India: Discussions with business leaders at CEO Forum & patent laws among other topics to be discussed during Obama's visit
US President Barack Obama will start a three-day landmark trip to India on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's invitation to build on what he has said will be one of the defining relationships of the 21st century. Obama, who is the first US president to be invited as the chief guest at the Republic Day parade, will disucss some of the key issues at hand including of strategic importance, counter-terrorism engagemnet, defence, economic ties, civil nuclear & renewable energy with governmnet of India. Cyrus Mistry, Chairman of Tata Sons, will lead the Indian side to the forum of top chief executives from India and US. David M Cote from Honeywell will co-chair CEO forum from US side. While many are delighted with the agenda of discussions among the US President & Indian Prime Minster, health activists & organizations have expressed concern over the US government’s heightened efforts to undermine access to affordable medicines from India. They are particularly concerned about dilution of Section 3(d) of the Patent Act of 1970 that allegedly restricts the vested business interest of pharmaceutical companies in US and EU in India.
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Author: Amit Bhandari, American Bazaar
If a US nuclear company were to build a reactor in India that suffered a catastrophe, and people were to die in India, the US government’s position seems to be that American suppliers shouldn’t face civil or criminal liability. The US believes the Indian civil nuclear liability law, which calls for both penalties, is unduly harsh. Rather than say so directly, US officials keep repeating that the “Indian law is inconsistent with the international liability regime”...Although the Indian government wants to protect US nuclear companies against the Indian liability law, critics argued that these companies are using India’s eagerness to avoid any liability, if something goes wrong...India wants to build more nuclear power plants in an attempt to reduce the share of coal in electricity generation. Increasing the use of nuclear power is also a part of the country’s strategy to tackle climate change.
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Author: M V Ramana & Suvrat Raju, Hindu
...[T]he FAQs assert that the liability act, ipso facto, takes away the rights of victims to sue suppliers even under other laws. If this interpretation of the law is correct, then it implies that suppliers cannot be prosecuted even for criminal negligence...This provides a striking example of double standards. Under U.S. law, suppliers can be held legally responsible for accidents. Consequently, for decades, the U.S. refused to join any international convention that would require it to legally indemnify suppliers. When it engineered the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, it inserted a “grandfather clause” to ensure that it would not have to alter its own law. In contrast, the Indian government seems willing to meekly surrender the rights of its citizens.
Govt answers to Frequently Asked Questions and Answers on Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act 2010 and related issues
Author: Ministry of External Affairs, Govt of India
The FAQs, put out by the MEA are to be used by companies to negotiate commercial contracts to restart India's civil nuclear sector. The FAQs released are also intended to answer questions swirling around after India and US reached a nuclear understanding during Obama's visit.
Author: Elizabeth Roche, Mint
India...revealed the details of its talks with the US to operationalize their long-stalled civil nuclear cooperation pact, clarifying that liability in the case of a nuclear accident would rest primarily with the operator of nuclear power plants. According to the details...press release put out by the ministry of external affairs, the operator of the nuclear plant can seek damages from the supplier or manufacturer of equipment if their initial contract allows for it...The clarifications are expected to provide relief to companies—both Indian and foreign—that were previously reluctant to enter the Indian nuclear power market, given that the (Civil Liability for Nuclear Damage Act) CLNDA seemed to place the onus of liability in the event of an accident on the suppliers and manufacturers of equipment rather than on the operator.
Author: Rupam Jain Nair, Business Today
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday told a conclave of Indian and US corporate chiefs that the government is ready to accept suggestions made by a joint working group with the United States on intellectual property rights.
Author: Seema Mustafa, Citizen
...US-India civilian nuclear agreement that generated huge controversy...The Hyde Act...seeking to protect Indian interests insisted, in the wake of the Bhopal gas tragedy, that the liability for compensation in case of a nuclear accident rested not with the operator (India) but the supplier (the US nuclear companies). It also ensured that the US did not have the rights to track the nuclear fuel being used in Indian reactors. Both these provisions were not acceptable to the US, the reverse was not acceptable to India, and the deal fell through...PM Modi and US President Barack Obama...addressed a joint press conference and again the nuclear deal emerged as the centrepiece of the ‘new understanding’ and as both said ‘natural partnership.’ But they gave no details...Foreign secretary Sujatha Singh...declared that the deal was done, but was unable to give details that could conclusively prove that this had been done without compromising Indian interests....The details remain vague, strange.
India’s Compensation for Nuclear Liability and Damages law remain unchanged, risk assessment transferred to commercial opeartors & suppliers
Author: Suhasini Haider, Hindu
Prime Minister Modi and President Obama announced a “breakthrough understanding” that would allow the commercialization of the Indo-US civilian nuclear deal launched in 2005...The breakthrough also signaled a significant diplomatic victory for India’s stand that it would not dilute its liability law, although it will almost definitely mean a higher cost to any nuclear deal concluded with US companies than was earlier anticipated....In effect, Indian officials were able to convince US officials to clear the logjam by transferring the “risk assessment” to the commercial operators and suppliers, i.e. GE-Hitachi and Westinghouse...the President of the US India Business Council Diane Farrell called the agreement “A good first step. But...will still need some more technical commentary about some of these proposed changes and solicit a response from companies.”
Author: Shweta Rajpal Kohli, NDTV Profit
Prime Minster Narendra Modi has promised 50 top CEOs from the US and India speedy redressal of their business-related problems and has pitched the need for "heavy investment in infrastructure and agriculture in the country to boost purchasing power and improve the economy..."It helps to know how investors feel about how the government should work," PM Modi said, thanking the business leader for flagging issues...Critical issues like visa impediments for professionals, intellectual property rights and a bilateral investment treaty are also expected to be discussed
Author: Debobrat Ghose, Firstpost
...The issue of nuclear liability had been a bone of contention on reaching an agreement. As per the international norms, in case of any accident, the Indian government would have to pay heavy damages because all the nuclear plants in the country are run by the state-owned Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL)...India had ruled out changes in its 2010 liability legislation but offered to set up an insurance pool to indemnify companies that build reactors in the country against liability in case of a nuclear accident...The deadlock over the nuclear deal has been done away with during a one-on-one talk between PM Modi and President Obama...As per a new plan, those companies engaged in building nuclear reactors in India would buy insurance from the state-run reinsurer GIC Re. The companies would then recoup the cost by charging more for their services. Alternatively, the NPCIL would take out insurance on behalf of these companies.