly at the WTO when there are so many countries and so many different views, it is going to be a long time before we can make any substantial progress beyond TRIPS. I think TRIPS will be the ground rules for IP for a long time to come. But, because it is so difficult to get change at that level, it has to be done at the regional level like TPP or at the bilateral level, where countries like the United States and South Korea are coming to an agreement on issues bilaterally that involve substantial reforms. But, the smaller the grouping is, the easier it is. So, I don’t think we will be getting any answers from Geneva. It has to be driven more locally.

Lokniti: With regards to the Cyber-security issues, the threat of hacking is always impending. How do you think the trade secrets could be protected in such a scenario?

JM: Well, there is an interface between trade secret protection and hacking. In jurisdictions where hacking can be done without breaching the domestic wall, there it may be that trade secrets provision assisting or making it easier. But, most countries have computer crime movers in place. But, they are broad and designed for so many different things. It makes it really complex to detect issues specific to hacking, such as where it was done, and where the perpetrator is located. A trade secret law might put the needle in the right direction but certainly, that won’t be the sole solution.

Lokniti: There are serious global challenges, such as climate change, which necessitates the free trade of knowledge, skills and technologies, how do you think the IP regime should respond to such global challenges?

JM: There is always going to be a tension and we have seen this in pharmaceuticals where it costs billions of dollars to produce drugs. The drugs are very expensive and the people who need it live in the third world. Such a tragedy is very difficult to resolve from a legal standpoint because everyone wants to see low priced medicine reaching the right people. And we got the same potential conflict in green energy, but it should be easier because Governments need to incentivise their own people to use renewable energy.

So, I think the government has a role to play in helping to resolve the conflict. You’ve got to be careful to not stick to compulsory license solutions. The compulsory license is the strongest police power that a country has over a company and it leads to very quick erosion of trust in the legal environment. So, companies would be less inclined to invest in a country that nationalises their IP. So, I would encourage countries not to look at that solution and look at government and centres working with IP owners as part of the solution.

Lokniti: Don’t you think without government intervention, innovation will be stymied? People will prefer business-as-usual and there will be less focus on research and development of new technologies?

JM: Well, I think India, like everywhere else has to start innovating. Intel, as a company, when it was starting off had a major problem with IBM. IBM owned all the IP, and as a small company, Intel’s strategy was to start on a small, creating their own innovations and to innovate around IBM’s IP. So, I think India has got the capability of doing that. In green energy, for example, where so many IP owners want to be in the market, India is in a very good negotiating position. To be working with the owners of the IP and undertaking joint developments.

You know, if a company wants to be in India and you’ve got strong research capabilities here, it is a perfect opportunity for a joint development in this environment where you’ve got so many smart people and a great need for technology. So the solution requires some creativity. It’s not just blaming the big business for having all the IP. I would say stop feeling sorry for yourself and go and do something about it.

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Autological | Deepa K S

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Deepa K S has been a student of the Masters of Public Policy programme at NLSIU, 2014-16 and is also one of the co-founders of Lokniti. In the capacity of an outgoing editor, she offers some perspective on the inception of the blog, along with its potential as a policy forum.  

Autological is a borrowed title from one of my favourite poets. Like most borrowed things, it gets things going in interesting ways and serves the purpose more than originally intended. I do believe it is better than ‘autobiographical’, at least in the case of Lokniti that began as a journey committed to finding nemos, dorys and other voices that mattered. This is not to sound glib, but the first group of students who signed up to be part of Masters of Public Policy at National Law School had to do two things at once – they had to find both intellectual spaces for themselves and make it as meaningful as it was diverse and they had to announce to the world that they were a distinct species of scholars who could work deliberately different because they were trained to do so. There will be other meanings and other contexts for Lokniti in the coming years, but these were the very first ideas and ideals that shaped the space and lent it whatever voice it has today.

It was born thus on a December morning squeezed in a small tea break, its arrival noiselessly announced through the click of a button. In the first year classroom, when a slide show opened to empty space, we had the joy of having that created space entirely for ourselves. The best thing I remember about working for Lokniti was that it worked on borrowed time and effort always. Like its birth, its form and shape was carved out of talented students chipping away at their assignments and finding some miraculous time to caress the blog as they went, teachers who came with tight schedules from all over the world but generously offering thought bytes to short interviews, and more and more students drawing, designing, writing, thinking and shooting videos to keep this space alive and well. It was teamwork and idealism that gave birth to the blog like all other student-led ventures we had in class.

Anyone who wrote for the blog wrote passionately about what they had seen and inferred from the ground that could shape public policy, laws and vision of this country. I believe it was the confidence that what they thought mattered and consequently what they wrote could influence the world around, that encouraged contributors to keep coming back with work to the blog. And yet to everyone who has been involved, it was primarily a space for friendship and easy comradeship as well as a democratic space to respectfully argue and build a world of ideas. For both this freedoms-freedom to live together and disagree- the cornerstone of every macro institutional setting we will inhabit in future, we are grateful. About the implications of the work presented and the tenderness of labour that nurtured it, we are thankful.

Adios!

 

Ramblings from an Alumnus| Mounik Lahiri

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Mounik Lahiri has been a student of the Masters of Public Policy programme at NLSIU, 2014-16 and is also one of the co-founders of Lokniti. In the capacity of an outgoing editor, he offers some perspective on the inception of the blog, along with its potential as a policy forum.  

It just dawned on me a few days back that I am no longer a part of this experience of learning and debating Public Policy with some of the best professorial minds and the brightest students that I have had the privilege of sharing a classroom with and of working in an unending array of projects (published or otherwise) during my two years as a student of the Masters of Public Policy programme at NLSIU. And I realised the best way to give vent to my current state of mind would be through the blog which I and some of my enthusiastic classmates who are now friends for life co-founded two years ago and which is now managed quite brilliantly by our equally enthusiastic juniors and the current editorial team.

At the outset, it gives me immense pleasure and satisfaction to narrate and perhaps offer some perspective to this space (this blog), which belongs to all of you to share your thoughts, ideas and ramblings on the theoretical and practical manifestations of public policy. Two years ago when we jointly founded this blog to give a voice to all of us and to successive batches of public policy students who will occupy the coveted positions of being participants for the Public Policy programme at this prestigious institution, we had no idea where this blog would go but had to start it nevertheless. And now I feel the blog is not just in safe hands but that it has great possibilities ahead. And it must be mentioned that it wasn’t easy, we were a group of students enthusiastic to jointly embark on a journey of exploring the contours of public policy in India and globally and by virtue of being the first batch of students here, we were attempting to do so in a law school that has had no legacy of prior public policy education.

Carving out our own space for expressing our views and perspectives and to give vent to unending intellectual discussions and debates in class and outside, we felt this was the best platform and so we gave to ourselves this blog. My earnest appeal to all of you is to give more thoughts, ideas and contributions to this blog and to make it grow to a collection of the best that students of Public Policy at NLSIU has to offer. In the next few paragraphs, therefore, you will find some perspectives on our common purpose with respect to this space in the worldwide web through this blog and in the practical realms of the world and our shared discipline and passion – public policy!

If you are reading this article it is highly likely that you are a public policy student here at NLS, and if you are, the chances are you will belong to one of the two categories. Either you will be a new entrant to law school, which are the physical and the intellectual space that is encompassed within the boundary walls of this colourful institution or you will be one among quite a few who just moved a year closer to graduating with a public policy degree. One of the most beautiful features of this programme is that it makes all participants go through a series of systematic learning and training exercises on how to most systematically think of public policy and its various manifestations, irrespective of their disciplinary background.

The challenge though is that most of the humanity does think and opine on public policy anyway, we discuss it over the morning newspaper, the dinner table with family and friends and on weekends or when glued to the twenty-four-seven news channels at the fag end of a tiring day. And unlike astronomy or medicine, the majority of individuals anywhere on the planet think they do not need any special training or specialist knowledge to think or opine on issues of public policy relevance. Even though all of you would have a multitude of reasons for wanting to study public policy as an academic discipline, it shall be really unfortunate if you do not find yourself in the tiny minority which believes that public policy deserves no less of academic, analytical and intellectual rigour that is reserved for some of the most elevated natural science disciplines.

This is because this conviction is what will get tested and decide what you do with the discipline as you deal with the multitude of ambiguities and policy paradoxes over the course of your interaction with the various theoretical dimensions of public policy. And since you will be in the tiny minority with this conviction, you shouldn’t be surprised when you come across people or even voices within you that question the desirability of abandoning an intuitive common sense approach to policy studies for a more rigorous analytical approach to solving policy problems. Of all that the theoretical discipline of public policy and the practical world of policy making and evaluation needs is the conviction of policy scientists like you, who can believe against all temptations, in a rigorous and systematic study of policy sciences and take it upon themselves to inform and educate the world on how better policies can be made, understood and implemented. Therefore the task ahead of us is not slight but one that shall be immensely satisfying and meaningful at the end of the day.

Finally, to all of you who have gone through a rather long list of ramblings which are packaged as perspectives and experiential learning, thank you for your patience and may you all find this journey as meaningful and satisfying as I have and be as nostalgic as I am currently, at the end of your respective journeys. May all of you also be successful in spreading your passion for public policy wherever you choose to go and make a difference with your training and intellectual curiosity.

 

Recruitment challenges and opportunities: An interview with the outgoing RCC

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 Paras Tyagi and Swasti Raizada take some time off their busy schedules to answer a few questions about their experiences working as erstwhile members of the Recruitment Coordination Committee (RCC), Masters Programme in Public Policy, 2014-16, NLSIU.

  1. The emergence of Public Policy as a field of enquiry and an established discipline in Indian academia is as recent as a decade ago. Knowledge about the nature and scope of the field is also being rapidly made known. In this context, how do you appeal to recruiters and make the program attractive?

Swasti: We begin with explaining how public policy is a broad framework of the purpose and process for addressing a social, economic, technological or environmental issue and is essentially rooted in what the governments choose to do or not to do. This helps the recruiters in understanding why it needs to be treated as an independent and professional service. This is done by invoking the examples of increasing number of specialist positions like Economic Advisors, Defence Advisors, and Public Health Consultants etc. within the Government. It is also done using examples of political consultancies which are increasingly focusing on bringing policy convergence.

From our experience, it has been witnessed that organisations in the development sector are better placed to recognise this growing importance while organisations which deal with technical areas such as energy, infrastructure, defence, and technology are still struggling with understanding what job roles should be assigned to policy analysts and consultants.

Paras: Students have an important say in matters related to academics, extracurricular activities and other student activities in NLSIU. This helps the students to interact with the decision makers at all levels in the university, and with this experience, they learn about the nitty-gritty of administration.

A public policy professional is the ideal choice for the industry as someone who can communicate with the government, to not only speak the language of law but also understand the sensitive nature of public issues.

  1. What makes the MPP course at NLSIU stand out in comparison to Public Policy courses at other institutions in India? How important is the convergence between law and policy from the recruiters’ perspective?

Swasti: Well, in India law still remains the key engine to drive policy design. Public policy at NLSIU reflects a balanced transition from this traditional approach to a more dynamic policy approach. Experts both in the private and public sector are gradually realising the benefits of having a professional who understands the administrative pressures while formulating and implementing a policy. E.g. Why it is important to speed up the publication of policy briefs during the Budget Session, analyse public comments on a draft policy in a limited timeframe, embedding Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in the policy design itself to help monitoring and evaluation etc.

NLSIU, with its distinguished faculty and alumni, is one the best places to operationalize such a vision. It is the only law school to have an independent public policy programme in the country. It has a rich blend of bureaucrats, internationally recognised guest speakers, domain experts frequently visiting the campus. This helps it root all policy debates in the sacrosanct Constitution of the country and provide students with a foundation that helps them logically deconstruct the rules and regulations that drive the administration of a diverse country as India. For the recruiter, this means that although the students of MPP have a domain expertise from their undergraduate studies, they are equally enriched in understanding the application of law to a policy problem. This makes the batch of students unique in their holistic understanding of a problem statement.

  1. What kind of organisations especially look for policy graduates? What skills do they seek in them?

Swasti: The MPP course at NLSIU provides students with the latitude to explore their interests to suit the academia, civil society organisations, government and corporate organisations. Organisations having any sort of government interface are turning towards policy students for creating new roles. To start with, the recruiters expect the students to be good at monitoring and evaluation, one of the better-evolved streams within the policy cycle. Besides these, a strong theoretical background in policy studies helps the student to be imaginative when tasked with a problem statement in the industry. Analytical tools like social cost-benefit analysis, impact assessments, content analysis, social network analysis etc. are add-on skills for evidence-based policy making. A student is also expected to have some technical grounding in the sector to be able to easily adapt to it.

Paras: The Government has realised the importance of partnerships with the private sector to enhance the quality of governance with new tools that are not only technical in nature but also critical policy skills to aid the government in decision making. Organisations like state-owned rural livelihood missions, Ministry supported think-tanks and other government-aided agencies look for policy graduates. Similarly, corporates, research think-tanks, donor agencies and other organisations interested in the social sector have also shown interest.

  1. What challenges did you face in your endeavour to develop and sustain a long-term relationship with the industry?

Swasti: Since the policy space in the country is still in its experimental stage, the career path for students is still unclear. Although the recruiters are excited about the novel concept of public policy, getting exact job descriptions from recruiters takes its own time. Job definitions vary from business development to advisory roles. In some cases, policy students are offered legal positions by virtue of being a student of National Law School while design of economic policy instruments is left to a separate team in the organization. This leaves the student underutilized, even misplaced in some cases within the organizations and also leads to compartmentalization of the policy itself. As RCC therefore, getting details of job descriptions and communicating the exact nature of the role to the students so that they understand what the organization has to offer therefore becomes crucial. As a student body, it is a daunting task to be able to create that bridge between students and industries and provide a perfect job fit for the two.

Paras: We faced many important challenges. The biggest one was to convince people about the course and its intent to serve both the private and public sectors. As it is a new discipline in India, many people especially in the government were not aware about its purpose to serve both social and economic development objectives of the society.

  1. Carving out a niche for the program is critical in the initial years. How can the course be structured, from your experience, to cater to the evolving needs of the industry?

Swasti: Well, the pedagogy of public policy at NLSIU has been conceptualized after a thorough brainstorming exercise between the academic stalwarts of the country. It has brought in a good mix of subjects taught in prestigious international universities. The course can be enriched on the applied side by creating a repository of case studies and more hands-on learning by bringing industry projects to the campus. Additionally, introducing skill based courses like econometrics, negotiation, financial accounting, and project management can help the students inculcate creative thinking. Broadening the range of electives offered can also help enrich the course and make it attractive to a wider pool of recruiters.

Paras: Students should take initiatives to interact with the organizations where they would like to see themselves in the future and try to research about the policy challenges faced by them. If the interested students can research about, for instance, the CSR related activities of the industry, then they can advise the organizations on efficient fund allocation in the future to meet their objectives.

Prof. Sony Pellissery on being awarded “Prof. G. Ram Reddy Social Scientist Award”

Prof Sony Pellissery, Associate Professor and MPP Coordinator, National Law School is the recipient of the Prof G Ram Reddy Memorial Award for Social Scientist 2015 in Hyderabad, India. In his acceptance speech, the renowned academician dwells on the nuances of understanding public policy in India as political responsibility and a tool to enhance the dignity of every citizen. Watch the professor’s take on policy, politics and people.