Indigenous Knowledge and Intellectual Property Right: A Discussion in the Context of Andaman Tribes
Indigenous knowledge is not merely a political slogan, but today it has become an economic commodity in the backdrop of WTO regime. At the same time, indigenous activities are understood potentially in a positive way to support conservation of nature. Thus, despite environmentalism being recognized as inseparable part of human life, existing development models offered by various national and international organizations are unable to control the threat to the identity and culture of indigenous people; rather continued destruction of global ecology is increasing. Many models of development using the term “sustainable” give satisfaction to environmentally conscious spirits but are unable to prevent rapid erosion of indigenous knowledge. Despite increasing emphasis on understanding indigenous knowledge as a “pre-existing” form as opposed to individual inventions, these are generally not protectable by patent and copyright protection, and regulation of defensive protection of indigenous knowledge by WTO and other international institutions is an emerging new problem. Defensive aspect of protection is protection claimed by indigenous people against acquisition of IPR by outsiders.
The old, innocent nineteenth-century notion that modern science and technology can provide solution for all our difficulties is not totally true, and it seems incomplete. People have started looking at its limitations and started exploring the indigenous knowledge too. Despite acknowledging the importance of indigenous knowledge, we have not been able to take full benefit of it. As in the case of Andaman and Nicobar, except Nicobarese and Great Andamanese, the rest of the communities are still in hunter-gatherers, and in spite of all the records of their knowledge, the question of learning from them is yet to be solved.
KeywordsIndigenous Knowledge Sustainable Development Local Interaction Traditional Patenting Intellectual property Benefit sharing
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