Sunday, January 26, 2014

The fact that an awareness that “technologically sophisticated societies arose” in the Americas in advance of European development has only recently come to light means that indigenous lifeways and knowledge systems remain relatively unknown and unacknowledged.

Indigenous or traditional knowledge (TK) is the local knowledge that is unique to a culture or society. This knowledge is passed from generation to generation, usually by word of mouth and cultural rituals, and has been the basis for agriculture, food preparation, health care, education, conservation etc.

  • Traditional knowledge is a systematic way of thinking applied to phenomena across biological, physical, cultural and spiritual systems. 
  • It includes insights based on evidence acquired through direct and long-term experiencesand extensive and multi-generational observations, lessons and skills. 
  • It has developed over millennia and is still developing in a living process, including knowledge acquired today and in the future, and it is passed on from generation to generation .

TK can contribute immensely to shape development and human well-being in a poor country. TK is essential to the food security and health of millions of people. TK can help in improving development strategies like poverty alleviation by making it cost-effective, sustainable and locally manageble and meaningful.

Application of Traditional Knowledge 

Desi Examples 
  • India’s own National rural livelihood Mission which succeeded the SGSY is an example were local resources with minimum skill development has helped the women of rural areas.
  • Another example is the below sea level ecosystem of Kuttinad in Kerala. Here farmers have adopted to grow rice in fields which are situated below sea level. Farmers have used their traditional knowledge to drain saline water after bunding their fields by the use of Bio-Bunds. This is system is called the Punja Rice System where salt tolerant rice varieties are being grown further these are surrounded with estuaries,  ponds and canal with diverse fish wealth thus adding to the farmers income.

  • Besides agriculture women led Cooperative have also used traditional knowledge to bring development for example Shri Mahila Griha Udyog Lijjat Papad where women have used their traditional ingredients with least mechanization to build a world renowned company.

Videshi Example
  • Ethiopia is one of the poorest countries of very low per capita income, distress living standards and precarious food security issues. But a traditionally grown grain called teff has been changing the face of Ethiopia., after the discovery of its nutritional values. Teff is rich in calcium, iron, protein and naturally gluten free. Due to its nutritional values, teff is in demand in the European and American markets. Ideally, it should empower the farmers in Ethiopia. But, there are certain steps government has to take such as irrigation facility utilizing rivers and streams , subsidized power and pesticides; and credible procurement channels with appropriate MSP etc.



What is TKDL ?

India is recognized as a world leader in the fight against misappropriation of TK. India's Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) has set an example for other countries to follow.To combat misappropriation of its TK, and in particular the rich heritage of traditional healthcare systems, the Indian government set up TKDL. 

TKDL is a digitized record of previously published traditional medicinal knowledge, which has been made available to patent offices through non-disclosure access agreements in an effort to prevent the granting of erroneous patents. As such, it provides "defensive" protection (avoidance of IP rights granted to third parties) for TK that is already publicly available. 

While India has put in place an efficient system for combating misappropriation of TK in place, and a number of countries have adopted legislation to protect TK, there is an absence of a framework for the protection of TK at an international level.

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