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India's stand at the WTO on patents and Intellectual Property Rights.

World Trade Organization (WTO) is a platform for member countries to raise economic issues. Since its establishment in 1994-95, WTO has played a role of negotiator between the developed and the developing countries. Rules related to trade, tariff, patents, intellectual rights etc are formed with common understanding and the entire world's economies are governed under same set of rules framed by the WTO.

India is a founding member of WTO. She has always defended the rights of developing countries. Most important task of any developing country is to protect its domestic trade and industry from exploitation of industries of developed countries. India's stand has been that in spite of its liberalization policy, the domestic manufacturers and producers should be protected.

In recent times, many firms from the United States have challenged India for her protectionist stand. They alleged that India do to not follow the international agreement of WTO on intellectual property rights i.e. TRIPS.

'TRIPS' is an agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights. It is to follow minimum standards for intellectual property regulation by member countries.

U.S. firms are pressing U.S. government to take hard stand against India's trade policies. They are insisting to put India in the list of "priority foreign country". This will label India as an offender of patent law. Moreover, some legal cases have been filed in the WTO and many Indian companies are banned to access U.S. market, particularly some pharmaceutical companies. These steps are to pressurize India to scrutinize her trade policies.

India being developing country has its own challenges. Under such circumstance when it is difficult to maintain world standard, India has never been shy in raising her standard. She has never hesitated to take world competition. Her protectionist stand is just to provide level playing field to its domestic industries.

As Indian laws pertaining to patents and intellectual rights are well within the agreed norms of WTO's TRIPS agreement, recent allegation of U.S. firms doesn't find any ground.

The whole allegation process started when India promoted its indigenization of technology, particularly in field of solar energy. Also India has given patent to pharmaceutical company to manufacture standard medicine on cheap rates. This is to meet the demands of poor people of the country. Both these stands have implication on the business of the U.S. based companies.

As a result, the U.S companies will have limited access to Indian market. Their idea to monopolize the technological areas especially in growing sector of India will get affected. Moreover, there plans to invest in India's solar energy sector, which is the fastest growing sector, will also be restricted.

So the pressure from U.S. is with capitalist motives to monopolize the world market. India is trying to defend her stand in WTO and is trying to expose the U.S intentions of dominating the world trade.

India has a history to take strong stand against the exploitation of the developing economy. Many times she has to face criticism for failures of trade talks at the world forums. But she has continued to be firm on its stand.

At WTO, India has to deal with the issue of U.S. pressure diplomatically. India-US relations are already in strain. There is skepticism that events of past like case against diplomat Devyani Khorbogade and strict treatment against U.S diplomats in India, recent hard stand at WRO has cast it shadow on on the WTO negotiations.

Since U.S is strategically important for India, so it is important for India to assert her stand legally at the WTO. This may put on rest all the apprehensions of the US. That's the only way a long term India-US relationship can be built.

Ajeet Singh