Selective righteousness is morally corrupt!

A recent report by the US Chamber of Commerce ranked India at the bottom of 25 countries in protection of IPR (Intellectual property rights). Senator Orrin Hatch a highly respected US senator has accused India of allowing “rampant piracy and counterfeiting” for the benefit of its own industries. The largest democracy is a bastion of free trade; where free literally means that one does not pay for something; till one can get away with it, until one is caught with the hands in the cookie jar. At that time one raises a hue and cry “I would very honestly describe it as scare-mongering tactics and, frankly, I don’t think it’s helpful,” Ambassador to the US S. Jaishankar said this week.
These short sighted policies are at sharp contrast with what have been the most successful companies; like the Indian IT and Telecom majors, who have made more billionaires in India and who live and die protecting the IPR of their vendors and customers. We have much to learn from the principle that we get what we pay for. The same drug or device or procedure for healthcare in India costs far less than the one in the US as the US consumers are paying heavily for the research and development of safe and proven efficacy of drugs for the world. To enjoy the benefits of the system one has to work with the system and not outside it. US consumers often pay over hundred dollars a dose in the US for what in India costs cents. That just makes the US consumer seem an idiot in the Indian’s eyes; and the larger ramifications of the systems remain tied down in a cultural divide, that will be impossible to bridge.
The problem is getting more acute for intellectual property like movies, music, books as rampant piracy over the internet are seriously eroding the rights of the owners of the copyrights and patents to protect themselves. I can easily buy the latest pirated movie, book or music at a fraction of the cost from any sidewalk in the big cities of India; often right around the corner, from the genuine business that is struggling to survive. If I were to file a case in India for protection of my intellectual property; maybe my grandchildren will be able to get to a final settlement, given the current court system case loads and arcane laws, which need to be enforced in the country. I do not mean to pick on India and use it only as an example, as the same violations are equally true for China and many other countries.
The response from policy makers should have been to enforce laws and speed up the reforms that are so severely needed in a modern and open world. If we do not respect the rights of others, then who will respect our own rights? If we do not pay for what we consume, then who will produce it? If we do not invest in enforcing the laws, then what is the point of having them on the books? If we cannot change our mindset, then why blame others for being rigid? If we want to leave more for our children, then do we have to steal from other’s children? If we cannot enforce our own quality, then why do we mock others shoddy products? The questions are endless and the answers are simple.
Do the right thing and enforce the systems that are needed; and get rid of the ones, that are slowing progress. Selective righteousness is morally corrupt. According to Article 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, “everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author”. We need to incentivize human endeavor for the progress of all mankind and international trade will flourish. It has been shown that countries that protect intellectual property have citizens and corporations who are more progressive and aid in the development of all the people, economically and socially. Innovation and intellectual development will flourish if the creator of a new invention can benefit from the protection of his\her rights. Human intellect is the highest achievement of our species and the more we can do to promote the fruits of such endeavors, the better we all will be.

3 thoughts on “Selective righteousness is morally corrupt!

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