Suramya's Blog : Welcome to my crazy life…

February 12, 2009

India Partners with EU to prevent India’s traditional medicinal knowledge from Biopiracy

Filed under: My Thoughts,News/Articles — Suramya @ 10:58 PM

India has a huge medical repository that is not available online anywhere. In some cases the knowledge is not even written down but is passed verbally from teacher to student. For example there was a Vaidh (Ayurvedic Doctor) in my mom’s village who was an expert but none of his knowledge was ever written down. Unfortunately his son wasn’t interested in medicine so when he passed away all his knowledge was lost.

This initiative will help document the repository of knowledge and prevent bio-piracy from happening. So now that the database is up the people providing the patents will know that the healing properties of “Neem” for example are well known for thousands of years and they can’t award a patent on it.

Here’s some background information on how the database came to be created and was set up:

The genesis of this maiden Indian effort dates back to the year 2000, when an interdisciplinary Task Force of experts was set up by AYUSH and CSIR, to devise a mechanism on protection of India’s traditional knowledge. The TKDL expert group estimated that about 2000 number of wrong patents concerning Indian systems of medicine were being granted every year at international level, mainly due to the fact that, India’s traditional medicine knowledge exists in languages such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Arabic, Urdu, Tamil etc. and was neither accessible nor understood by patent examiners at the international patent offices due to language and format barriers.

The TKDL breaks these barriers and has been able to scientifically convert and structure the information available in languages like Hindi, Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian, Urdu and Tamil, in open domain text books into five international languages, namely, English, Japanese, French, German and Spanish, with information contents in 30 million A4 size pages, with the help of Information Technology tools and a novel classification system – Traditional Knowledge Resource Classification (TKRC).

What I would love to see happen (which is probably not going to) is that this database be opened to the public also so anyone can search through it and see the medical advances that India had/has made in the past few thousand years. Afterall most of the stuff in there is already “common knowledge”

Additional Information: PIB Press Release

Thanks to Open… for the link.

– Suramya

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