Friday, 30 December 2011

Please go 2011

Another year gone by. The new one is reckoning. With mesmerizing fireworks of Sydney Harbour world will welcome with colour & vigour 2012! Will leap year bring anything new for all of us? Well, that answer we will have on the 366th day i.e. December 31, 2012!

This is not a look back to 2011; end no. of articles will come on paper & TV to bifurcate the year 2011. Fear of Recession, hot debates on global warming, Anna’s action the fate of Lokpal , Sachin’s 100th ton & many more will be carried forward to the coming year too.

There are some events of 2011 which we would like to forget, and there are some which will be remembered for their brighter sides. So, no more discussions on the year that was, but the year through my eyes which might be very different from the general belief.
Personally I feel, this year was a very different for me. And If I have to balance, it’s a negative year, though in the long run the experience might end up as positive.

I have learnt some basic lessons and renewed some old ones. The first one is surely about trusting people. This is for sure, I won’t be able to trust anyone ever even if the person is really nice and wants good for me.

What are the lessons I have learnt in 2011?

-I must DELETE the word TRUST from my dictionary.

-I must not tell anything good/bad to anyone. Everything should be within me.

-If you are going through difficult times, many people will give you careful listening & later that would be the ingredients for juicy gossips.

-Social Activism, Citizen Journalism and many more are there to say that high & mighty not always win, but personally I know & believe, highly placed people always get the support even from the most unexpected quarters.

-If you want to fight against a person who is ‘someone’ in a given society, you have to fight ALONE.

-And above all WHO you trust is the Essential factor & I must admit I was wrong in almost all of my selections.

-Honesty, selflessness, diligence are some of the words which actually don’t exist anymore.

-Without evidence, even statements, a person can be pronounced guilty based on Assumption and prejudice only. The person must not be given any chance for self-defence. (Though Indian Legal System says something different- presumption of innocence or innocent until proven guilty, evidence, accused should get a chance to defend etc.)

And beliefs I have renewed? Those are quite a few in number.

-I am a Use & Throw object, sometimes recyclable

-Don’t keep any Expectation even from the closest friend/relative

-Self interest is the only factor in any given situation

-You have to be a good actor & diplomat if you want world beside you

-High degrees don’t make a person educated.

-I am a taken-for-granted creature

-‘Single’ means ‘available to all’ & married men are always ‘committed’ to their wives. Any problem arrives; single girl will be always ‘responsible’, even if she didn’t play any role in the problem!

-If you don’t compromise, you have to pay for that.

-“A person should not be too honest. Straight trees are cut first and honest people are screwed first."

There are many accusations against me, those are, I am selfish, I often forget those people who have helped me, and I always blame others for my own faults. I don’t know whether these are true for me, if so, I will try to change myself.

I don’t know whether there will be anything new in store for me in 2012.
I have a dream and will love to give a shape to that in the coming year. But as I believe ‘dream is a destination with a deadline’, so there is very little time left for me.

With lots of hopes and aspirations, I am welcoming you 2012 & a little expectation from you, I want to remember you as a positive year!! Frankly, I wish there wasn’t any year called 2011!!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Pen is Mightier...: The Journey of 50 years

Pen is Mightier...: The Journey of 50 years: Few survive, fewer sustain and the fewest can actually make the difference by leading from the front. IIM Calcutta is one such institute, w...

The Journey of 50 years

Few survive, fewer sustain and the fewest can actually make the difference by leading from the front. IIM Calcutta is one such institute, which has pioneered the concept of management education and is leading from the front. It has shown how to survive, grow, sustain and expand. Thus, the theme of the 50th Year celebration has been aptly chosen as ‘Sustainable Tomorrow.’
It’s that cherished moment again. Feelings of achievement, accomplishment and jubilation. IIM Calcutta, as it completes its 50th Year, encompasses all aspects of management education and promised to expand its horizon for coming 50 years.
Naturally, it’s a special moment for all its stakeholders. Students to Faculty, Officers to staffs- all belong to a family called IIM Calcutta. All of them have their own stories to tell. Some are good, some are not-so-good, some need to forget, and some must be treasured.
With the motto of ‘Jnanan Sarvahitaya’ (Knowledge for all), IIM-C has redefined the dimensions of management education. As IIM-C Community believes, it’s not a regular business school but a complete management education centre. It doesn’t explore the business needs only, but also brings forth the essentiality of public policy and ethical aspects of business decision making. So, it’s different and thus it sustained over 50 years as a winner in its field.
“We shall not cease from exploration and at the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time”- these words of T S Eliot is in complete tune with the journey called IIM Calcutta.
From host to guests, all have explored the various avenues of sustainability. An erudite Professor and the Chief Guest of the inaugural session Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam in his characteristically jovial manner delivered the key address on “Sustainability”, not only from the technological and environmental perspective, but also from the perspective of the management education. Over and again he focused on ‘Nobility & Management Education’ must go hand in hand. In course of his address, Dr. Kalam focused on three broad themes of Empowerment, Integrity & Leadership which are embedded in the notion of sustainability.
If one has to sustain, he has to be a good leader, this is what Prof. Kalam harped on and the essentiality for a good leader is vision, passion for accomplishment and ever-ready mentality to deal with the success & failure.
‘Empowering three billion people’ kept coming in his address and he has shown a very simple way for achieving that, ‘I can do… We can do & thus, Nation can do.’ To make it happen, two approaches can be taken, either the conventional method of top-down (the success will be limited) or the percolation method in a phased manner, but the need of the hour is ‘Out of the Box’ ideas which will initiate the process.

Sustainability cannot be perceived without integrity and leadership. For a sustainable world, Physical, Electronic and Knowledge Connectivity are needed, collectively it will be resulted in economic connectivity and in this phase Resource entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs will play a huge role.
Enterprises, Academic institutions and Entrepreneurs together will create Core Competency and competitiveness will come from economic development.
On the occasion of the completion of 50th year, he greeted IIMC by saying this is the first institute where Nehru’s vision and dream got a shape and now it has become a nodal centre for propagating the thoughts. He believes IIM-C with its student can maintain this leadership position. and he taught a new Mantra to IIMC students “I will work with integrity and succeed with integrity.”
Earlier, Dr. Sekhar Chaudhuri told, the theme of the Golden Jubilee is so because second phase of recession is already there and management education is at crossroads. So sustainability is the need of the hour. Mr. Ajit Balakrishnan drew the picture of 2061 i.e. how IIM-C would continue its leadership and sustain itself by providing consultancy services.
Luminaries like Dr. Himadri Pakrasi, Dr. Stuart Hart, Dr. Dipesh Chakrabarty, Dr. Paul Shrivastava, Mr. Juan Costa Climent have graced the occasion by sharing their thought in various panel discussions. From technology to energy, from economy to public policy- all of them have been discussed under the theme of sustainability and its quintessentiality.
Director’s conclave discussed and debated the future roadmap for management education and necessity to tie-up with other subjects and disciplines in order to make it more acceptable and sustain with ‘harmonious co-existence.’ Intellectual stimulus and innovation too are essential components for writing new success stories.
Not only stimulating debate and discussions over Management Education, but there were scintillating performances by Pandit Vishwamohan Bhatt and Shobhna Narayan. Cultural programmes by students too were mesmerising.
IIM-C didn’t forget anyone to embrace again. By felicitating the long serving employees-Faculty, staff and the alumni it has shown its concern for all. They also reminiscence about their august institute. Some walked down the memory lane.

Beautiful campus looked even more gorgeous with colourful lights. Definitely a moment of pride but it’s not the time for complacency. IIM Calcutta has established itself as a brand that has a global value… but the journey has just begun!
Next 50 years would be the bigger challenge as new economic order is about to set in and already in the horizon. Challenge will be bigger, competition will be tougher… but again, IIM Calcutta will sustain as a visionary leadership is there…

Continue to be on the winning streak!!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

My Moments with IIMC


It’s a lazy Sunday afternoon. After a long time, I got a Sunday which was minus the workload. In a way I was relaxed. As I was quietly spending this time with myself only, my mind started rewinding! And it’s IIMC only… campus, classes, invigilation, students, professors, colleagues and many others.

21st June 2009

First time ever I entered the campus of IIMC at the outskirt of the city. Though, didn’t take a stroll as I was there for a written test and an interview thereafter for the post of the TTA. Naturally very tensed, never ever thought of management, and my first tryst was with IIMC-citadel of management education. What I can roughly remember, I wrote the exam very bad (atleast that was not at all satisfactory to me), gave an interview which didn’t make me happy… so I was pretty sure that this day was my first as well as last day at IIMC…

7th July, 2009

It was drizzling. I was with my sister for her first ever class at college. It was a huge crowd outside as most of the parents or others accompanied their kids for the first day of their campus life. A phone call came from an unknown number, asking me whether I was at home. It was a call from a courier company to deliver an official letter, I asked him to leave the same with my father. Then the real surprise… as I opened the same after coming back, it was offer letter from the IIMC!! It was unbelievable… how could I be among the selected few!! History, Mass Comm, Media- nothing could make me a part of IIMC! I was so unhappy with my performance on 21st, how could professors like that…

8th July, 2009

I made my mind to accept the offer. That means I need to resign from ‘Anandabazar Patrika’ the paper where I was working as a sub editor for last three years. I told my boss about the development, he was not ready to let me go. I had a long discussion with him; he reluctantly accepted the resignation letter. Though I was enjoying the news, its fragrance, and its uncertainty until the last date…

18th August, 2009

After serving the stipulated time of notice period, I bade goodbye to ABP (though don’t know whether forever!!). It was a nice farewell and one of the touching moments of my life. I was such a junior, yet my boss and other colleagues (both seniors and juniors) made me feel so special… I don’t know whether I deserve that!

24th August, 2009

Finally, I joined IIMC as a TTA. So unsure about the job profile, colleagues and many other things. One of the major reasons, why I had joined the institute was to get opportunity to study. First day, as expected went in official work. Later, I was shown my office, which was my address for coming two years. All of my colleagues joined before me, so I was the last person to join. That time term I and IV were almost coming to an end, so for first few days I was jobless. Debarati (now an FP and one of my good friends ever), Deepshikha and Archana (both had left long before) were my first friends there, because of a very funny reason. All of us joined at a later date.
Initial days
There were only three PCs and 19 TTAs, so not even a scope of net surfing, twitting or face booking. That gave me an opportunity to know the campus…lush green compound, surrounded by trees, auditorium, Howrah Bridge, jetty-soon became part of my life. I simply loved the campus. Within few days I got my allotment list from PGP Office i.e. what were the courses I need to work with and who were the respective faculties. My allotment was in Communication and PPM group under three professors. One of them was veteran there; the other one too has spent a good no. of years at IIMC, and another one was very new, first time a course was offered.
Two of the professors asked me to attend the classes and one of them asked me to help him in academic works, but not to attend the classes. I started attending the classes, and the learning phase (both in terms of subjects and experience) began for me.

1st September, 2009

The first ever class I attended at IIMC and loved it, though the subject was completely alien to me. It was a PPM group paper taught by a very new professor. As it was a term V course, STEP students too were there, whose understanding of India’s regulatory environment was very different, thus created lot of fun and sometimes even confusion! Before this, I never attended any class with PPTs as I was a student of regular stream and chalk-duster was the mode of communication.

September 2009-June 2011

Work pressure kept mounting up, odd hour classes had been my regular routine, skipping lunch, running from Acad Block to NTB and MCHV to meet various faculties for academic purpose actually made me slimmer a bit :). I love challenges and can deliver on time even if there’s a huge workload, that might had been noticed, as the days and terms progressed, newer subjects came to me. I never had any term since December, 2009 less than five subjects and less than 14 classes a week!!
Still, I loved the job. It was a huge learning experience. Wrongly, I started feeling I am part of IIMC.(Why wrongly I would come later).
In between, for some reasons, a special bond had grown naturally with batch 46/16. Many of them started considering me as their friends and vice-versa, some of them sister. Many a times, I started spending my free time (which I barely got) with them in the campus. Parama, Drishya, Shelly, Amlan, Abhinav, Amit, Ankit and Shreyans to name a few with whom I was (and still am) in touch and close too. Though, getting ‘friendly’ with the students was seen badly by some and later a complaint was raised. But this much I can say with pride, they are real friends who stood by me thick and thin, which many of my ‘close’ and ‘near’ ones didn’t do.
Bonds are natural, that can’t be consciously made. So what I used to share with 46/16th batch, that was never the case with 47/17th or 48/18th. Though some of the students from 47th batch are my friends and I cannot forget the FPs with whom I spent quality time.

Special moments in Campus

I was lucky enough to attend IIMC’s Golden Jubilee celebration last year. As a part 50th year commemoration and Institute Lecture Series, I had the opportunity to hear Gov. of WB M K Narayanan, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, Comrade Sitaram Yechuri and other distinguished guests from different walks of life.
I am happy that whoever faculty I had worked under, almost all of them wished to have me as a TTA again in their courses. I cannot ask for more. This was indeed a proud moment for me. A non-MBA, general background student with no experience in any MBA curriculum could get such an acknowledgement from the faculties of IIMC was like dream come true.
I can still recount the words of a very senior faculty of PPM group, who introduced me to batch 48/18th in his compulsory class of IEPH as, “a young scholar who assists me... She has more power than me & would help you too if she has enough time''. How much this had boosted my confidence I cannot tell, but I surely know it was the greatness of the professor, I don't deserve so much... I am honoured. There were many such moments with some other faculties too.
There were not-so-happy moments too. Some faculties didn’t even feel to say a simple ‘thank you’ after the terms were over, though I didn’t give any lesser efforts in their subjects. Some of the faculties made ‘mountain of a molehill’on some insignificant issues, some felt ‘reluctant’ TTAs should go and many other things. All of these have been learning experiences for me. I realised, giving one’s best is not always the best to the person you are working for. It had given me the opportunity to better my performance.‘
Among many spots, I won’t forget library, staff canteen, Machan, coffee shops at Acad block and at NTB and SBI Joka. In last two years I was a frequent visitor to these places.

4th July, 2011

This was a special day for me, nothing to do with America’s Independence Day. I had learnt the single biggest lesson of my life on this date. Before this, I had paid for trusting people, but this was much bigger in its reach. I called myself a ‘Use and Throw’ object, this name was again proved perfect for me.

22nd August, 2011

Another date I won’t ever forget. Again I paid for my straightforwardness and not being diplomatic. This day had made me feel ‘I am nothing but a useless contractual staff, which would only listen and digest, must not reply back!!’ That very day I realised, time has come to say goodbye to this august institute and decided to leave as soon as possible.

15th September, 2011

I tendered my resignation to PGP Chairman. The decision was not easy to take as I didn’t have any alternative in hand and whatever I earn I have to support my family. I didn’t tell anyone about this as by then (thanks to some great people on campus) I had become unacceptable & unwanted to all, mostly to my colleagues. But news of my resignation had somehow spread, though no one asked me anything!! It had become an open secret.

10th October, 2011

I used to go to campus on my own in the morning. On this day, I deliberately didn’t take the private bus but availed the Office bus from Gol Park, just to feel little special. While entering, I read the signboard, (which is little hidden by the trees) very slowly ‘Indian Institute of Management Calcutta’. I loved this campus more than anything else. So entering there for the last time made me sentimental.
Some of the professors asked me to stay back when I went to meet them to bid adieu. That made me feels good as well as sad. Good because there are some faculties around, who had acknowledged my effort and wanted me in the campus and sad because, I knew it was not possible. I wanted to meet all of my faculties on my final day, but that was not possible, but as a token of gratitude card and e-mail reached to all.
Students of batch 47/17th and 48/18th wrote me on my departure. I was touched by their responses. Some of my colleagues (TTAs) too were there for me.
Before taking the bus in the evening, I took a stroll from Acad Block to MCHV, NTB, Audi, New hostels, Howrah Bridge. Clicked some photos of the beautiful campus. Unknowingly, a drop of tear or two rolling down and I suddenly recalled 21st June, 2009; that day I came alone, in between 2 years 3 month, when I left, I was alone too.


IIMC is a great place to be in. I just want to remember the pleasant moments, because bad moments always get a permanent seat in one’s mind.

I cannot forget the colourful campus of winter with various flowers unwinding their petals, the divine rain which made the campus romantic and more lovable, those reptiles especially the snakes, with whom I had an uncommon friendship, school of fish on the upper layer of the water, chirping of the birds in the evening and L1, L2, L3, L4, small lecture halls at Acad block and NAB during the classes and invigilation. But more importantly IIMC as a whole- one soul called among so much diversity.

My best wishes will be always with you, may you celebrate 500 years of excellence in education like you are doing in your 50th Year. I am thankful to you that you had given me the chance to be with you for more than two years.

My biggest achievement I guess is students love me and at least some of the professors think me of a good TTA. A teaching associate cannot ask for more!

Cheers and Hats off!!

Monday, 22 August 2011

The Blue Turban

A technocrat in his famous blue turban has done everything what was expected from him. From scope of Management education to Economic Reforms, Double dip in world economy to India’s success story- he touched upon all aspects and cleverly referred Lokpal Bill as ‘a topic of discussion’ under the broader spectrum of governance failure! Politician in him compelled him to say some words on Bengal politics too.
Yes, for the first time ever the Prime Minister of India, Dr. Manmohan Singh has graced the IIM Calcutta’s campus at Joka to deliver the Golden Jubilee speech of the institute. West Bengal Governor Mr. M K Narayanan and West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee were his companions in the programme. He started his campus touring by planting a sapling. Then straight into the auditorium where guests, faculty, students and staffs were waiting to listen to him.
Nothing ‘unpredictable’ happened in this campus unlike IIT Kharagpur where he went later for the Convocation and students protested before him in support of Anna Hazare and his demands for Jan Lokpal Bill. IIMC was a fort with police and security personnel were busy maintaining the PM’s security!
As expected, the Lokpal Bill controversy has taken a backseat amongst this august audience. He brought the reference of Corruption under governance failure issue, where he touched upon the danger of inefficiency and Cronyism if ‘aam aadmi’ is forced to pay bribes to government agencies. He brought back the memory of Licence Raj and wide spread corruption related to that. Abolition of the same has helped in curbing the unfair practices.
But the name which he carefully avoided is Anna Hazare, the man who has shaken the conscience of the nation. His campaigns, not even for a fraction of seconds found any direct mention in the speech. Rather he welcomed debate on Lokpal Bill inside the Parliament! And those who have (read Anna Hazare) different views must send their representatives to the House to discuss. The underneath message was that Ramlila Maidan is not a suitable place for this. Black money, pending reforms of judiciary all were present when he was telling ‘government is open to discussion for Lokpal Bill, which is now with the Standing Committee.’
He was never an orator, rather he always reads out the rehearsed scripts with his scholarly approach. This time too, there was no exception. Shades of Economist Manmohan Singh came out over and again in his speech. He took silent pride in the fact that twenty years back he advocated and brought in Macro Economic Reforms which is till date yielding ‘great results’ in market economy. That time a controversial step actually had shown India a positive side of growth path by widening the way for more capital investments in form of Foreign Direct Investment, Merger & Acquisition etc.
PM rightly made the audience think the positive side of Japan, Korea and Chinese successes of economic prosperity. As this is an ‘Asian Century’ so this is a high time to think beyond Dollars and Euros, but never write them off. He is confident that India will achieve the objective of sustainable inclusive growth at the 9% rate, though in this year it is a bit slow!
But the real show stealer is Mamata. At her original and spontaneous best she said, “IIMC is first national institute of Bengal (sic)! IIMC was founded on 14th November, 1961. This is not only an asset but foundation of India. Tomorrow is in your hand for its students and research programmes.” This is not a big mistake on CM’s part that Kolkata is proud of Calcutta University (1857) and Jadavpur University (1905) which she has forgotten to mention. In her style, which is known as ‘didism’ she gave back the shawl to a student which was presented to CM as a memento! Clapping continued till the end!
Again to the PM. What was his message to the students, he requested all the future managers to maintain transparency in decision making. He focused on the fact that for IIMC only Kolkata is on the global management map! He fondly recalled the achievements of IIMC alumnus Indra Nooyi in business circuit and Malli Mastan Babu in mountaineering! They would inspire and encourage the future managers what he strongly believes.
Mamata on stage and nothing political about it, how could that be? Dr. Singh emphasized on the fact the ‘lost glory of Kolkata must be reclaimed’ as change of regime has taken place recently. He said that, there were times when Kolkata was known for its creativity and a thriving learning centre. Time has come to rejuvenate West Bengal polity, economy and human endeavours!!
But what was completely remained untouched that how could policy reforms initiate the change in social reforms and when reforms would be seen from a multi dimensional angle, rather than treating it as an economic & financial explanation! Why the government is so busy with 9% growth rate when 40% of the population doesn’t get full square mill every day? I believe too much focus on reforms actually widened the gulf between rich and poor. If poverty is not eradicated, how could India become the numero uno contributor for Asian Century?
The man who is known as ‘the honest’ person of Indian politics is unfortunately nicknamed as ‘Manmohan Singh Ghotala’, thanks to series of scans. Had he been more transparent on the Jan Lokpal Bill today, that might have given him certain edge, though this is what I personally believe.

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

The Close(d) Chapter

A confession.
Several explanations.
Pleading. Repenting. Crying.
A second thought before taking the final call. It could have been a different story, but forgiving is the best human virtue and the same was done.
This is just the prelude.

The second part is about forgetting. Long back, in a school text there was a piece called “The Forgetting”. The hilarious article catered around why forgetting is a good exercise and the best medicine for human brain. But in reality, one cannot forget everything even if one wishes to.
Many-a-times it happens that an apparently forgotten past becomes alive in the present context; things that were “conveniently forgotten” start occupying a significant space in different circuits under the title of ‘defamation’ and ‘mudslinging’.
Let us see some instances of slander and insult.
• Suggestions to modify the course content and inclusion of certain elements in order to make the subject more lively and enjoyable is considered to be a tool for “defamation”.

• “If there is no politics around, I think you will be the first beneficiary of it”- these words signify, not the belief of a person in somebody’s abilities, but his/her ulterior motive of maligning someone.

• Predicting almost the accurate feedback of a person, based on the observation of what that person is capable of doing, earns the predictor the title of ‘Octopaul’. However, later on as things take a turn, even the congratulatory messages start to be considered as a means to “pull him down” from his popularity.

• The one who listened to and followed the advice of a person in case of any difficulties has been called “two sides of the same coin”. Ironically, it was the same “coin” who categorically stated, ‘NO, THIS CANNOT BE… YOU ARE MAKING A HUGE MISTAKE’, when a nasty allegation against the same individual was raised by mystery phone call. However, the defender was held responsible for it later.

• A request for translating a text in the regional language to English is turned down because of one’s inability to read the native language. But the irony is, the person is most fluent in that language and has a command over the same.

• Several phone calls, sms, chats, e-mails and endless conversations were forgotten by both the people concerned. Likewise, presenting a ‘certificate’ to show gratitude towards the “most deserving” individual on a special day, has been easily forgotten by the addressed, and has been termed as mud-slinging.

• Social Networking is the best invention of 21st century to connect with people. But giving excuses regarding certain “technical difficulties” which cannot be solved from abroad, and thereby rejecting a friend request even after asking to send one was too insulting a circumstance to be forgotten, but the sender had to forget it for bigger professional interests; it was clearly demarcated that a non-branded object cannot find its place among the established brands; that would deface the bigger brands! Another big issue cropped up when a webpage was found in the name of a particular person. However, nothing malicious was written there and surprisingly, the person who reported it, was blamed to have created the page!

• There are certain talks for talk’s sake; Promises of foreign chocolates, treats etc. were forgotten as soon as they were made. It was evident that they were simply some casual words. A ‘mercenary’ can never share the same platform as the General. No General would devalue his status for an inferior, incompetent mercenary soldier

• A discovery was made, that even the official mails could be fake as no one ever ‘choosed’ a particular individual for any professional assistance, although evidences hint otherwise. And surprisingly enough, that particular individual continued to assist till ‘the relieving order’ came. Although, decision of ‘relieving’ was taken much earlier, the assistance was sought till the last moment without revealing the actual fact. Yet, the person was called ‘reluctant.’

This could be called a learning experience, the essential lessons being innumerable. Rediscovering one’s self was probably the most significant one. This could reveal the unknown mischieves, uncover the hidden malice in one’s self and make one aware of the degree of ‘immorality’, ‘credibility’ and ‘professionalism’.

It is very generous of the person to have allowed such an immoral individual to learn so many things, in spite of knowing the malicious intentions right from the beginning. Yet the incident is a ‘closed chapter and a small one’. But, this ‘Closed Chapter’ lingers on in the sub conscious mind and cannot be forgotten ever.This could continue to be a permanent tag with a particular place.

Everyone says ‘time is a great healer’, however, time can only help people get used to the wounds instead of healing them. Many-a-times a ‘Closed Chapter’ becomes a CLOSE CHAPTER.

Yes, this is indeed a CLOSE(D) CHAPTER.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Hats Off Prof. Sreenivasan

Veni Vidi Vici- ‘I came, I saw, I conquered’. Prof. Sree Sreenivasan could well make it his tagline for his USIS lecture on Social Networking! As a participant, I found his talk no less than mesmerizing.
On 19th July, 2011 American Centre, Kolkata has arranged a session with Columbia University Professor and Dean Dr. Sreenivasan. The discussion was centering on how social networks actually could play a role in democracy.
In recent past, we have seen some popular uprising in Middle East and Egypt, which are popularly referred to as twitter or Facebook revolution. Professor interacted on this in a very lively manner, though the title of the discussion was ‘New Media: Defining Democracy’ but it was never so limited in discussion. In a lively manner, professor through his wonderful presentation took us to the universe of the social networking. What are the countries that are hooked into this, what’s the latest trend in this, can an individual stay really aloof from social networking in present day scenario etc.
In India, I can bet that no institution can ever think of having a lecture period on Facebook, Orkut, Twitter or Google Plus. But Prof. Sreenivasan has been doing this in the Columbia School of Journalism for past few years. Actually, he encourages students on getting into social networking so that actually it ‘ruins their interest’ in it!
Time to time there was snap polls that how many in the audience actually know how to connect on linkedin and twiiter and some other interesting stuffs. The response was really surprising, most of us really don’t know the mechanism of those sites. Large number of school students were present and they made the programme very lively with their continuous participation.
In the course of the discussions, good, bad and the ugly side of the social networking has been focused upon. The renowned digital media from USA emphasized the need for social media practices that balances in perfect tune on & off line status.
How did the professor himself be part of Facebook? That’s co-incidentally a Kolkata connection. He glued into the ‘Scrabulous’ (online Scrabble) – popular game on Facebook, much before Farmville and Mafia became everyone’s darling! It has been developed by St Xavier’s College alumni Jayant and Rajat Agarwala, that attracted him to join it. Though in this city of warmth, this is Professor’s first visit!
In the lively Q&A session, moderated by veteran journalist Snehasis Sur, so many interesting questions came up. One of them was how far face book ‘revolution’ or ‘peace initiative’ can yield result? Isn’t profanity a common practice on the social media platform?
Isn’t social media making us ‘unsocial’ too? He considered the scenario as ‘glass half filled’. He told, “My family is in four countries, so it’s the best platform to keep in touch with each other.” Humorously enough, how so many eyebrows were raised when his FB friends saw he (Prof. Sreenivasan) is now friend with his mother-in-law! But he himself has taken a tough challenge that how for another 5 years he would keep away his kids away from this networking world. His twins will reach teen then.
Though he is for social networking, but he never encouraged fake accounts on networking sites. To keep inquisitive parents and curious cousins at bay, he advocated a real name culture. In his words, “You should have only one account on any social website because then you will be more real. It won’t be a case of split personality…”
He was introduced to us by Acting USA Consul General in Kolkata Clinton S “Tad” Brown as a person who teaches facebook and orkut (In India many would lose their consciousness after knowing this) but the most skeptic of the same. And all I can say the ‘City of Joy’ welcomed him with his skepticism & mastery.
Professor, waiting eagerly to meet you again…
Welcome back to ‘Coolcutta’!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Cyclone: The story of an Individual

Assumption & Prejudice are two deadly words in the English Dictionary. Actually this is what I believe. If a person’s act is driven by assumption and prejudice that cannot be good for anyone.
Just to share, I used to know a person who was in colloquial term can easily be tagged as ‘metro sexual.’ I was pretty open with him almost in every sort of discussions, but that can cause some heart burn in some other places, I never ever even think of. Not even once.
But my inability to understand certain indication of brewing storm actually resulted in a hurricane. Or should I call it a cyclone? Hurricane has a shorter life span than cyclone, so am attributing this as a cyclone.
Why it’s a cyclone? Because it has a far-reaching effect, the immense casualty, massive destruction and recovery (if at all) would take a long time and above all the people who are in face of it (here it’s in a singular term) is Helpless. So I am not finding much difference between the natural cyclone caused by the movement of the wind and the man-made cyclone caused by the movement of certain communication tools!
And this cyclone is based on Assumption & Prejudice. The assumption was that a particular person favours a particular person over others and the very assumption is based on prejudice of a third person. Deadly combination of this prejudice and assumption actually destroyed a firm base of professionalism & healthy working condition.
This is not like actual cyclone that after the rebuilding everything will fade away from memory, but actually this has a huge after effect: THIS CANNOT BE REBUILT. It would definitely fade away from memory of certain individuals who are not directly or indirectly hit in this, but the person who faced 4-fold attack from different direction, for that individual, this would probably continue to stay as ‘The MEMORY’ of a certain place.
Cyclone cannot do any good to anybody, but here the case is slightly different… It actually benefitted all other than an ill-fated individual, who is still in process to find out why of things!!

Monday, 13 June 2011

Result Out: One Month On...

This is exactly a month since the results of the assembly elections were declared. Some were expected, some were not… In short there was not much surprise in the result! But the results were enough to supply some food for thought, both politically and in general course.
Let see the political picture first.
One may argue that the change of guard in West Bengal is a complete shocker. No it’s not! In 2009, ‘Change’ was seen in respect of vote share. That has multiplied manifold in another two years. West Bengal was going green was anybody’s guess.
34 years is a long time in democratic politics. Consecutive 7 win for the left in this state had actually made them over confident and more importantly complacent. They started moving away from the grassroot and certain hasty steps in land acquisition etc. made them answerable to the mass. ‘Opposition’ led by now-CM Mamata Banerjee didn’t keep any stone unturned to make the Left sit in the opposition!
But here lies the actual surprise. Though Left was routed in Bengal, still it has 41% vote share! After 34 years, managing 41% vote is a difficult task. As some are assuming, Left cannot come back, that might not be true at all. One week is a long time in politics, so 5 years like a light year. Mamata has already started with a faux pas in bringing the Singur Ordinance… So Left will wait for some opportunities to come and encash on the same.
Left has lost Kerala by a whisker. UDF has managed to get 11 lakhs vote more than the LDF. Only 0.89% swing in favour of UDF brought them to power. Kerala didn’t give any mandate for any particular party. The moral victory is for the Left as CPIM is still the biggest party in the Kerala Assembly.
Kerala & WB has played as eye openers to some of the political thought leaders. Elections can’t be won if the party disassociates itself from the mass. ‘Taken for granted’ is a not acceptable by the electorates. Plan the future based on the reality. These are the lessons for the Left in Bengal, whereas Kerala has proved that able and robust leadership coupled with inclusive growth is key to the success.
In the grassroot level, some unwanted people have registered as ‘primary member’ of CPIM. They are nothing but opportunist, the force which want to earn some benefits by using the party name. They should be thrown out in order to make the party more disciplined.
CPIM General secretary Prakash Karat denied any need for leadership change, But I feel that must be started from the top and filtered down the same thereafter. Theorists like Karat cannot win election on its own!! The left must go back to the basic now and understand the realities beyond ‘Das Capital’ & ‘Communist Manifesto!’
Other Southern state Tamil Nadu has given a strong mandate against corruption. The most dangerous social ailments have been rampant in that state. By throwing away DMK (gripped withy 2G Scams), Tamil Nadu wanted a government free from corruption. But the question is how far AIADMK led by Jayalalitha can deliver the same, only time will say! Kerala too has paraded with VS in corruption issues, which almost made them win the election.
Assam & Pondicherry didn’t make anyone surprised. The Only thing with the Assam win, Gogoi-led Congress managed to be in power consecutive for third term, which might help UPA in centre to resolve complicated north-east trouble.
If we analyse the impact of these election in the national context, it is heartening for the UPA. But winning 2014 won’t be easy as Corruption, Price rise and some other core issues are huge concern for the general public. Inclusive growth with equity is the key for any political party with real developmental agenda.

Monday, 6 June 2011

Two Sisters: Winning Streak of Indian Business

India is the most preferred investment destination for last few years for its conducive environment. Many consider 1991 was a watershed year in Indian economic history. Macro economic reforms measure taken by Dr. Manmohan Singh, the-then Finance Minister of Narsimha Rao government, lift the barriers for the foreign investment in India & as thought of Indian economy took a massive turn thereafter.
India is preferred destination for investment for its political stability, natural resources, a large no. of English speaking population, well regulated financial market and tested legal system and above all investor-friendly attitude of the government. Some statistics might help in understanding the same. Cumulative amount of FDI inflows into India from 2000-2011 is
US$ 1, 94,814 million & amount of investment in 2010-11 is US$ 19,427, though it’s a decline from 2009-10 where the invested amount was US$ 25,834. (FACT SHEET ON FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT From AUGUST 1991 to MARCH 2011 of DIPP)

Countries like USA, UK, Netherlands, Japan, Germany, Singapore, Mauritius, France etc. didn’t waste much time to grab the opportunity to tap the potential market in India. As there were (are) several sectoral caps in the foreign direct investment, most of the initial investment was in form of Joint Ventures. With regular changes in FDI norms, nature of investment too has changed. Still, most preferred route for investment in the potential market is Joint Venture.
To substantiate this fact, we might refer to two cases of recent past; yes, you have rightly guessed, those are:-
‘Cairn-Vedanta deal caught in regulatory hurdles’
‘RIL-BP has struck the biggest ever JV in the context of foreign investment & production sharing’
Let’s see the present legal nitty-gritty of doing business in India by examining these two cases.
Cairn-Vedanta Deal
Vedanta Resources wants to buy a 51% controlling stake in Cairn India for $8.5 billion. Vedanta Resources is in talks with Cairn Energy, which has a 62.4% stake in Cairn India, to buy a controlling stake in the unit. Till date, Cairn-Vedanta deal has not been cleared. As one of the JV partners of Cairn India, ONGC has objected the deal and raised the issue of Royalty payment. It has approached the government not to give ‘go-ahead’ to London-listed Vedanta Resources’ $9.6 billion acquisition of Cairn India until the issue of excess royalty it pays on Rajasthan crude oil is sorted out. Government too has upheld ONGC’s stand and it said, ONGC’s consent is required to sell its majority stake in Cairn India to Vedanta Resources. Earlier, the petroleum ministry was ready to give “in-principle” approval for Vedanta provided 11 preconditions were met. Cairn India is the operator of the Rajasthan block with a 70% participating interest and its joint venture (JV) partner ONGC has a 30% participating interest.
A 50:50 joint venture formed by the RIL-BP for sourcing and marketing gas in India, taking the overall investment in the partnership to $20 billion or Rs 90,000 crore. BP is taking a 30% stake in 23 RIL-operated PSCs in India, including the offshore producing KG D6 block. This is the single-largest foreign direct investment (FDI) flow into India ever and a multi-year commitment. Valuation was justified with analysts having valued RIL’s upstream business at around $30 billion implying $9 billion for a 30% stake.
So, what is a Joint Venture (JV)? Why it’s so important, what’s the purpose behind a JV?
JV as the name suggests is an arrangement between two or more companies either for long term or for completion of a specific project. This is a symbiotic business association whereby the complimentary resources of the partners are mutually shared and put to use. This could be equity-based or contractual. It might be a new business or an existing business which is expected to get benefit from the new partner.
Overall, it is an effective business strategy for enhancing marketing, positioning and client acquisition. The alliance can be a formal contractual agreement or an informal understanding between the parties.

Joint Ventures include Leveraging Resources, Exploiting Capabilities and Expertise, Sharing Liabilities, Market Access & Flexible Business Diversification.
JVs may be classified as equity and contractual JV. An equity JV is an arrangement whereby a separate legal entity is created in accordance with the agreement of two or more parties like in case of RIL-BP. Most common form of Equity JV is 74:26, 51:49 & 50:50, though other forms too are present. Among these 50:50 JV is most dangerous as no single company can pass any resolution without the help of the other partner. In other two cases resolutions can be passed in much easier way. Recently, by issuing a Press Note, government has removed the condition of prior approval in case of existing joint ventures/ technical collaborations in the "same field" for the foreign partners.
The contractual JV is mostly for a limited period where creation of separate legal entity is not needed or feasible. This kind of JV is seen in the areas like:-
• Technology transfer agreements
• Joint product development
• Purchasing agreements
• Distribution agreements
• Marketing and promotional collaboration
• Intellectual advice
• Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) arrangements

In both the above mentioned case, it is equity-based partnership. Unlike RIL-BP deal, Vedanta-Cairn stake sale is facing so much regulatory hurdles as the issue of controlling stake is there. According to SSPA (Share Sale & Purchasing Agreement), acquisition doesn’t need any approval per se. The acquired entity maintains its individuality. But, once a company wants to buy out more than 50% of the equity stake in the target company, it involves a change in the management and control of the company. In the Cairn-Vedanta case, this is exactly the regulatory hurdle. Vedanta wants to 51% controlling stake in Cairn India where change of management is evident.
The terms and conditions on which acquisition takes place are generally Mutual negotiation between the parties without any intervention of the court or other regulator. However if the target company is a listed company, then provisions of the Securities Contract Act, Take Over Code of SEBI etc. may apply in some cases as in Cairn-Vedanta ongoing saga.

Though, Cairn had claimed that its deal with Vedanta was a corporate transaction and not a transfer of stake. So, did not require the permission of government, but reluctantly agreed to it. Moreover, the application did not recognise the rights of partner ONGC. SEBI is yet to give nod on the proposed open offer by the company.
Analysts said the two deals (RIL-BP and Cairn-Vedanta) were completely different. In Reliance, the Indian company was selling a significant minority stake; Reliance will remain in charge of operations and retain a majority stake. On the other hand, Cairn-Vedanta would have involved a transfer of ownership. Besides, the Cairn-Vedanta $9.6-billion deal was a transaction between two London-listed companies and the money would not come into India. The RIL-BP deal, in contrast, will be the single-largest foreign direct investment. Also, there was no company to pre-empt the deal as was the case with ONGC in Cairn.
RIL-BP is important from foreign investment perspective too. Generally, a proposal for joint venture with foreign equity, does not require any approval if it conforms to the industry / product classification and foreign equity limit. But the JVs, which are not satisfying those clauses, fall under the approval route.

Foreign companies come to India as an incorporated entity by floating a company under the Companies Act, 1956 through Joint Ventures or Wholly Owned Subsidiaries. In this case BP requires government nod as it’s a 50-50 JV. According to existing norm, more than 49% investment by a foreign company needs prior approval of FIPB. But RIL doesn’t need any clearance as it is selling only 30% stake to BP & there is no change in management.

Presently there are two ways to invest in India. Those are:-
Automatic Route
Approval Route
Foreign Investment notification is issued by Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) by issuing Press Note annually.

Regardless of the 2 routes, FDI caps for certain sectors are needed to address two main concerns: (i) protection of national security interests (e.g. telecom/broadcasting), and (ii) protection of certain segments of Indian industry and/or Indian consumers (retail/ real estate). Recently 51% investment in multi brand retail is permitted.

FDI is prohibited under Automatic as well as Approval Route for the following sectors:
• Atomic Energy
• Lottery Business including Government /private & online lotteries etc.
• Gambling and Betting
• Agriculture and Plantations (Other than Tea plantations etc;)
• Nidhi company
• Trading in Transferable Development Rights (TDRs)
• Real Estate Business or Construction of Farm Houses

Thus, from the above analysis we can see there is a close connection between the FDI & JV. Companies are exploring Indian market mostly by strategic alliance in form of a JV, where sectoral caps of FDI is taken care of. Vedanta-Cairn cannot discourage other investors as this single case actually involves almost all legal implications. India thus will continue to be the heart of partnership business, be it foreign or domestic.

The Economic Times
The Hindu Business Line
The Business Standard
The Mint (for JV Information)
Website of DIPP
Website of RBI
Website of RIL
Website of BP
Website of Cairn India
Website of Vedanta Resource
Website of ONGC

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

An Open Letter to Mr. Jairam Ramesh

Mr. Jairam Ramesh,
I sincerely believe that when you have doubted the ‘class’ of IIT and IIM faculties, you never meant to reflect the same sentiment of your former cabinet colleague Dr. Shashi Tharoor of ‘Cattle Class’ fame. You wanted to say something which can bring back the focus on you, so you chose two best public funded institutes if the state. Naturally, media is again showing you and running after you. You have successfully reached your target. Congrats.
Now let me say something about your 'class' comment.
Being an IIT alumnus you must know that institutes like IITs & IIMs have been established for a definite purpose. Over the years both these centres of excellence have proved its worth and made a mark in world platform & still counting. Their fame is not only for the students, but for the teachers too.
More importantly, if an institute is capable of producing ‘world class students’ I think their faculty members have to have the capability of nurturing the future world figures. If these talents are not shown the perfect way of unfolding their petals, they won’t even earn a name in India, leave aside world! Bright & the brilliants come to the IIMs and the IITs. Through a very tough selection procedure they made it to these august institutions and (surprisingly enough) the faculty of these institutes only select them!! These future world class students actually know the standard of the faculty as well as the institutes, so they choose these places! Do you think Mr. Minister, a student who aspires to be a world leader would chose a ‘below standard’ faculty as his/her mentor? I think, you know that teaching the brightest and the best is one of the most challenging jobs for a faculty. ‘Inept’ teachers cannot produce world class students, isn’t it so? What’s your take Mr. Minister?
I am associated with Indian Institute of Management Calcutta as a Trainee Teaching Associate. For the professional purpose I have the opportunity to work very closely withy many faculty members of this institute, both seniors and juniors. In almost all the cases I found, they are engaged in research works of very innovative kind or developing a new model. I would rather say, it’s really difficult to find them in campus as they always get invitations to attend various programmes worldwide. Actually ’world’ waits for them to get a pie of their knowledge and experience! Do you really call these faculties ‘incompetent’ in the world platform, Mr. Minister? Unlike the ‘world class’ institutes, students of IITs engage in project works which has long term sustainability and effectiveness. If you don’t believe ne, please do a Google search, you will get the list.
As you know Mr. Minister, India is different from world in many aspects. India still carries the tag of having a substantial percentage of people who don’t get a full square meal regularly. Primary education system is limping. Little number of students comes for higher education and a tiny percentage to IIMs and IITs. Still, India is proud of scientific research, management development, grassroots innovation, student entrepreneurship and many more. So why do IIM faculties need to follow the world model for attaining the status of ‘world class’ performer? If they think of India and research takes that specific direction, where’s the problem? Why does India need the approval of the West to prove its Excellence? Would you kindly explain this, Mr. Minister?
At the end, I want to say that there is always scope for improvement. IITs and IIMs are undoubtedly the best of the institutions and they boast of their faculty and students. But at the same time, complacency must not kill the scope for future development and innovations. Everywhere, be it ‘India’ or ‘World’ there are some people who might not be’ that good’, but experience says, peer pressure transforms them for better. Who knows, one day ‘world’ might adjudge its ‘class’ comparing their performance with the IIMs and IITs? What’s your take on this Mr. Minister?
Anwesha Banerjee
TTA, IIM Calcutta
PS: Congress party seems to have a problem in ‘class’ structure. First it was ‘cattle classes, then ‘world class’. I think the party needs a ‘class’ of its own!!

Thursday, 19 May 2011

Friday the 13th: The ‘Red’ letter day

The Great Fall.
The longest running Communist government in a state has had its end on Friday, the 13th. This might not be as suspense thriller as the Hollywood blockbuster is, but it’s no less than a roller coaster saga for the Left as well as Mamata Banerjee!!
This is very much a predictable result. Opinion Polls and Exit polls have already given almost the same numbers as what the TMC Alliance and Left have got. So, that it would be ‘Left’s poll for exit’ was assumed. Officially though, run up for this moment has begun 2 years back. First phase of ‘Paribartan’ was seen in Loksabha election of 2009. Civic body elections too didn’t give any scope to stimulate confidence in CPIM. For mishandling of Singur, Nandigram and to some extent Rizwanur Rahaman death case, the war cry for ‘Change’ had gradually acquired a strong support base. And the Tsunami called ‘Paribartan’ indeed has washed away the Left even from their traditional strongholds.
The mandate is clear. Bengal has not only voted against the Left but also for the TMC-Congress alliance. Had it been only negative votes, alliance couldn’t have got 2/3rd majority with almost all the standing ministers losing including the CM Budhhadeb Bhattacharya. Alliance was successful enough to convince people that why they should vote for them. Moreover CPIM has continuously lost contact with the grassroot level. Almost three and a half decades in power made them overconfident. By the time they started taking the ‘corrective’ measures, it was already very late. And the ‘Mamata’ factor... In my previous articles (‘Winds of Change’ & ‘Paint it Green’) I have already talked about her: from whimsical to mature, how she transformed herself. Why people have started to see her as the best alternative to Left. With ‘never-say-no’ mentality she actually brought Jasmine Revolution here.
It is learnt from the CSDS survey that richest and the poorest have voted for the agent of change i.e. Didi. Why is it so? Just rewind a bit. Many believe that Higher Education & Industry was destroyed by CPIM. No English education in the Primary Level too has angered the rich & the urban upper middle class. On the other hand, ‘CPIM is taking away land from the poor’ the clever campaign by TMC was enough to make their mind change. They had the ready reference of Nandigram-Singur-Lalgarh.
Many Left sympathizers left heartbroken, the Rightist supporters are falling short of words. Expectation from the new government is enormous. Now, they want to see the actual ‘Change’ as promised in the manifesto. It can be surely said that people won’t wait another 34 years to witness change.
Mamata, by dedicating this victory to ‘Ma-Mati-Manush’ has told that this is the ‘second independence of Bengal.’ Pranab Mukherjee has already promised her a special package for Bengal for economic reconstruction as WB in debt-trap. The other challenge would be how she resolves the on-going ‘Hill’ problems and ‘jangalmahal’ and Maoist insurgency. With the ‘temporary’ end of the Communist era in Bengal, this time industrialists might be surer to invest here. Didi has announced to bring reforms in law and order, education, health and in other sectors. But the first & foremost challenge is definitely to maintain peace everywhere. Rural Bengal has bled long in vendetta politics. This should stop at once. It must be ensured that no one is without shelter in fear of being killed by the political enemies. I hope here it won’t be the beginning of Tamil Nadu way of politics where government and opposition always target each other. I wish CPIM will play the role of a Constructive opposition and won’t protest all the policies of new government like last 34 years opposition did.
State-Centre relation in Bengal too would change now. Predictably, centre will shed off its hostility towards this state. UPA II government has got enough boosters in the just-concluded assembly elections. Other than Tamil Nadu, they have performed well. Though they have won in Kerala by a whisker.
As the biggest ally of the UPA II, Mamata has so long opposed new land acquisition bill, pension bill and some other important bills. As soon as mandate was for her, she told a television channel that she wants new land policy. It is learnt, the bill is due to pass in the next session of the Parliament. Now whether she takes the same stand in these bills, would be a continuing focus. As of now centre won’t go against much of her will, as, if her party withdraws support, UPA II will be in big trouble. In West Bengal TMC has got absolute majority, so they don’t need Congress at all to run the government. Loksabha election is another 3 years away, so Congress has time, so they might adopt ‘Go slow’ policy in these contentious issues.
What is the road ahead for CPIM? As some are saying, is this really the end of Communism in India? I think, no. CPIM has lost contact with people and real issues related to the poor. They have got 5 years of time to go back to the basics from where they had begun. In the grass root level there are corruptions, nepotism and ‘brigades of opportunist members’, this practice must be put to an end. In order to channelize energy and confidence among the party members, CPIM has to start afresh. The Left here has already realised that there were huge percentage of negative voting for them. They have lost 7% of their dedicated vote-bank, whereas TMC has gained 19%. People have the ultimate authority to reject and select, so they have to find out why the electorates don’t want them any more. Organisational capability is not everything.
I believe, the biggest problem for CPIM is the disjunction between the Politbureau and the general mass. Politbureau decision is not always in consistency with the ground realities. Some are merely theoretical. Now Prakash Karats must learn from V S Achuthanandans. Hats off to the octogenarian for his efforts, he has almost done it in Kerala. Many are saying in Kerala, LDF has achieved a moral victory.
However, ‘Change’ is constant in democratic politics. Everywhere in the world and in India there is change of guard in elections. Because West Bengal was an exception, the change has resulted in so much of discussions, celebration, and frenzy.
Getting elected consecutively for 7 terms is history from all aspects. Long term in power always has a negative angle. It gives a certain contentment on the part of the government that the incumbent doesn’t have any alternative and whatever they are doing is good for the people. Electorates are taken for granted.
I belong to that generation who hasn’t seen any other government other than the Left front in my state. I was born when they were already in their second term. So we also don’t know what Green Revolution can bring to us. We have heard the ‘reign of terror’ by Sidhhartha Sankar Ray government from ’72-’77, we have not seen that. So veterans fear the repeating of that dark history.
But I am optimistic, after all Bengal is getting her first woman Chief Minister!! My only scepticism lies in the fact that if Didi remains current version of herself, we will see ‘dictatorship’ of ‘Durga in a crumpled Sari’!! Hope floats, ‘Paribartan’ might be seen in didi too...!!

Friday, 8 April 2011

8th April- a day to remember

Today i.e. 8th April, 2011 is a very special day. Last year on this date I made a promise to myself. I would observe some people for a year to find out whether I am right in believing that I am merely a ‘use and throw’ or to some extent a ‘recyclable’ object!! & just after a year I am surprised to see that I was very correct.
In last one year so many things happened-good, bad and the ugly. But my position didn’t change. Last April I got a call (which is very rare) from a ‘very close’ friend to know his story of achievement. Later, I realized, it was to prove that even if we start from the same point, only intelligent & meritorious people emerge as triumphant!! After that call, I was simply rewinding and found since the beginning of his journey I have contributed too whenever needed!! Though, predictably, no acknowledgment was there. I didn’t even care as I believe friendship doesn’t ask for such minor details.
Few months later, when we have a talk again, I could clearly remember that I have told him, next year would be his only!! His reply was, ‘no, no. I am so young to be an achiever! ’ In between I had my stint of success(?) & failure about which he was least bothered.
For last few months we didn’t have any talk. Both of us were too much busy… Today evening, I saw something on Facebook, he is indeed the’ young achiever of this yea’r and have climbed up quite a few steps up in the ladder!! Hats off o his dedication and hardwork.I am immensely happy because my prediction was dot on but at the same time shocked too as because he didn’t pick up the phone or replied to the sms!! I am leaving aside that he didn’t even feel to let me know this great news!!
Still, I am happy for you my friend precisely for two reasons. If the first one is for your success, then the second one is of course for me. Surprised? I know I am a recyclable object… and my dear friend has again proved me right!!

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Moments of Truth

These are few of my personal anecdotes-the good, the bad and the ugly. Some might feel I am a pessimist, to some I might appear as a narcissist and some could see optimism in me. But this is me-the original me!
The Journey begins
In my birth, I was separated from my parents. No, not in the literal sense of the term, but due to medical emergency. It may sound weird, but still it’s a truth. My survival chance was zero as my mother had some infections soon after I was born. So, doctors advised my didan and mashisona (maternal grandmother and aunt) to take the baby home. I came to my home at the age of 6-day and was entirely brought up by them. Mother was there for another month! After that I never stayed with my parents as both of them were working!
I was lonely since childhood. The realization being lonely came much later, but it was there. I didn’t find anybody to spend time with, to play etc. etc. Still, I am lonely. I cannot share my thoughts with anyone. Each time I had tried, the other person took advantage of that!
Learning A-B-C-D
Thanks to my parents, I was admitted to Patha Bhavan , no not an English Medium Convent School but to a school which really helps you to grow as a person and inspires you to nurture your dream while providing quality education. I was selected by Holy Child & Carmel too, but I was fortunate that my parents have chosen the best option for me. Our Montessori (L-Kg & U-Kg) section was at Swinhoe Street, it’s still there. Each time my office bus crosses that place I look at my school. I miss my ‘misses’ wooden blocks, sand shakers, mat everything! In Junior section (1-4) we didn’t have any exam, it was only class performance based on continuous assessment and plenty of fun, music, drawing & activities!! I never felt any burden of studies. Senior section is from class 5. There I found a whole new world. First time I exposed to exams, a little pressure to study. I didn’t have any private tutor/coaching from Kg-PG!! (except a three-month coaching for maths before my 10th). My parents were pretty straight, ‘if you wish to be educated, study on your own!’ That actually paid off, I am proud of the fact that nobody has spoon-fed me, whatever little achievement I have, that’s my very own. My parents were least bothered; they only got to know about their only daughter’s performance through annual PTM!
The Teachers
My teachers have always been a source of inspiration for me. From most of them I have got so much care, concern & love that I cannot even match certain aspects of teacher-student relationship which are very common today. They were the only ones who I got by my side in my hard times as well as when I was elated. One might say, in school this kind of a bond is natural, may be but my university experience too was the same. The professors were no less than a friend, whatever age-difference it might be!! Still, I have contact with most of them. My school teachers call me up as well as my Profs!! I keep ringing them whenever I feel (time is no bar!!)
Joining Jadavpur University was my decision alone. I said no to Presidency, Lady Brabourne & I went to India’s 2nd best university. That institution has given me a whole new perspective. It taught me some bitter truth of life as well as opened a new horizon in front of me!! I never stood first, but for some reason I was very close to my professors, though I have a bad habit of calling ‘spade a spade’ irrespective of the place or person concerned.
First step in pursuing my dream
While pursuing Masters in History, I got a call for my first job from ABP. So scared to tell at home, I quietly went to their office at 6, Prafulla Chandra Street and wrote the admission test. It was not that good. Almost after 2-month I got the interview call from the same place & cracked it. Nobody at my home knew that I have already bagged a job. I was fortunate that they have given me an open offer for joining, I joined on 1st June, 2006 whereas I could do that on 11th Jan itself. The gap between last day of my final exam and the first day of my job was less than 24 hours!!
I always have a dream to be a journalist. I was very happy after I got into ABP. But as the days went by, I start realising the various aspects of office politics. I was never a diplomat or image conscious, so I couldn’t compromise with so many practices there. At times I felt, I must run away… I am destroying myself!! There were good people also; I don’t want to take any name… for them only I have survived there for more than 3 years.
An unexpected call
When frustration tore me apart, I got a call from IIM Calcutta for the post of a TTA. Went there, appeared for the test & interview & more surprisingly got selected! So I quit ABP & joined IIMC on 24th August, 2009. It was altogether a different world, the world which was (& is) completely unknown to me. Here some persons in power, question individual’s ‘brand value’, make you realize that ‘general stream’ people are not fit for this institute & so on…
Here I faced certain situations, which I didn’t even think of in my worst nightmare. First time I had to compromise or so to say in a very tactical way I was forced to compromise. That still bothers me, each time I am completely alone I berate myself for that, sometimes start crying. ‘Forget & Forgive’ is actually not that easy!
If I say IIM Calcu____ is incomplete without TTA, that won’t be an exaggeration but it’s a thankless job. Definitely it’s a huge personal learning experience for me, I learnt (at least tried to learn) a lot, but where’s the acknowledgment? Students do acknowledge, but the faculties? Most of them first see your weightage as a brand! If people like me who have come from a very general background, don’t even get the minimum credit she/he deserves! Moreover, sometimes questions were raised about the competency! There are some golden exceptions to this practice those who are very senior or personally have a different outlook. We are like ‘Glorified’ Wage labourer…
Still, I Love the campus. The Lakes, the trees, the colourful flowers & all the people out there have given a different touch to this beautiful place. I know I am counting my days at IIMC, still this short stint with this institute I will remember forever!
My run has already begun for the next big one. Patha Bhavan-JU-ABP-IIMC not that bad & I am happy that I have made to these places with my hard works only.
Search for happiness
I know, my simple, soft (I might appear very tough from outside) nature has been taken for granted by all. Once I left a place, most people don’t even remember me. Still, They know, Anwesha won’t say know if it’s within her reach. Earlier I was a ‘Use & Throw’ article, now with the changing nature have become ‘recyclable’!! Some might like me, some might hate, and some might laugh at me… now I don’t have any expectation from anyone. I just want to be happy with all I have.
I don’t want to make big money, I don’t want to be famous… I just want to stay as simple. Even after so many ups & down, I believe ‘Honesty is the best policy’.
Once I have a dream, it’s still there, I just want to pursue that with grit & determination as I believe there cannot be any shortcut to success!!
Thank you all those who have either positively or negatively help me reach here…

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Compulsory Licensing: A much needed step?

Just few months back, Indian Pharma giant Piramal healthcare Ltd hit the headline for being acquired by US Pharma Company Abbott, the deal worth $3.72 billion. Three years back in 2008, Japanese drug maker Daiichi Sankyo bought Delhi based Ranbaxy Laboratories for $ 5 billion. In every second day, some news of M&A, TakeOver or Slump Sale is coming from Indian Pharma industry and that has bothered the policymakers, especially in post 2005 scenario.
In almost all the cases, Indian companies have been acquired by the overseas companies and that has raised the concern about chances of non-availability of patented drugs locally. Experts believe, this could lead to increase in prices even in the cases of generic drugs. So, DIPP (Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion) is going to implement the Compulsory Licensing for Pharmaceuticals, which is naturally opposed by foreign lobby groups. Now the debate is about, whether at all this Compulsory Licensing is needed & would it affect India’s long term vision in the context of innovation and foreign deals?
Before divulge into any more, let see what is Compulsory Licensing.
“Compulsory licensing is a system whereby the Government allows third parties (other than the patent holder) to produce and market a patented product or process without the consent of the patent owner. Through such interventions, the Governments balance the rights of the patent holder with its obligations to ensure working of patents, availability of the products at a reasonable price, promotion and dissemination of technological invention and protection of public health and nutrition.”
Almost all the developed, developing and under developed countries have Compulsory Licensing provisions. United States of America has six provisions for CLs. Canada practiced the same for a long time. United Kingdom has the proviso in the British Law itself. Italy invoked the same whenever it felt the ‘emergency’. Post Doha round of TRIPS agreement on Public Health, Brazil, Thailand, South Africa, Kenya, Ecuador too have adopted the CL policy.
When the Controller issues a CL on the basis of Central Government’s special notification or of the importing country’s notification or issuance of CLs, they are referred as Category I CLs. The rest falls under Category II where Controller independently takes the call on issuance of CLs.
Under the Indian Patent Act 2005, the issue of CLs has been addressed explicitly in 4 sections. The sections are as follows:-
• Section 84: General CLs (on the basis of application)
• Section 91: Special CLs (on the basis of related patent application)
• Section 92: Special CLs (in the case of National/Extreme Emergency & Public non-commercial use based on notification by Central Govt)
• Section 92A: Special CLs (for manufacture and export of patented pharmaceutical product to any country having insufficient or no manufacturing capacity in the pharmaceutical sector for the concerned product to address public health problems). In addition, use of inventions for the purpose of government and acquisition of inventions by Central Government is clearly mentioned.
There was (and is) argument, whether by bringing the provision of CLs India is violating the TRIPS Compliance. The argument doesn’t have any acceptance as TRIPS has clarified its stand in the context of Public Health in Doha. “In ‘Doha Declaration on the TRIPS agreement and Public Health’ it specifically clarifies that the TRIPS agreement does not and should not prevent Members from taking measures to protect public health. It further affirms the Members rights to protect public health and in particular to promote access to medicines for all.” Article 31 of TRIPS agreement qualifies “other use without authorisation of Right Holder” on 12 specific conditions. Though there is restriction regarding the issuance of CLs in semi conductor technologies, but there’s absolutely no restriction on the issue of public health. TRIPs also stipulate that ‘the right holder shall be paid adequate remuneration in the circumstances of each case, taking into account the economic value of the authorization.’
But the question is, when Strategic Business Alliance in form of M&A, Take Over is common to all industries, why government is only worried about the Pharma sector. Just see the current situation of the industry.

MNCs are taking over the Indian companies. There are increasing concerns by the Government, if such takeover trend continues, an oligopolistic market may develop, which may result in a few companies dictating prices of life saving drugs of HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis C.
• This continuous Takeover trend may weaken the government’s ability in the extreme cases through CLs, because of following reasons:-
• Big Indian pharmaceutical companies, which have been taken over by foreign companies, may no longer be willing to apply for a Compulsory Licence even if eligible.
• When government notifies a public emergency and recognizes the need for issue of a CL for a particular drug, sufficient number of capable drug manufactures may not come forward to apply for CL and work it at a reasonable cost.
• There is a concern that foreign companies may utilize the marketing channels of the Indian companies they take over to sell higher cost patented drugs or branded generics rather than the cheaper ones. This may push up drug prices in general.
• Some of the Indian companies taken over were recipients of substantial grants as well as tax concessions. Thus a significant portion of their market value arose because of state support and they were catering to niche markets for relevant drugs. With their transfer to foreign control, they may no longer be interested in doing so.
And to combat these situations, government has only 4 options.
o By invoking ‘Government Use’ provision or by issuing CLs in case of national emergency
o Invocation Of Competition Act, 2002 to check the market reality i.e. price or availability of a drug, consequence of an anti competitive agreement, abuse of dominant position by a company
o Reviewing the policy on foreign investment for pharmaceutical companies. Presently, investment up to 100% in the pharmaceutical sector is on the automatic route. This could be shifted to the government route so that proposals could be scrutinized by the FIPB. This could be a way of monitoring whether new technology is being brought in by a foreign company while taking over an Indian company.
o More power to National Pharmaceutical Pricing Authority
Indian Patent Act, 1970 did not allow product patent of "substances intended for use, or capable of being used, as food or as medicine or drug." This actually catapulted the reverse-engineering mechanism by Indian firms. It encouraged the local firms to produce copies of the drugs by developing their own process. Before the first amendment of the Patent Act in 1995, Government took two major decisions,
 Introduction of ‘DPCO’ to protect the Consumers’ interest
 ‘ Process Patent’ was allowed
In 1995, India became the member of WTO and signatory of TRIPS Agreement. There on, the business aspect of intellectual property rights took a huge turn, the management of IPRs have become an important discourse in the Indian context too. So let’s see what happened between 1995-2005:
• Exclusive Marketing Rights- This new provision has been incorporated in the Patents Act, 1970 as amended by The Patents (Amendment) Act, 1999 with effect from 1st January, 1995 . EMR will be valid for a period of five years or till the date of grant of the patent or date of rejection of the application for the grant of patent whichever is earlier.
• It is now possible to make an application for patent claiming for a substance itself intended for use or capable of being used as Medicine or Drug, excepting the intermediate for the preparation of drug.
• India joined the Paris Convention and the Patent Cooperation Treaty in 1999.
• Abolition of product patents in chemicals and pharmaceuticals has facilitated the development of local technological capability in chemicals and pharmaceutical industry by enabling the domestic firms in their process innovative activity.
Finally, in 2005, Patent Act was amended and some new provisions were included, those are:-
• Provision related to black box application
• Parallel import, grey imports, ”Exhaustion” of rights
• Compulsory licenses
• Herbal preparations
Now in the present context, it seems CLs is the only way out for a poor country like India. The way medicine prices are increasing, the days are not far away when it would be out of reach for the poor. Already, maximum people are beyond reach of costly drugs of Cancer, AIDS or Hepatitis C. Health Care is one of the sectors where India is giving maximum importance, so its government’s duty to make the healthcare industry an easy access for all by ensuring availability of quality medicines in reasonable price and improving the accessibility of essential medicines.
Industry experts believe, the proposed Approval (Government) Route for foreign investment in Pharma sector is a good idea. It would help even in monitoring new technologies, if any, brought by the foreign companies while striking a business deal with an Indian company. On the other hand, technological innovation might get a boost by way of providing technical know-how.
As of now it seems government is a step ahead, though March 31st will give the final answer.

• DIPP Draft on Compulsory Licencing
• TRIPS: India - Patent Protection for Pharmaceuticals (Article)
• Journal of Intellectual Property Rights

Monday, 21 February 2011

Oh Nooooooooo!! Bangla...

“To me, there’s no difference between French and Bengali!’’ a 13-year-old Bengali girl uttered these words in a most stylish way! She took great pride in the fact that she can’t read or write her own mother tongue!
Bengalis otherwise branded as an ‘educated and intellectual class’ has these exclusive characteristics of taking pride in not knowing their own language. ‘Banglata na thik ashena (I don’t know Bengali properly) is the most common feature of the urban youth, who don’t even know their favourite English in its actual form! There’s no denying that knowing the correct English is too important for communication, career etc. as it is considered the connecting language for both India & abroad!
But the irony is, ‘International Mother Tongue Day’ is the outcome of ‘Bhasha Andolan’ (Bengali Language Movement) which was fought by the students of the Dhaka University in order to recognise Bangla as the official language of Bangladesh (the then East Pakistan) against West Pakistani government’s imposition of Urdu as the official language of East Pakistan! Today is the 61st year of ‘Bhasha Andolan’ and Bengali has become the most neglected language and an ‘embarrassment’ for a large number of people in Kolkata itself! I am excluding the Diaspora chapters for some other connotations.
India too has experienced its own sort of language movement. Potti Sriramumulu’s ‘fast-unto-death’ and consequently his death sparked off the major re-shaping of Indian state boundaries. Sriramumulu demanded Telugu-speaking-state. Through the act of Reorganisation of the states, 1956, the old states were dissolved & new states were created on the lines of shared linguistic and ethnic demographics. Thus, Telugu speaking Andhra Pradesh, Malayalam-speaking Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Marathi-speaking Maharashtra, Gujarat and Punjab were created. Bengal never has to fight for its language, it was automatic but it is the state which has least respect for its native language.
In almost all the Indian states, learning the state-language is mandatory. Be it Maharashtra or Gujarat, Kerala or Andhra, you have to have learn the language of the state you are residing in. The exception is west Bengal, where Bengali is not even compulsory as third language! So it’s of no surprise that Marathis or Gujaratis, Punjabis or Tamilians or Malayalis have great pride for knowing their language! Bengalis are probably the only tribe who prefers English over Bengali while communicating in a social gathering! Showing-off has become a normal practice for most of the Bengalis! Parents feel satisfied if their kids get less marks in Bengali or if the school doesn’t teach Bengali at all!! Kids can’t be blamed for disrespecting Bengali, because this is the culture their parents are implanting in them! They are simply following the ‘global practice!’
Rabindranath Tagore believed, English should be skillfully and thoroughly taught as a second language, the chief medium of instruction in schools (and even in colleges up to the stage of the university degree) should be the mother tongue. He has four reasons for this belief: first, because it is through his mother tongue that every man learns the deepest lessons of life: second, because some of those pupils who have a just claim to higher education cannot master the English language; third, because many of those who do acquire English fail to achieve true proficiency in it and yet, in the attempt to learn a language so difficult to a Bengali, spend too large a part of the energy which is indispensable to the growth of the power of independent thought and observation; and, fourth, because a training conducted chiefly through the mother tongue would lighten the load of education for girls, whose deeper culture is of high importance to India. He holds that the essential things in the culture of the West should be conveyed to the whole Bengali people by means of a widely diffused education, but that this can only be done through a wider use of the vernacular in schools.
One must not misunderstand me, I am not telling that in name of saving own ‘cultural distinctiveness’, everyone should follow Siva Sena’s path, forcefully imposing alien languages to others, abusing other language speaking people. My point is simple; one must have respect for his own language! Caution is especially for the self-forgotten Bengalis, because ‘’Everyone loses if one language is lost because then a nation and culture lose their memory, and so does the complex tapestry form which the world is woven and which makes the world an exciting place…”. Even Gandhiji firmly stated, “Any nation that cherishes its individuality must love its own language and feel proud of it. The learning of English must come second to learning one's mother tongue.”
I am proud to be a Bengali. I am proud that I can read, write and speak in Bengali. I never feel ashamed of that. Some of the best literary creations of the world is in Bengali, great movies were made in Bengali by eminent film makers like Satyajit Ray, Mrinal Sen, Ritwik Ghatak. Noble Prize, for the very first time came to India for a Bengali, Oscar too followed the same path! One Bengali had unfurled his jersey at the Lord’s Balcony, innumerable examples are there! Still, most Bengalis don’t know their mother tongue, they feel ashamed in speaking in Bengali.
It’s a question for them… very recently Bengali bashing has been a regular practice in most places of India. Don’t they think that actually their disrespect for their own language has actually widened the path for this insult? Have they ever thought that each Indian has to sing two Bengali songs, namely Jana Gana Mana’ and ‘Vande Mataram’ at least once in their life?
Now,take a look at our neighour. The Morning Star of the Language Movement, this year have chosen to 'celebrate' the occasion on a different note. In a close affinity with the Arab Spring, Shahbag Square is burning bright with the candles. The war-cry being 'hang the 1971 terrorists'. 'Amar Ekushe' (21st February forever)is the driving force of Bangladesh. They know, they fight for a cause, unlike India where one Nirbhaya Case shook the conscience of the nation and within weeks die down! Bangladesh knows how to ensure justice, we must take a cue from them! I am sure 90% of the people would give a blank look if you ask the significance of the date!
Wake up Bengalis… we must not forget our very own Bangla! After all, ‘amar bhaiyer rokte rangano ekushe February/ ami ki bhulite pari?’ (My brother has shed blood on 21st, how could I forget that?). Let’s think of those young, brave boys and then look at ourselves. I can assure, if we have emotions, we will feel pity and ashamed for ourselves only! The 'sweetest tongue' is allover my body and soul...('Amar Bhitor o Bahire, Anatare, Anatre Achho tumi Hriday Jure' the immortal lines by Rudra Muhammad Shahidullah, penned during the Bhasha Andolan), so let's embrace it. No shame in knowing your own language!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Saga of St. Valentine

It is so much true that ‘Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love.’ So people fall in love and very often come out of it. Through the ages the single emotion called love has been the inspiration for poet’s creativity, painter’s canvassing, singlehood’s panacea and couple’s headache. There might be many other micro level feelings associated with that. But in last few years Love has become an ‘ocean of emotions entirely surrounded by expenses!’ Thanks to the Great Lover saint Valentine, suddenly his Love for a little girl (as the story tells) being celebrated all over the world.
The gentle feeling of Love has now become a commodity. It (Love) is wrapped in sweetness of chocolates, fragrance of flowers, sparkles of diamonds, tenderness of Giant teddy etc etc; Shops are giving huge discounts, message contests being organized, mobile service providers declared it as ‘Black out’ day for super profit- thus the ‘business of Love’ has become a multi-billion dollar market! Yes, Valentine’s Day is here again!! Markets at its best with lucrative offers for Love…
But the fact is, if you love someone from the bottom of your heart, if it is eternal, a-never-ending feeling of completeness, then it cannot be a commodity at the first place, can’t be a tool for consumerism! Have you ever thought, it’s a basic human emotion and it’s on sale!!
Personally, I never fall in Love per se. So to say, I don’t have any ‘Prince Charming’ in my life and I think I am blessed being single. Secret crush was (and is) definitely there, love for people is there. I feel for them, but for that I don’t need any special day to ‘celebrate’ my feelings for them. It comes naturally. All 365 days I have the same amount of love, concern, and care for them. I might be backward!! Actually I believe, if you love someone (not limited within man-woman relationship or bodily pleasure) you don’t need ‘luxurious celebration’ for that! It is often silent, unspoken and sometimes self explanatory.
Some feel love is all about getting physical. If you don’t touch each other (upto its sexual core) fulfilment cannot come. Sex, Lust is the gratification for love! Certain instincts might be essentiality for some individuals but Platonic Love is the purest form of love. Even without seeing each other you might have a deep feeling for a person. A silent look can speak volumes which thousand of kisses and passionate touch might not express. One of the positive aspects (or the only?) of Valentine’s Day is that it is encouraging Platonic Love too! The other form of love needs no encouragement, I guess!!
Give n’ take is the basis of Love nowadays!! ‘You are single, find your V-day partner’ too is in the offing!! Youths, especially those who are in ‘Love’ laments if they are unable to get an expensive gift for his/her partner. Great Show-(Off) business I must call!
If you have a very special place for somebody in your heart, do you really need a special day to express that? Market-statistics would say, definitely yes, but I know for sure, it’s not!! Love is eternal, tranquil. It knows no boundary. It has no limitations. Love, cannot be marketed, branded… As long as human heart bits, this very warm emotion will be there, even when there wouldn’t be ANY VALENTINE’S DAY!!

Saturday, 29 January 2011

'Intellectual' War

Is it over and again Intellectual challenge in form of financial benefit?
This might not be very exaggeration if someone puts it like that!
It is well known (and also accepted) that Indians are more meritorious and intellectually ahead than the native Americans & Europeans. No, I am not commenting from any prejudice, but several surveys are there to present the stated fact.
But for past 15 years Developed nations (mostly USA and EU) have tried to throw challenges to India by owning patents on several products which is originally Indian and falls under ‘Traditional Knowledge!’
Intellectual Property Rights is an emerging aspect of international business. Management of IPRs has become one of the major attributes of M&A, Take Over or JVs! To protect the business interest of every nation, TRIPS (Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights) has come into force under WTO! Most of the nations are signatories of the same! Yet violation is taking place in every second day! Copyrights, Geographical Identification, Trademarks are not that badly hit as in the case of patents! And India is the worst hit!
So, what is a patent?
It is a product or process which includes innovative step, industrial application, novelty and which must not fall under the ambit of ‘prior use’. Patent is generally granted for 20 years and governed by Indian Patent Act, 1970, (Amended in 2002).
WIPO has defined patent as “an exclusive right granted for an invention, which is a product or a process that provides a new way of doing something, or offers a new technical solution to a problem.” []

But surprisingly enough, while granting patents, many a times ‘prior use’ and ‘novelty’ have been looked down upon! The little example of that Basmati, Neem, Haldi (Turmeric), fennel, coriander, cumin, sunflower, peanut, reri (castor) all have been patented by USA and EU companies!! (Though some of them revoked later).

Before going into past, first let see the most recent one!
Lal Dantmanjan (Red Herbal Gentifrice) has been patented by Colgate-Palmolive in USA! Yes, it is the same Dantmanjan which reminds millions of Indians about ‘Raju & Masterji’ TV Commercials by Dabur! And which categorically falls under the age-old practice of Indian Ayurveda, which means Lal Dantmanjan is a Traditional Knowledge and is in public use for decades.
Colgate-Palmolive got the patent this year in June in USA. The same company has filed for patent of this product in India too in 1995. But that is yet to be granted.
The Secretary of ‘The Association of Manufacturers of Ayurvedic Medicines’ (Amam) is of the opinion that India must apply for ‘post grant’ objection sighting the example of Traditional Knowledge. And India’s application must be cancelled on the ground of ‘traditional knowledge.’

But Traditional Knowledge of India has developed a peculiar ‘tradition’ of being patented outside the country!

It began all with Neem. In 1995 the patent was granted to WR Grace and US Department of Agriculture. After severe opposition from various Indian groups, it was cancelled in 2005 on the ground that the invention was not ‘novel’ and was in ‘public use’ in India.

Turmeric was next on the line. Two NRI associated with Mississippi Medical Centre, Jackson was awarded patent on Haldi by USPTO. For ages, this has been in use in India for curing various diseases. Vehement protests by India forced the patent office to‘re-examine’ and it found that it falls under ‘prior art’, thus, not patentable!

Wheat too was patented by Monsanto, European Patent Office (Munich Office) granted the patent in 2003. Later, with the help of PIL in the Supreme Court of India and Greenpeace Organisation, India was successful to get the patent cancelled.

The fragrance of Basmati is still a buzz word in the Patent circle. USA Co. Rice Tec was granted patent of Basmati under the brand name of ‘Texmati’ and ‘Kasmati.’ With much effort India was able to prove that Basmati was long-grain scented rice which has specific geographical origins in India. Both Texmati and Kasmati are none other than variants of Basmati: India has successfully proved that point in the ‘post grant opposition’ appeal. So after much debate and thorough re-examination Basmati patent was partially revoked (grain-specific claim of Rice Tec was struck down by the Patent office) and it was stated, “Rice Tec would not be able to block the country’s (India) Basmati Rice export to US; it could, however, produce ‘similar or superior grains’ outside India.”

Though India is yet to file cases against the patent of Isabgol: Psyllium Husk, Saunf: FENNEL, Dhania: CORIANDER, Jeera: CUMIN, Surajmukhi: SUNFLOWER, Moongphali: PEANUT, Arandi, Reri: CASTOR, Karela (Bitter gourd), Jamun and Brijnal, Jar Amla: Phyllanthus Niruri, various countries of Europe, Asia and USA have already patented these products and they are enjoying the huge economic benefit from these products. [courtesy: Allahabad High Court website]

To some critics, this is happening over and again because of the difference in the patent law of USA and India. According to law firm Sagar & Suri, “India first examines a patent application, then widely publishes it for third parties to challenge, and only then grants the patent. However, the US keeps the patent application a closely guarded secret and grants it without allowing other parties to challenge it. After the patent has been granted, third parties are then allowed to petition against the patent. This shortfall in the patent process in the US that ultimately needs to be revised to prevent future cases like this (Basmati) from occurring.”

In 1995, when ‘modified’ GATT was resurfaced in the form of WTO, various developing nations had shown their concern for their Business and Commerce prospect. Especially Third world countries faced the “intellectual challenge’ from the developed nations. As IPRs are ‘golden hen’ in the business circuit, countries like USA, EU have used their clout and patented various products/processes which in actuality have separate origins. Left wing parties raised these issues of ‘Economic abuse’ when India became member of WTO!

TRIPS agreement is not enough successful in protecting the IPRs of the developing and under-developed nations. Much stricter regulations need to be imposed to prevent the abuse of IPRs.
Experts believe, disclosure of the source and country of origin, evidence of prior informed consent by concerned national authority and fair sharing of benefit must be incorporated in the patent application form itself.

And where India stands today?

In the second amendment of Patent Law of India in 2002, disclosure of source and GI was made mandatory for applying patent within the country. Revocation of patent is incorporated if disclosure is not done or given inaccurately. Further to prevent patents based on TK, which is not always in written form, provisions have been made to include anticipation of invention by available local knowledge, including oral knowledge, as one of the grounds for opposition and for revocation of patent.

For protection of traditional knowledge Biodiversity Act of 1999 has been enacted. Sui Generis System, electronic database of TK (mostly of medicinal plants) i.e. Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), power to oppose and give prior approval for patenting by NBA have become operational under this law.

Still, the numero uno ‘Emerging Economy of the world’ is yet to achieve the desired success rate in the protection of IPRs. Indian IPR laws should be more stringent not only in paper, but also in practice!

India has proved its genius and intellectual capital to the western world in various manners. In this new kind of ‘Intellectual War’, the hope is that India will emerge as a Champion yet again!!