Rss

  • stumble
  • youtube
  • linkedin

Archives for : Kumar

#India – Tribal Woman raped in bus, helper arrested #Odisha #Vaw

RAPE

Odisha Tribal woman raped in moving bus

PTI : Bhubaneswar/Cuttack, Wed Jun 19 2013, 1

TOP ST

A 25-year-old tribal girl was allegedly raped by the helper of an air-conditioned luxury bus in which she was travelling, police today said. The accused identified as Susanta Hembram has been arrested for allegedly raping the tribal girl, resident of Mayurbhanj district of Odisha, in the moving bus on Sunday night when other passengers were fast asleep, they said.

In her complaint, the victim alleged that Hembram raped her in the rear seat of the private bus en route Jagatpur near Cuttack, between 3 to 3.30 am when there were only few passengers and all of them were asleep, City DCP S Praveen Kumar said.

Hembram is believed to be an acquaintance of the victim,who works as a domestic help in Jagatpur, on the outskirts of Cuttack city. The incident came to light when the girl was rescued by some people at Gatiroutpatna, about 5 km from Cuttack on Cuttack-Jagatsinghpur road yesterday.

The Mahila police station of the city after registering a case sent both the accused and the victim for medical examination on the day. A police scientific team is also assisting the city police in investigating the case.

The State Transport Commissioner Surendra Kumar informed that the permit of the passenger bus in which the crime was committed has been cancelled. “It is one of the primary duties of the bus staff to ensure that the passengers boarding the buses travel safely and reach their destinations unharmed,” Kumar said. Meanwhile, the Private Bus Owners’ Association condemning the incident has demanded that stringent punishment should be given to the bus helper and urged the bus owners to ensure that the credentials of the persons are verified properly before they are recruited to perform duties in the buses plying at night.

Related posts

#India- Woman ‘gang-raped for over 4 months ,forced to marry one of her attackers #Vaw #WTFnews

 #India- Chastity, Virginity, Marriageability, and Rape Sentencing<span class= #Vaw #Justice #mustread" src="http://kractivist.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/meherjaan-still-9-fear-of-rape.jpg?w=600" width="600" height="450" />

but police REFUSED to register a crime

A 23-year-old woman was allegedly gang-raped by three persons in Gurgaon for a period of over four months.

The incident came to light when the victim approached a local court which directed the Gurgaon police to register a case of rape, criminal conspiracy and kidnapping under sections 376 and 506 in the Sector 5 police station on Saturday.

According to police, the victim had come into contact with one Pradeep Kumar, a resident of Nangloi, on November 12 last year.

 

“Kumar had contacted the victim as a call centre representative over the phone. He assured her to provide her a job in a call centre. When she met him the first time at Gurgaon’s Rajendra Park area, the accused took her to a rented house in Nangloi after telling her that some preparation was required before the interview.

“When Kumar reached his rented accommodation in Nangloi, he was joined by his brother Kedaar and cousin Neeraj and all the three raped her one by one at gunpoint,” investigating officer Rashik Lal said.

Kumar later forced the victim to marry Kedaar after threatening her with dire consequences if she revealed her ordeal.

All the three accused then raped her again and again over months. One of the accused always remained present with the victim to keep a watch on her.

However, the woman managed to escape from the Nangloi house on March 15 and reached her home in Laxman Vihar in Gurgaon.

The victim’s family then approached the Gurgaon police, who allegedly refused to register an FIR. Finally, the woman approached a local court and after the court’s direction, the police registered the case.

“We arrested the prime accused Pradeep Kumar from his house on Sunday while Kedaar and Neeraj are on the run. A team has been constituted in the matter and we will nab them soon,” Lal added.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2334792/Gurgaon-gang-rape-Woman-gang-raped-months-forced-marry-attackers–police-REFUSED-register-crime.html#ixzz2VF54MoYB
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

  • #India – Woman ‘gang-raped’, brutally murdered in Indore #Vaw #WTFnews (kractivist.wordpress.com)
  • #India – Murder and Gang Rape of School Girls in Jharkhand #Vaw #WTFnews (kractivist.wordpress.com)

 

Related posts

CBI shocker to intel officer who holds key to 4 fake encounters

Gujarat EDN

AM  30MAY2013

Summons to IB officer Rajinder Kumar not only gives a spin to state’s fake encounter cases but also the unsolved Haren Pandya murder case

Ahmedabad Mirror Bureau [email protected]

The summons issued by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to Intelligence Bureau chief Rajinder Kumar will not only give a spin to fake enounters in the state but may shed light on the controversial and unsolved Haren Pandya murder case. Kumar was the only person that time with the Central IB to give to Gujarat cops in-puts of possible terror attacks.
Kumar, who was posted in Gujarat in the past, is believed to have played a dubious role during Godhra riots and even in the assassination case of former minister Haren Pandya by providing misleading and, at times, fabricated intelligence inputs. Mirror reported last year that the CBI was keen to investigate if IB inputs were specially generated at the Centre for Gujarat and if they were fabricated to assist Gujarat cops in their fake encounter mission. Incidentally,
it was Kumar who passed the leads
from central IB to state police for
almost all the encounters that took place between 2002 and 2007 in the state. At least four of them have proved to be staged killings.
After a lull following prolonged legal battles, the CBI is back to rat-tle Narendra Modi government over the several fake encounters that were staged by the trigger-happy Gujarat police to please their political bosses. The state government was initially rattled with the CBI failing to file a charge sheet in Ishrat Jahan fake encounter case against suspended IPS officer G L Singhal and others and now the agency has issued summons to Kumar who gave constant inputs from the central IB to Gujarat cops.
EX-DGP SREEKUMAR ON IB OFFICER
On March 26, 2003, Pandya was assassinated and his father Vithalbhai Pandya said that it was a “a political murder”. Incidentally, Modi had ordered tapping of Pandya’s telephone, sources said. Subsequent development showed that it was not the only time that the CM had ordered tapping of senior politicians’ phone, they added. At a meeting on April 16, 2002, Modi told retired DGP R B Sreekumar that Congress leaders, in particular Shankersinh Vaghela, were responsible for the continuing communal violence in the state. Sreekumar told Modi that he had no information on their involvement in the communal violence. At this, Modi asked him to tap Vaghela’s phone but Sreekumar refused, saying he had no information on the basis of which he could order surveillance.
Interestingly, two days later, Kumar, then posted in Ahmedabad as IB joint director, sold the same line to Sreekumar. When Sreekumar sought specific information, the IB man said he had none. The IB had been one of the few claiming the Godhra incident was a ‘pre-planned conspiracy’. It is still not clear how the IB was able to reach this conclusion within hours of the incident and questions have been raised on Kumar’s proximity to Modi.
Kumar also floated the theory that theGodhracarnagewasanISIconspiracy. This was done within hours of S-6 coach of Sabarmati Express catching fire near Godhra station killing 59 passengers on February 27, 2002. This has also been told to the Supreme Courtmandated SIT on may 9, 2008 by retired DGP R B Sreekumar.
Sources said as the chief of central IB in a state, he was expected to share his actionable intelligence with the DGPoratbestwiththecommissioners ofpolice.But,Kumarusedtofrequently visit Ahmedabad Crime Branch office at Gaekwad Haveli to meet D G Vanzara, who was its then chief.
MODI AND KUMAR
It is said that Kumar became close to Modi when the former was posted in Chandigarh. Modi at that time was BJP’s Punjab in-charge.
Sources said the modus operandi of Gujarat police was to first detain a person illegally and then get inputs from the central IB of a likely terror attack.
A selected coterie of Gujarat police officers close to those in power would bump off “dreaded terrorists on a mission to assassinate top BJP leaders, mainly Chief Minister Narendra Modi”. Investigations later proved that those eliminated were either petty criminals or innocent people labelled as terrorists by Gujarat police.
Interestingly, intelligence inputs givenbyKumartothestatepolicecontradicted the two previous IB inputs issued in the same case. Not just that, a charge sheet filed by Gujarat police in a lesser-known case of gambling against Sadiq Jamal also exposed the lie of Gujarat police and provided evidence that the encounter was staged. Forensic reports and the testimony of an IB officer substantiated the claim that Sadiq was killed in a fake encounter.
15 DAYS TO RETIRE
Reliable sources in Delhi said that Kumar was highly influential in IB and the summons have been issued as he could be a part of the conspiracy. Kumar has been asked to remain present on Friday at 11 am at CBI headquarters in New Delhi. CBI Director Ranjit Sinha and Special Director Salim Ali will interrogate him. The summons have been issued when only 15 days are left for his retirement.
NOT A TERRORIST ATTACK
Sources said if a terrorist attack happens or is about to happen, the Army personnel in that particular region investigateontheirown.InPandyacase, Army did not go ahead with the investigationwhenitrealisedthatitwasnot aterrorist attack but a political matter. Also, the Army, state IB and central IB work parallel and share information. However, in Pandya’s case, that did not happen.
A source said, “After the investigation of Pandya’s murder was transferredtoCBI,ateamwasconstitutedin the crime branch to assist in arresting the accused in cohesion with Kumar. ItwasthenrevealedthatIPSofficerAbhay Chudasama was specially inducted in the team. A series of happenings in Gujarat in the last few years has revealed the involvement of former minister Amit Shah, Vanzara and Chudasama in foisting false cases and propagatingatheoryconducivetothe powers-that-be. The Sohrabuddin case has shown the extent to which a minister in Modi government, with the help of two police officers, can go to eliminate innocent woman Kauserbi and liquidated prime witness Tulsi Prajapati. These happenings cannot be ignored.”
SADIQ JAMAL ENCOUNTER CASE
The killing of Sadiq Jamal is one of the caseswhichwillbrewtroubleforGujarat police. Jamal was killed in a police encounter on January 13 in 2003 near Galaxy Cinema in Naroda. As many as 17policeofficersarefacingallegations of hatching the conspiracy to eliminate Jamal.
Interestingly, Gujarat police cited a similar reason for eliminating Samir Khan Pathan, Ishrat Jahan, Javed Sheikh and Sohrabuddin Sheikh. The CBI investigations have found serious lacunae in Gujarat CID (crime) probe in this case. Intelligence inputs given at that time by Kumar also bear discrepancies.
Incidentally, Kumar’s name is also mentioned in the FIR filed by Sadik’s brother Shabbir Jamal. Kumar’s name has also been referred to in the statement of Anupamsingh Gehlot, the then Bhavnagar district superintendent of police who said that Kumar had informed him about Jamal.
ISHRAT ENCOUNTER
Ishrat Jahan, a college student from Mumbra along with Javed alias Pranesh Pillai and two Pakistanis Amjad AliRanaandZeeshanJoharwerekilled in a fake encounter at Hansol on June 15, 2004. Over 21 police officers, including K R Kaushik, P P Pandey, D G Vanzara, G L Singhal, N K Amin, K M Vaghela, J G Parmar, V D Vanar, S B Agravat, D H Goswami, R I Patel, D A Chavda, Tarun Barot, K S Desai, Ibrahim Kalubhai Chauhan, Mohanbhai Lalubhai Kalasva, Mukesh Vyas, Nizamuddin Barhanmiya, Anaju Ziman ChaudharyanddriversBhalabhaiand Mohanbhai Nanjirao have been named in the case. But CBI investigations now may lead to some more names. Gujarat cops killed 19-yearold Ishrat saying she was an LeT terrorist on a mission to kill Modi along with other BJP and VHP leaders. They said they killed her on basis on intelligence received from the Centre. The CBI has not only found discrepancies in versionsofallstateofficersinvolvedbutit is even examining the role played by a senior central IB officer in this case.
FALSE ALERT?
JUNE 15, 2004
Ishrat Jahan fake encounter. Kumar gave an input that two Pakistanis along with Ishrat and Pranesh Pillai planned to kill Chief Minister Narendra Modi and other politicians.
JANUARY 13, 2003
Sadiq Jamal encounter. Kumar gave an input that Sadiq travelling from Dubai had planned to kill Modi and VHP leader Pravin Togadia
JUNE 23, 2003
Ganesh Khute encounter. Kumar gave an input that two people coming to Mumbai plan to kill BJP minister Ashok Bhatt and others.
MARCH 17, 2006
Vatva Ganga row house. Kumar gave an input that a few people are into illegal activities and plan to kill top politician of Gujarat (four people were shot in encounter).

Related posts

#India – The Law That Saved a Billion Lives

4 May 2013

A portrait of a fearless piece of Indian legislation that assures affordable medication to the world’s poor

BY Achal PrabhalaSudhir Krishnaswamy , Open Magazine
NEED FOR CHEAP DRUGS: Cancer patient Siddhart Maske seated outside the Tata cancer hospital in Mumbai

NEED FOR CHEAP DRUGS: Cancer patient Siddhart Maske seated outside the Tata cancer hospital in Mumbai

One day in September 2007, Arun Kumar (1), a serving officer in the Indian Army, took a routine blood test. To his surprise, he found his total leukocyte count (TLC) was at 13,000, a little beyond the normal range (4,000-11,000). The next day, it had climbed to 25,000. Four days later, his TLC had shot up to an alarming 125,000, and he was evacuated from his remote posting in eastern India and flown to a Command Hospital thousands of kilometres away. It was as his doctors suspected: Kumar had chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML). He was lucky for having caught the cancer in its incipient phase.

Kumar was lucky in other ways as well. For one thing, his form of cancer is treatable, thanks to a miracle cure called imatinib. For another, the Armed Forces take care of all his treatment costs while on active duty, and the Ex-Servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) will cover him even after retirement. This is no small matter; imatinib is available in generic form from multiple suppliers in India, but a single dose costs Rs 1.2 lakh per annum—and he is likely to stay on medication for the rest of his life.

Despite these advantages, Kumar’s struggle against CML has not been without setbacks. He suffers from chronic indigestion, possibly as a result of his high medicine intake. The Command Hospital he is treated at is overburdened, and frequently runs out of imatinib. During these stockouts, which can last up to several weeks each year, he is on his own: he has to buy imatinib in the market, without reimbursement. Three years ago, his doctors noticed a sudden increase in the chromosomal aberration that indicates CML, and doubled his dosage of the medicine. Still, his body is responding well. Had he instead developed resistance to imatinib, he would have had to upgrade to dasatinib, a newer medicine that Bristol Myers-Squibb (BMS) launched in the market in 2006. BMS, an American pharmaceutical major, markets dasatinib in India under the brand Sprycel at a price of Rs 18 lakh per annum. Natco, an Indian manufacturer, produced a generic version of dasatinib that cost one-eighteenth of the BMS price, at about Rs 1 lakh; BMS sued Natco, and the case is currently in court.

Today, Kumar is alive and well, and his cancer is barely detectable. His annual medicines bill is Rs 2.4 lakh, a sum he can afford only because his employer picks up the tab. That might sound like a large sum of money to expend on one patient alone, but it is in fact the lowest price at which imatinib can be bought anywhere in the world. Hospitals operated by the Forces—like all other government-run health facilities—buy generic imatinib exclusively through competitive tenders; if they were forced to buy Gleevec (spelt Glivec in Europe and other markets), a brand of imatinib marketed by the Swiss multinational Novartis—which introduced the medicine to the world in 2001—they would be looking at an annual bill of Rs 30 lakh for Kumar alone, which is to say, they would have to pay 12 times as much.

Unfortunately, such a price scenario is not idle speculation: until two weeks ago, India’s public health system—funded by taxpayer money—faced the prospect of either instantly multiplying its budget several times over, or, in the case of CML patients, treating only a twelvth of the people it was earlier supporting.

Thankfully, Kumar’s future is safe.

On 1 April 2013, Supreme Court Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Prakash Desai upheld previous decisions of the Intellectual Property Apellate Board (IPAB) and the Patent Controller in deciding that Novartis’ application covering a modification to the original imatinib compound was not worthy of patent protection—and thereby, market monopoly —in India. It was a judgment heard around the world. Mainstream media exploded with news of the Indian Supreme Court decision, marking a first for a lengthy document that put forth a complex technical argument based on the arcane workings of intellectual property, itself an arcane subject.

In the flurry of news coverage that ensued, perhaps no fact was mangled as much as the immediate impact of the decision on price and accessibility. The price of imatinib matters, and it matters to us now. In the wake of the judgment, a popular line of argument has been that no matter how low medicines are priced, there will still be millions of people who cannot afford them. This is true, but it is no justification for a higher price: it is a simple consequence of poverty. A low price still matters to the middle-class because it provides them affordable medicines, and it still matters to the desperately poor because it enables foundations, agencies and governments that fund public health to extend treatment coverage to more people who need it.

The other popular line of argument is that this judgment will have no effect on access to imatinib since most people get it free anyway. These exact words have appeared in the editorials and news reports of several publications over the past few weeks, never mind that the opposite is true. Consider the dissimulation that produces this argument. There are an estimated 42,000 people being treated for CML with imatinib in India today. Of these, Novartis claims 16,000 patients use its brand of imatinib, Gleevec. Novartis further claims that 90 per cent of these Gleevec users—about 15,000 patients—get the medicine free through a charitable programme run by the company. (The Cancer Patients Aid Association—CPAA—disputes these claims). Even if we take Novartis at its word, there are at least 27,000 patients—65 per cent of all people diagnosed with CML—who are paying for their imatinib, either directly or via their employers. Now hear Paul Herrling, head of corporate research at Novartis, conveniently mixing up his numbers, magically expanding the scope of his company’s charity, and setting the narrative: “90 per cent of all people diagnosed with that specific form of leukemia get Gleevec free.”

Regardless of the intent, perhaps we ought to be grateful for the sudden spurt of attention towards Indian patent law. It is well worth understanding. After all, it is the reason we are alive.

+++

The Nobel Prize-winning relief organisation Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) calls India ‘the pharmacy of the developing world’. It is a well-deserved distinction, and it took the better part of five decades to achieve. The Indian generic pharmaceutical industry took off in the 1970s, and continues to provide patients across India with what are arguably the cheapest certified medicines available in the world. After an early phase of consolidation, the Indian generic industry looked outwards—and began exporting its medicines with some success. Today, large swathes of Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and Asia (not to mention some sections of the American and European market) depend on Indian generic medicines to a significant extent. An industry born of a straightforward strategy for pharmaceutical self-sufficiency has transformed into a world-class hub of low-cost medicine production.

It was no accident. Like so many transformations that mark our time, it began in the 1960s. Justice Bakshi Tek Chand and Justice Rajagopala Ayyangar, two pioneering patent law reformers of the period, laid the foundations on which the generic industry would be built. The Tek Chand Committee reviewed the Indian Patents and Designs Act of 1911, and argued that it did not encourage scientific research in India. The committee recommended that patents be put to use for the good of the Indian public, and that patented products be reasonably priced, failing which, compulsory licences ought to be issued (which would legally revoke the time-bound monopoly conferred by patent protection).

The Ayyangar Committee took the argument further, noting that far more patents were being granted to foreigners than Indians, and that Indian patents were not proving commercially successful. The Ayyangar Committee asked for the country’s patent law to be redesigned to respond to India’s needs as a developing country, and drew upon European precedents to exempt food, medicines and chemicals from product patents. This legal provision formed the cornerstone of India’s Patents Act of 1970, and enabled the emergence of the generic pharmaceutical industry we know today.

At the same time as Justices Tek Chand and Ayyangar were looking for ways to reform Indian patent law, a nascent pharmaceutical manufacturing base was coming into its own. The Bombay-based generic medicine pioneer Cipla, founded by Khwaja Abdul Hamied, had been operating for 35 years by then. Cipla and other firms of its kind made it clear to the Government that they needed to bypass product patents in order to grow, and it is likely that the presence of a capable manufacturing base hastened the introduction of a law that would help it expand. Once the law took shape, there was no looking back. The Patents Act of 1970 changed the game: the global landscape of medicines was forever altered, and for the better.

The period extending from the 1970s to the early 1990s was something of a golden age for the Indian generic industry. In the absence of binding international treaties that regulated patents, the State was more or less free to do as it pleased, and the generic industry took advantage of this to build its capacity and spread its wings. Then, in 1994, India signed the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), as part of its accession to the World Trade Organisation (WTO)—and the trouble began. The Indian State had no choice, really; WTO membership was an offer it couldn’t refuse if the country wanted to keep trading with the world.

+++

In Novartis AG vs Union of India, Justice Alam traces the antecedents of Indian patent law. While he does not delve into the frenzied political bargaining that foreshadowed TRIPs, he does reflect on the deep concerns expressed within India—and in other countries reliant on Indian medicines—over the impact of product patents on the domestic generic industry. India’s experience of patents was limited, and the immediate crisis posed by signing up to TRIPs was an existential one: would the pharmacy of the developing world have to shut shop?

In the years following 1994, the Indian State struggled to reconcile its domestic patent law with the international regime it had acceded to. In part, this was because of the commonly held belief that TRIPs forced India to forgo the flexibility to mould its patent law to suit its needs. The feckless thrashing about by the Indian political class in the wake of TRIPs produced several failed ordinances, many aborted legislative attempts, and some modest legal reform between 1994 and 2005. Notably, it was in this period of indecision that the governments of the United States and the European Community launched formal complaints against India at the WTO—in 1996 and 1997, respectively—for failing to fulfil its obligation to provide interim protection to patent applications in advance of a new patent law. (By the terms of TRIPs, India was required to bring its patent law into line by 2005; it was also required to set up an equivalent system in the intervening period.) The WTO upheld the US and European complaints. As a result, India amended its patent law in 1999, setting up a ‘mailbox’ for patent applications and instituting a scheme of Exclusive Marketing Rights (EMR) to serve as a proxy for patent privileges in the run-up to patent protection.

Within the generic pharmaceutical industry, the period between 1994 and 2005 was characterised by confusion. Some generic manufacturers stuck to their guns: Cipla, for instance, made a brilliant, headline-grabbing move in 2001 by offering MSF the cocktail of medicines required to treat HIV and AIDS at a jaw-dropping price of $350 per annum—at a time when the prevailing price around the world was over $10,000. But as India further complied with TRIPs, the effects of full compliance were becoming clearer, and they did not bode well for the industry.

In the end, the demands were met by the 2005 amendment to the Patents Act. Unusually—or luckily—a curious combination of negotiating deadlocks, parliamentary unrest and the strong presence of the Left parties in the ruling coalition resulted in a strikingly bold and original law. The amendments finally made to Indian patent law were a culmination of the policy concerns expressed since 1994.

In his judgment, Justice Alam notes that Parliament paid particular attention to Novartis’ exorbitant pricing of Gleevec—the first medicine in India to have been granted an EMR—and used the experience as a lesson in understanding what could happen under a patent regime of unfettered monopolies. The amendments of 2005 complied with TRIPs and ushered in product patents and yet featured several distinguishing details. Significant among these was a higher threshold for inventiveness, which, while allowing for incremental innovation, demanded that the increment be amply demonstrated in the form of measurably greater efficacy.

At the outset, there was no doubt these largely unprecedented provisions would eventually be challenged. An early exercise to deflect international murmurs about the legitimacy of these provisions was the formation of a Technical Expert Group on Patent Law Issues, headed by Dr RA Mashelkar, the (then) head of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR). The Mashelkar Committee was established in April 2005 and tasked with examining a couple of crucial questions pertaining to the TRIPs-compatibility of Indian patent law. It took its time to deliver.

Soon after, Novartis’ application for patent protection on its beta crystalline modification of imatinib was examined. (The patent on the original compound was instituted before 1995, making it ineligible for consideration under Indian law.) In 2006, the Patent Controller rejected Novartis’ application on the grounds that it failed to satisfy several provisions, including section 3(d) of the Patents Act, which asks for a demonstration of increased efficacy to prove incremental innovation. Novartis appealed the decision to the IPAB, which rejected the application in 2009. As a last resort, Novartis filed a Special Leave Petition under Article 136 of the Indian Constitution to challenge the ruling of the IPAB, and this is how the case reached the Supreme Court.

For 15 years, Gleevec travelled through the courts like a bullet in slow motion fired at Indian patent law. Every step of the process was a cliffhanger; every outcome, at every stage of the challenge, had the potential to directly affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people at home and abroad.

Prior to the Supreme Court decision in this matter, Novartis had approached the Madras High Court, arguing—in a separate but related charge—that section 3(d) of the Indian Patents Act was unconstitutional. In effect, Novartis was trying to do what the Swiss government would not. Instead of the Swiss government hauling India to the WTO—as the US and EU had done before, and as is standard procedure in a sovereign dispute—Novartis was taking the Indian Government to court for violating its obligations to the WTO. In 2007, the Madras High Court rejected Novartis’ charge and declined to rule on India’s compliance with TRIPs. Novartis did not appeal. Curiously, however, the Mashelkar Committee submitted its own report to the Government a few months before the case was to be heard, and its conclusions supported Novartis. In the run-up to the hearing, Novartis brandished the Mashelkar Report as proof of the Indian Government’s complicity in the alleged flouting of international protocol. More curiously, it turned out that the conclusions of the Mashelkar Report were lifted verbatim from a paper commissioned by a lobby group of multinational pharmaceutical companies and executed by a (then) doctoral student, Shamnad Basheer. In the ensuing scandal, the report was withdrawn and Novartis lost a key prop in its argument. (Several years later, the report was rewritten, re-submitted to the Commerce Ministry’s Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion—and accepted.)

The Madras High Court’s ruling was primarily concerned with constitutional rights and goals. In contrast, the Supreme Court judgment of 2013 restricts itself to the discipline of patent law. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no reference made within the judgment to the Constitution or rights of patients. Justice Alam’s summary observation is that Indian patent law promotes breakthrough innovation while restraining monopoly claims for minor innovation—by which he means modifications that are trivial and do not substantially add value to the original innovation.

The historic nature of the judgment cannot be overstated: not only does it justify Indian patent law as it exists, thereby safeguarding access to medicines, it recasts the Indian patent regime as an agenda-setter for innovation, thus giving it the potential to change the game once more.

Twenty years after TRIPs made its début on the world stage, thanks to the Novartis judgment we can now safely say there is wide flexibility available to member states who wish to comply with it. To exploit this, however, and to make the system truly work for innovation and access, the Indian experience suggests that four factors are crucial. One: the intellectual capacity to create alternatives to standard interpretations of TRIPs, which depends on a robust academic and activist structure that is unafraid of originality. Two: organised patient groups and public interest lawyers who bear the moral impetus of an independent civil society; in the Novartis case, the CPAA and the Lawyers Collective played outstanding roles. Three: the driving commercial ambitions of a generic pharmaceutical industry that makes medicines for the domestic market. Four: an independent judiciary that is confident enough to withstand the public-relations onslaught and backroom bullying that typically accompany cases with major global implications.

Innovation is the point of the Novartis judgment. Innovation is also the point of every detractor of the judgment, including Novartis. The detraction is simple: that this spells the end of innovation in India. Behind this prediction of doom is a widely held notion that patents are an index of innovation.

In theory, they are. Patents are supposed to be temporary monopolies awarded by law as an incentive for publicly disclosed innovation. In reality, however, the global patent system has been gamed beyond recognition. In the preceding decades, as India struggled to refine its patent law, other countries turned their patent systems upside down. In the US, Europe and Japan, powerful pharmaceutical lobbies have managed to consistently weaken standards, creating a system that no longer has the capacity to recognise, much less reward, genuine innovation. Minor and mostly inconsequential innovations rule, and it’s a bitter victory, for they win at the cost of breakthrough innovation. A recent report in the British Medical Journal sums up the global research situation for new medicines: ‘This is the real innovation crisis: pharmaceutical research and development turns out mostly minor variations on existing drugs, and most new drugs are not superior on clinical measures.’

If breakthrough innovation is more important than the incremental kind, as common sense indicates, why do pharmaceutical companies overwhelmingly focus on the latter? For one thing, breakthrough innovation takes time and money and necessarily involves a high risk of failure. For another, minor innovation—relative to its investment—produces very satisfying results. In a recent Public Library of Science study, researchers tallied the benefits of secondary patents in the US market from 17 years of data. They found that on average, a secondary patent adds between 6 and 7 years to the patent life of the original compound. To appreciate the financial windfall that a single year’s additional monopoly represents, consider atorvastatin, a blockbuster cholesterol medicine. The American pharmaceutical company Pfizer launched the medicine under the brandname Lipitor in 1996. At its peak, while under patent protection, Lipitor generated $12 billion in annual revenues. The moment it went off patent and had to compete with generic brands, Lipitor’s revenues plummeted to a little over $1 billion. Pharmaceutical companies chase secondary patents because they have the potential to extend monopolies and deliver exceptional returns for relatively little effort, and this is exactly the kind of lopsided incentive scheme that Indian patent law is designed to thwart.

The other big detraction—a detraction that almost wholly constitutes the innuendo around the Novartis judgment—is that Indian patent law is not TRIPs-compliant since it has not had its day at the WTO yet. There are several ways to think about this. First, the Madras High Court’s rebuff of Novartis’ constitutional challenge in 2007 implicitly addressed this question. Novartis did not appeal the judgment. Second, the WTO does not hand out certificates of compliance: a law that is unchallenged at the WTO is, by default, compliant. Third, if another sovereign entity—like the US or EU—wanted to haul India to the WTO Dispute Settlement Body, it has had plenty of time to do so: eight years to be specific. When India dithered on commitments made to the WTO in 1994, the US and EU formally hauled up India at once. They did so because they were confident they had a case—and they won. India was forced to rectify its mistakes. There is a reason the US and EU have not taken India to the WTO over the TRIPs-compatibility of its patent law. It is not that they are thrilled with the law or perfectly sure it is compliant. The reason India hasn’t yet faced a sovereign challenge on its patent law is that scholarship and evidence weighs in favour of its compliance—and no developed country wants to risk losing at the WTO, for a loss would serve as a licence to every country watching to replicate the Indian model with impunity.

And this brings us to the crux of the matter. India represents 1.3 per cent of the global pharmaceutical market by value. We are a poor country, and a resolutely low-cost generics market to boot. Certainly, there is money to be made here; it’s just that the money is little or nothing when set against the industry’s global bottomline. On its own, India cannot improve the way the industry innovates, regardless of the strength of its patent law, because it lacks clout.

The real problem for big pharma is the symbolic value of the Supreme Court’s justification of Indian patent law. You will not hear this problem expressed publicly, because expressing it will only make it worse, but rest assured CEOs in London, New York and Basel are worrying about it. The real threat posed by Indian patent law is that other countries may want it too. If that happens on a large enough scale—and it’s a big if—an unjustifiable business model will be upended and we may finally see innovation and access going hand-in-hand.

+++

(1) – Name changed

+++

(This piece draws, in part, on arguments previously expressed by the present authors in The Hindu on April 15, 2013, and by one of the present authors and Kajal Bhardwaj in Business Standard on April 6, 2013, in which the case of the anonymous Indian Army Officer, reported here at length, was discussed in summary. For further perspectives from cancer patients in India on the Novartis case, the Cancer Patients Aid Association has a useful compendium of reports. For a history of actions taken by Novartis over Gleevec in India through the last fifteen years, the Lawyers Collective HIV/AIDS Unit has compiled a comprehensive timeline with commentary.)

+++

Achal Prabhala works on access to medicines; Sudhir Krishnaswamy is with the Centre for Law and Policy Research, and on the faculty of Azim Premji University

 

Related posts

Chhattisgarh government paid TV channels for favourable news coverage, claims paper #paidnews

SUVOJIT BAGCHI. The Hindu, Dec 7, Raipur

Absolutely nothing wrong in funding the channels in a transparent way, says official

Raman Singh’s BJP government “has paid for favourable news stories” and “regular live coverage” to a host of national and local television channels, an English language newspaper reported.

Furthermore, the senior editors of the channels concerned allegedly wrote to the public relations (PR) department of the Chhattisgarh government “negotiating” rates to produce “news stories” and to ensure “positive coverage.”

The news story ‘Chhattisgarh government pays for all TV news that is fit to buy,’ published by theIndian Express on Friday, claimed the paper had in its possession nearly 200 documents exchanged between the PR department and the editors. While not challenging the veracity of the story, the Chhattisgarh government has brought counter allegations against the Indian Express, claiming that the newspaper has “taken more than 50 lakh” in the last two years as advertisements.

The channels named by the newspaper are Z24, a franchisee of Zee News, Sahara Samay, ETV Chhattisgarh, Sadhna News and other “smaller, local networks.”

The newspaper has published details of money allegedly received for government-friendly coverage ranging from welfare programmes, planting of trees in Naya Raipur, distribution of rice at subsidised rates to the poor, the Queen’s Baton relay in Commonwealth Games, the budget presentation, Independence Day speech by the leaders and even the generation of public reaction to welfare schemes — “five persons in each district with 30 seconds for every reaction,” the report says.

BJP leader Sushma Swaraj’s visit and anti-Naxal reports are also funded by the PR department, claimed the report.

The report listed what it called the rate for each of the paid news items. In May 2010, Hindi television channel Sahara Samay had presented a five-point proposal to the PR department. It included special television packages on Sahara Samay, 15 times a day, featuring “CM’s speeches, government policies and various departmental news” and the rate was reportedly fixed at Rs. 3.28 crore per year at Rs. 3,000 per minute. It also had proposals like covering the Chief Minister’s programmes using outdoor broadcast vans “live for 10 minutes” at Rs. 48 lakh per year. There were other offers like running side strips on screen, tickers, and side panels for which the PR department had to pay substantially.

The story provided ‘evidence’ of how other channels — Z24, ETV Chhattsigarh and Sadhna News — collected money for broadcasting the government’s welfare schemes.

“In May 2011, Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj, visited Bastar to inaugurate achana distribution programme. Z24, Sahara Samay, ETV Chhattisgarh, and Sadhna News telecast the programme live and produced ‘special stories’… Cost of the same was Rs. 14.26 lakh,” the report said.

On Friday, the State government’s PR department challenged the allegations but did not deny funding the television channels. Principal Secretary, PR, N. Baijendra Kumar told The Hindu that there was “absolutely nothing wrong in funding the channels in a transparent way.”

“We purchase airtime to showcase success stories, informative and promotional programmes through advertisements, advertorials, features and sponsored programmes in public interest,” said Mr. Kumar.

He refused to accept the clear difference between advertorials and news and repeatedly said that the PR department had not funded any “news.”

“Nobody highlighted the government’s welfare schemes, including The Hindu, but still we give advertisements. What is wrong if we do that for the television?” asked Mr. Kumar. Representatives of other media houses, sitting in the room, explained to the correspondent that the government “funds talk shows, which even feature the opposition party.”

“Mr. Varavara Rao, the Naxal sympathiser, appeared in my talk show,” said Mr. Kumar.

A handwritten note issued by the PR department claimed that in the last two years, an amount exceeding Rs. 54,43,000 had been released to the Indian Express for advertisements. However, theIndian Express letters to the PR department did not establish that the paper was selling news space to the government. Rather, it was evident that the marketing department, and not the editors, were selling the ad-space.

‘Out of frustration’

Later at night, the PR department issued a press note claiming that the Indian Express “has published said article out of frustration” as the government had “rejected” the paper’s proposal seeking more advertisements.

Mr. Kumar said the government had no plans to “review existing media funding policy.”

A reality: activists

Local activists said paid news was a reality in Chhattisgarh and the media refused to carry important stories for fear of government action.

“During the President’s visit, 45 activists from Bastar were detained in Raipur and nothing came out. I presume it is all because of paid news,” said B.K. Manish, a tribal activist from Raipur.

 

Related posts

Gay-rights literature takes off in #India

Editor Minal Hajratwal and editor Shobhna Kumar

Editor Minal Hajratwala (left) and editor Shobhna Kumar: releasing an anthology of stories about being gay and lesbian in India. Photograph: Sylvia Rowley

The Guardian by  -Sylvia Rowley

The decriminalisation of homosexuality in India is allowing writers to be out and proud

 A transgender Sikh comes to terms with a vagina, a Maharashtrian motorcycling champion tells of her hidden sexuality, and an unwitting lesbian is drawn into the Mumbai underworld.

Until three years ago, homosexuality was illegal in India and stories like these about the lives of queer Indians remained largely untold. Now, emboldened by legal recognition and a growing gay-rights movement, queer Indians are starting to speak up. Threats from religious activists against Salman Rushdie prompted him to pull out of India’s biggest literature festival earlier this year but the event’s first panel on queer writing barely raised an eyebrow.

Since then an anthology of queer erotica has hit the shelves, HarperCollins India has published a novel with a gay protagonist, and this month sees the release of Out! Stories from the New Queer India, an anthology of 30 contemporary stories about being queer and Indian from publisher Shobhna Kumar and editor Minal Hajratwala, both lesbians of Indian descent. “For 20 years since I came out I’ve been reading every single thing I can get my hands on that’s queer and Indian, even marginally so, you know even just a hint of queer in there,” laughs Hajratwala, who lives in the US.

“When we got the first round of submissions in I thought, ‘Wow, I have never seen this kind of thing before; the characters are totally different.’ I don’t think the story of how a Sikh mother feels about her son becoming her daughter has ever been told.”

The stories span gender identities, classes and cultures and some are translated from regional languages such as Tamil. One tells a wife’s story of finding out her business executive husband is bisexual and HIV positive, another is about the suicide of a lesbian couple in a rural village. A third sees two female were-lions (think werewolves) with henna tattoos falling in love in the bath.

Queer writing was published in India before section 377 of the Indian penal code – a colonial law banning homosexuality – was overturned in 2009. But the tone of these new stories is very different says Kumar, who began her company Queer Ink by posting imported gay novels to customers in brown paper envelopes. “After 377, writers feel a lot more empowered to write their stories – even if some remain anonymous,” she explains. “They’re saying: ‘I’m here, I’m queer, and there’s nothing wrong with that.’ They are not victims.”

The legal change has not transformed social attitudes overnight, and many groups still oppose the judgment. But the vast amount of media coverage that accompanied decriminalisation did drag discussions of homosexuality from the taboo to the mainstream. “Dinner-table discussions probably include the words lesbian and gay now,” says Kumar.

Stories of lesbians in particular have come to the fore in recent years as women’s social situation has shifted. “As the economy in India has changed, more women are working and have an independent income – some are living in the city by themselves,” says Hajratwala. “There’s a new scope for sexual agency that would not have been there maybe a generation ago.”

Nevertheless, it took Kumar six months to protect the authors by ensuring that legal responsibility for a book’s content lies with the publisher, not the individual authors, if the work is deemed offensive under India’s indecency laws. Many still chose to remain anonymous.

“It’s a really exciting time in India to be queer and to be part of that movement,” says Hajratwala. “Every book is an artefact of its time, and this is real, tangible evidence that a vibrant queer community in India exists.”

• Out! Stories from the New Queer India is available at queer-ink.com

 

 

Related posts

Karnataka Khap panchayat ostracises 16-year-old pregnant Dalit girl

 

Bannisorige village elders upset that she had an affair with a lower caste boy, thus “offending the family and the village”

Imran Khan 
Bengaluru

 May 2, 20120–A khap panchayat in Karnataka has ostracised a 16-year-old Dalit girl for getting pregnant by her lover. Jaya (name changed to protect identity), who works as a labourer, was slapped with a fine of Rs 10,000 by the Bannisorige village panchayat in Chamrajanagar district before banishing her. The village elders were particularly furious with Jaya for falling in love with Kumar who belongs to a caste considered lower than hers.

The incident came to light when Jaya was found begging at the Kollegal government hospital, near her village, by a local journalist. Now, seven months into her pregnancy Jaya had spent almost a month staying in the hospital compound, since she was banished from her village by the panchayat. When the matter was highlighted by the local media, the hospital authorities swung into action and admitted her as an in-patient; after nearly ignoring her for a month.

Jaya got into an intimate relationship with Kumar, who hails from the neighbouring village of Agrahara, after he promised to marry her. However, her family, who got wind of her relationship after she conceived, was furious when they realised that the boy hailed from a different caste.

The matter was reported to the village elders who held her “guilty” of “offending the family and the village” by having an affair with a boy from a lower caste. The panchayat declared her guilty and slapped a fine of Rs 10,000 and sent her out of the village.

Left to fend for herself, Jaya went to the government hospital in nearby Kollegal taluk for treatment. When the hospital authorities failed to take notice of her, Jaya started living at the corridors of the hospital and was forced to beg for food and money from the visitors at the hospital.

When contacted, the local police authorities said that despite being aware of the situation there was little they could do since no complaint had been registered. Chairperson of State Commission for Protection of Child Rights Nina P Nayak told Tehelka that the commission will investigate the matter and take further action.

Imran Khan is a Senior Correspondent with Tehelka.
[email protected]

Related posts