Today's Headlines

Today's Headlines - 26 February 2023

India in International IP Index  

GS Paper - 3 (IPR)  

India ranks 42nd among 55 leading global economies on the International IP Index released by the US Chambers of Commerce, according to which India is ripe to become a leader for emerging markets seeking to transform their economy through IP-driven innovation.

According to the report

  1. The report covers everything from patent and copyright laws to the ability to monetize IP assets and the ratification of international agreements.
  2. India has maintained continued strong efforts in copyright piracy through the issuing of “dynamic” injunction orders.
  3. India not only has generous R&D and IP-based tax incentives, but also has a strong awareness-raising efforts regarding the negative impact of piracy and counterfeiting.
  4. It is a global leader on targeted administrative incentives for the creation and use of IP assets for SMEs.
  5. India has taken steps to improve enforcement against copyright-infringing content and provides a best-in-class framework to promote better understanding and utilisation of IP assets.
  6. However, addressing long-standing gaps in its IP framework will be critical to India's ability to create a new model for the region and India's continued economic growth.
  7. However, the report said the 2021 dissolution of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board, combined with the long standing issue of an under-resourced and overstretched judiciary, raises serious concerns about rights holders' ability to enforce their IP rights in India and to resolve IP-related disputes.
  8. Carriers to licensing and technology transfer, including strict registration requirements, said noting that there is limited framework for the protection of biopharmaceutical IP rights.
  9. Following a decade of steady, incremental, improvement in IP systems worldwide, a deluge of proposals under consideration by US and international policy leaders, including at multilateral organisations, threatens to compromise hard-won economic gains.


Third patient is cured of HIV

GS Paper - 3 (Health and Diseases)

53-year-old man from Germany, referred to as the Dusseldorf patient, has become at least the third person to have been “cured of HIV” with the virus not being detectable in his body even four years after stopping the medicine. This was achieved with a bone-marrow transplant from people carrying a specific HIV-resistant genetic mutation.

Who are the people who have become HIV-free?

  1. Referred to as the Berlin patientTimothy Ray Brown became the first person to overcome HIV after he underwent two stem cell transplants in 2007 and 2008 for treating his blood cancer.
  2. As a person with HIV, his doctors selected a donor carrying two copies of a CCR5-delta 32 genetic mutation – a mutation that is known to make the carriers almost immune to HIV. He remained HIV-free till his death due to cancer in 2020.
  3. Years later, researchers announced similar results in the London patient Adam Castillejo in 2019, replicating the treatment for the first time.
  4. The Dusseldorf patient, who also underwent a transplant for blood cancer, has remained free of HIV four years after he stopped taking antiretroviral that controls the level of the virus in the body.

What is CCR5 mutation and how does it fight off HIV?

  1. HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus) mainly attacks the CD4 immune cells in the human body, thereby reducing a person’s ability to fight off secondary infections.
  2. The CCR5 receptors on the surface of the CD4 immune cells act as a doorway for the HIV virus.
  3. However, the CCR5-delta 32 mutation prevents these receptors used by the HIV virus from forming on the surface, effectively removing the doorway.
  4. Only 1 per cent of the people in the world carry two copies of the CCR5-delta 32 mutation – meaning they got it from both their parents – and another 20 per cent carry one copy of the mutation, mainly those of European descent.
  5. Those with the mutation hence are almost immune to the infection, although some cases have been reported.

Why did the Chinese researcher who edited this gene out face backlash?

  1. A Chinese scientist called He Jiankui, in 2018, edited the genomes of twins Lulu and Nana to remove this CCR5 gene in an attempt to make them immune to HIV. Their father was living with HIV.
  2. A month after the first babies were born in October 2018, he announced that he had created the first genetically edited babies.
  3. He faced immediate backlash from the scientific community and legal action. This is because guidelines for genetic editing prohibit germ-line editing – editing a genome that can be passed from one generation to the other – as the editing techniques are not very precise and the long-term consequences of such editing is unknown.
  4. And, antiretroviral therapy could anyway have prevented mother-to-child transmission of HIV.


Vostro accounts and trade facilitation

GS Paper -3 (Economy)

Government officials informed that 20 Russian banks, including Rosbank, Tinkoff Bank, Centro Credit Bank and Credit Bank of Moscow have opened Special Rupee Vostro Accounts (SRVA) with partner banks in India. All major domestic banks have listed their nodal officers to sort out issues faced by exporters under the arrangement.

About the SRVA arrangement:

  1. vostro account is an account that domestic banks hold for foreign banks in the former’s domestic currency, in this case, the rupee.
  2. Domestic banks use it to provide international banking services to their clients who have global banking needs.
  3. It is an integral offshoot of correspondent banking that entails a bank (or an intermediary) to facilitate wire transfer, conduct business transactions, accept deposits and gather documents on behalf of the other bank.
  4. It helps domestic banks gain wider access to foreign financial markets and serve international clients without having to be physically present abroad.
  5. The SRVA is an additional arrangement to the existing system that uses freely convertible currencies and works as a complimentary system.

How does it function?

  1. The framework entails three important components, namely, invoicing, exchange rate and settlement.
  2. Invoicing entails, all exports and imports must be denominated and invoiced in INR.
  3. The exchange rate between the currencies of the trading partner countries would be market-determined.
  4. The final settlement also takes place in Indian National Rupee (INR).
  5. The authorised domestic dealer banks (those authorised to deal in foreign currencies) are required to open SRVA accounts for correspondent banks of the partner trading country.
  6. Domestic importers are required to make payment (in INR) into the SRVA account of the correspondent bank against the invoices for supply of goods or services from the overseas seller/supplier.
  7. Similarly, domestic exporters are to be paid the export proceeds (in INR) from the balances in the designated account of the correspondent bank of the partner country.
  8. All reporting of cross-border transactions are to be done in accordance with the extant guidelines under the Foreign Exchange Management Act (FEMA), 1999.

Eligibility criterion of banks:

  1. Banks from partner countries are required to approach an authorised domestic dealer bank for opening the SRVA.
  2. The domestic bank would then seek approval from the apex banking regulator providing details of the arrangement.
  3. It would be the responsibility of the domestic banks to ensure that the correspondent bank is not from a country mentioned in the updated Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Public Statement on High Risk & Non-Co-operative jurisdictions.
  4. Domestic banks must also put forth for perusal, financial parameters pertaining to the corresponding bank.
  5. Authorised banks can open multiple SRV accounts for different banks from the same country.

What is its purpose?

  1. The Economic Survey (2022-23) had argued that the framework could largely reduce the “net demand for foreign exchange, the U.S. dollar in particular, for the settlement of current account related trade flows”.
  2. It added that the framework would also reduce the need for holding foreign exchange reserves and dependence on foreign currencies, making the country less vulnerable to external shocks.
  3. Indian exporters could get advance payments in INR from overseas clients and in the long-term promote INR as an international currency once the rupee settlement mechanism gains traction, the survey argued.
  4. As per the Bureau for International (BIS) Settlements’ Triennial Central Bank Survey 2022, the U.S. dollar was the most dominant vehicle currency accounting for 88% of all trades. The INR accounted for 1.6%.


China’s peace proposal for Ukraine war

GS Paper - 2 (International Relations)

One year into Russia’s war against UkraineChina is offering a 12-point proposal to end the fighting. The proposal follows China’s recent announcement that it is trying to act as a mediator in the war that has re-energised Western alliance’s viewed by Beijing and Moscow as rivals.

What has China proposed?

  1. China’s proposal calls for a ceasefire and peace talks, and an end to Western sanctions against Russia.
  2. It says “relevant countries should stop abusing unilateral sanctions” and “do their share in de-escalating the Ukraine crisis.”
  3. It says sovereignty of all countries should be upheld, though it doesn’t specify what that would look like for Ukraine, and the land taken from it since Russia seized Crimea in 2014.
  4. The proposal condemns a “Cold War mentality,” a rebuke of the United States and NATO, the US -European military alliance.
  5. The security of a region should not be achieved by strengthening or expanding military blocs, the proposal says. Russian President Vladimir Putin demanded a promise that Ukraine will not join the bloc before the invasion.
  6. Other points call for a cease-firepeace talksprotection for prisoners of war and stopping attacks on civilians, keeping nuclear power plants safe and facilitating grain exports.