The Role of NGOs and Social Movements
Chapter 6: India
INTRODUCTION On 31 December 1600, Queen Elizabeth I granted a Royal Charter to the ‘Governor and Company of Merchants of London trading with the East Indies’ and began a process leading to British colonial rule of the Indian subcontinent, administered initially by the East India Company and, from 1858, by the British Crown until independence was secured in 1947. This history is significant because India’s struggle against colonial rule has had profound implications for the culture of social activism that informs Indian NGOs today and, in particular, how human rights principles are used to frame debates on the impact of intellectual property rights on Indian society. The origins of the Indian patent system lie in the Patents Act of 1856, which closely followed the British Patents Act of 1852 (Ragavan 2006, p. 278). Then, following the transfer of rule from the East India Company to the British Crown, subsequent legislative instruments were introduced in the form of the Patents Act 1859, the Patents and Designs Act of 1872 and the Inventions and Designs Act of 1888. These were later consolidated into the Patents and Designs Act of 1911, which was the legislation in force at the time that India became independent. After gaining independence from Britain in 1947, the Indian government set up two committees of enquiry to recommend patent law reforms. The first, the Patents Enquiry Committee (1948–1950), also known as the Tek Chand Committee, concluded that India’s patent provisions enabled foreign companies to obtain patent rights beyond...
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