IPR and Higher Education: How Is India Evolving?

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Introduction 

Indian Education system is often criticized for not getting recognized in the world. We don’t have many institutions on the list of the world’s best universities. But still, students from our universities are the ones who are leading many international companies. The major difference between the recognition and quality is that India does not give much importance to innovation and research. But this is changing slowly. The government recognized this and launched a new National IPR policy in 2016. This policy marks a shift in the approach and attitude of the Indian government. The aim is to promote innovation and creativity in higher education institutes and also amongst entrepreneurs. The University Grant Commission, which is the nodal authority, dealing with the standards of educational institutes is now trying to include IPR as a general elective subject for all the courses. This paradigm shift in the policies of UGC may prove to be a game-changer. 

The National Intellectual Property Right Policy 2016

A new IPR policy or to put it in a better way, India’s first IPR policy framed by the government of India was launched in May 2016. It is a document that shows the vision of India to create a stable and effective relationship between various forms of intellectual property. If one goes through the National IPR policy of 2016, a basic reading will give the knowledge that there are 7 objectives that the government aims at achieving. They vary from creating awareness to the formation of the legislature. The objectives are as follows:

  • Increasing IPR awareness 
  • Generating more IPRs 
  • Development of a legal and legislative framework 
  • Improving the administration and management 
  • Commercializing IPRs 
  • Human Capital Development 
  • Enforcement and adjudication of IPR schemes. 

The policy suggests developing and creating a department of industrial policy and promotion. They will be the nodal agency for all IPR issues. It is suggested that this department will fall under the ambit of the HRD ministry. It aims to reduce the time taken for registration and examination of IPR requests. It is aimed to bring down the time to just 1 month. As of 2017, the time that was taken to do the same was brought down from 13 months to 8 months. It aims to cover films, music, and industrial drawings under the ambit of copyright. A tax relaxation-based approach is expected to be done to promote the use of IPR. 

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The policy focuses a lot on promoting IPR. It aims at providing financial backing to the most ignored sector which has high clusters of IP productions. This is about developing the IPR amongst the farmers, weavers, artisans, and craftsmen. This is aimed to be done by providing financial aid with help of rural banks. 

Under its objective 2, the IPR policy aims to introduce IPRs as a part of the academic curriculum in educational institutions. A special mention of the higher educational institutes has been made in the policy. The policy also shows intent to hire and improve the quality of teachers that the university provides regarding IPR. This can be seen under objective 7 of the policy. It also aims to develop a teaching capacity. This is to be done by evaluation of the work of teachers based on their work on performance-based criteria. It also talks about making IP courses a compulsory subject in educational institutions. 

National Education Policy 

 The Indian government in 2020 launched the much-awaited new National Education Policy. This policy is India’s first education policy of 2021. It is said to be the document that shows the dream of modern India concerning its educational sector. The policy is formed in a manner to achieve Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The policy is divided into 4 parts and the 4th part deals with higher education. It aims to develop intellectual curiosity, scientific temper, and creativity in higher educational institutions. The policy categories the lesser emphasis on research at the university level as a major problem being faced by the higher education system of India. The policy highlights that the research and innovation investment in our nation is very low currently. It is only 0.69% of GDP. The policy says that it “envisions a comprehensive approach to transforming the quality and quantity of research in India”. The policy aims at providing career counseling in schools to help the student identify their interest area and talents. The policy envisions the setting up of a National Research Foundation. The goal of NRF is to enable and create a culture of research that permeates Indian Universities. This foundation aims to completely fund research in all disciplines. The NRF is to acts as a liaison between researchers and relevant branches of the government and the industry. 

Changes in the Higher Education Institutions:

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The government is planning to modify the definition of higher education institutions. The new proposed definition will be “a multidisciplinary institution of higher learning”, which offers both undergraduate and postgraduate courses. These organizations must provide high-quality teaching, research, and community engagement. It also defines three types of universities. These are Research-intensive universities, teaching-intensive universities, and Autonomous degree-granting colleges. These are defined as follows:

  1. Research intensive universities: these are the universities where the equal emphasis will be given on teaching and research both
  2. Teaching intensive universities: these are the universities where a great emphasis will be given on teaching but would still conduct significant research
  3. Autonomous degree-granting college: a large multi-disciplinary institution that will be granting the undergraduate degree and is comparatively smaller than the universities. These universities will be primarily focused on teaching though they are not restricting themselves to that only. 

The new education policy also aims at doing away with the current nodal bodies relating to higher education i.e., UGC and AICTE. 

Steps taken by the government

The government has taken multiple steps to promote IPR in higher education institutions and the nation. The government has reduced the patent fee by 80% and has started schemes for facilitating start-ups. One such policy is the National start-up policy 2019. The government has made a national student and faculty start-up policy,2019. This is a guiding framework that aims at creating an education system that is oriented towards start-ups for students and faculties. 

The policy lays down that the institutions should allow a minimum of 15% of their annual budget to fund and support startup-related activities. It also asks all the HEIs to create pre-incubation cells for start-ups in colleges. They may also offer mentoring services to the students interested. These institutions are asked to let students work part-time for establishing or creating their start-ups.

Way forward

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Currently, research and development are limited to few institutes in India. IITs are at the top in the number of IP requests being filed. The new IPR policy has shown some intent in improving the condition of IPR in India. By educating students at an early stage about the subject, we are going to improve the number of people getting interested in research and development in the future. Also, many times the reason why students do not indulge in such practices is the absence of monetary help. By providing financial help, the government is going to take care of this aspect. 

In all, this policy when combined with the new education policy may prove to be the game changed and the trendsetter. The government has done thorough research before creating these policies and this is visible by the fact that they have accepted past failures and neglect regarding the subject. 


 

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