“I don’t understand maths. But still, I made an effort to wake up at 5.30 a.m. every morning to solve maths problems, but to no use. I feel these problems are not at all relevant and useful”, a high school student in Karnataka frankly admitted this in his SSLC answer sheet, as reported yesterday in the Hindu. Various other answers such as chicken curry recipes, heartfelt appeals for pass marks are also apparently common place in math exams. Though these may seem humorous to the public, it shows, at least to some extent, the growing anguish in students. As it is, the current syllabus seems insurmountable to them but now to add to their woes Hindustan Unilever is suggesting to the government to add Intellectual Property Rights as a separate subject in the curriculum for school children! As reported by the Economic Times, Dev Bajpai the executive director for legal and corporate affairs at HUL said “We have proposed to the government that intellectual property should be part of the syllabus in schools because we feel we have to catch them young”. This was a suggestion made by HUL to the new National IP Policy.
Estimates suggest that counterfeit products account for 3 to 5% of all products sold in the Rs 2.4-lakh-crore FMCG market in India. This translates into over Rs 8,000-12,000 crore of loss in sales for branded products each year(here). Therefore, loss of sales and brand dilution are concerns that owners of reputed trademarks have. In light of these facts, HUL has been making presentations to students to increase their awareness about trademark infringements. This is beneficial as it makes them aware of counterfeit products which are spilling into the market. Awareness building though a very constructive program, especially in relation to intellectual property rights in India, should be limited to that and should not be made into a subject (at school level) to be evaluated in exams.
To sum it up, as famously sung by Pink Floyd “…We don’ t need no thought control….Leave them kids alone!”