India is well on its way to developing a world-class IT sector. For example, on the strength of its dynamic human capital and extensive investments in research and development, it leapt 10 ranking positions in the 2011 edition of the 66-nation IT Industry Competitiveness Index, created for BSA by the Economist Intelligence Unit. But India has made these strides without having a strategic vision for developing and protecting intellectual property. That is, until recently.
This September, in the country’s first major effort to develop a coordinated federal plan to improve IP protections in its fast-growing and increasingly innovative economy, India unveiled a draft National Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Strategy. This was a tremendously encouraging development that acknowledged the central role IP plays in competitiveness and growth.
Currently, IP enforcement is carried out with little coordination between various federal and state agencies. The new strategy calls for the establishment of a National IP Enforcement Task Force, among other steps, to bring a more unified and cohesive approach to enforcement. It also lays out a broad program to raise public awareness about the importance of IP protections. BSA strongly supports these efforts.
As the Indian government finalizes its strategy, there are opportunities for additional improvement. BSA has offered several recommendations in a public submission to the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion. For example, to address the 63 percent rate of PC software piracy in India, we urge the Indian government to include in its IPR strategy specific initiatives to ensure government agencies and corporations use only legal software. We also lay out some needed changes to strengthen India’s copyright law and call for expanded training programs for police, judges, and others involved in IP enforcement.
These recommendations build on a dialogue that BSA began fostering in earnest last November when I led a delegation of software executives to New Delhi for a series of discussions with policymakers and business leaders about India’s opportunity to accelerate IT growth. The Indian government is to be commended for the progress it has made since then in developing a comprehensive IPR strategy. Done right, it will fuel growth in the market for innovative IT products from Indian and foreign companies alike — and it will keep the country’s already vibrant economy moving forward.