India Can Do Better


By Jasper MacSlarrow

Last week’s Economist article, “What a waste: How India is throwing away the world’s biggest economic opportunity,” is a must read. The crux of the argument lies in the belief that India was seen as the next great success story for the developing world. With democratic reforms and, in theory, a more liberalized economy, the rise of this Asian nation had the capability to make the 21st century an economic success story for the Indian people.

But dreams of Indian dominance in worldwide economic affairs are slipping through the nation’s fingers. With a fast growing demographic which will boast the biggest potential workforce within a decade, young Indians hoping to harness and seize on the country’s economic growth are being failed by the industrial policies of their own government and reinforced by their judiciary.

Where we see this notably is in the creative and innovative sectors that rely on intellectual (IP) rights. The flourishing local film sector, Bollywood, is probably the most distinguished creative entity for the silver screen outside of Hollywood. Homegrown actors, crewmembers, and technicians are churning out a significant volume of films, which are routinely pirated by the Indian masses. With the aspiration of making Bollywood a global phenomenon and a great export, the Indian government must take a more meaningful stance against domestic piracy of local as well as international creative works.

Indian entrepreneurs and innovators are also being shortchanged. While just this week President Mukherjee called on universities to pursue “innovation, research and development to uplift the standards of education in the country,” his government and courts are either failing to protect or a slowly nicking away at internationally-recognized IP rights.

You simply can’t have innovation without fostering the incentives to pursue it, which is exactly why GIPC’s Executive Vice President Mark Elliot felt compelled to write a letter to the editor, which was published on The Economist’s  website:

SIR – India is squandering its opportunity to raise an innovative working population and economy. A spate of recent legal and policy decisions undermine nearly every aspect of internationally recognised intellectual property rights. To harness economic momentum and actually utilise its well-educated populace, India must set high standards for the promotion and protection of IP, which are a necessity for forward-leaning, innovation-friendly economies.

It is absolutely in the best interests of India, the United States, and all nations no matter the level of development to pursue pro-growth, pro-innovation, and pro-intellectual property policies. Otherwise, opportunities will be wasted.

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