Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Exploring the Fences Pertaining to Non Espousal of Traditional Knowledge Based Medicines at Shervaroy Hills, Eastern Ghats, India

Academic journal article Asian Social Science

Exploring the Fences Pertaining to Non Espousal of Traditional Knowledge Based Medicines at Shervaroy Hills, Eastern Ghats, India

Article excerpt


This paper reports on an exploratory research work carried out aiming to identify the barriers in the usage of traditional medicines by the holders of the knowledge. The focus is on the usage of the traditional medicines by the homogenous people, Malayali tribe community at Shervaroy hills of Eastern Ghats. Semi-structured interviews were conducted among the tribe community of the area. Where the knowledge has been passed on from generations making the traditional medicinal knowledge strongly imbibed in their culture, the research findings divulged the reasons as to why in spite of having immense knowledge on traditional medicines these tribe community are opting for codified from of medicines. This report also explored the understanding of older generation in the context of holders of the traditional medicinal knowledge among the Malayali tribe community. The conclusion supports the implementation of existing policies stringently with recommendations so as to draw closer towards the three objectives enshrined in the Convention of Biodiversity and Biological Diversity Act, 2002. This paper contributes to the policy makers, pharmaceutical companies, non-governmental organizations and the holders of traditional medicinal knowledge so as to collaborate, in the process, protecting and promoting the traditional knowledge in medicinal plants.

Keywords: Malayali tribe community, Shervaroy hills, traditional medicine and policy making

1. Introduction

In today's competitive world, knowledge economy plays a vital role, hence leading to many Intellectual Property (IP) thefts. One such booming area but suffering lack of support and training from the government is Traditional Knowledge (TK), though it has acknowledged appreciation as being balancing to, corresponding with, and pertinent to scientifically knowledge (Tavana, 1997). The question that ponders now is 'whether TK will live to tell the tale to the new millennium' (Turner et al., 2000). TK though has no definitions in any statute or legislations, various understandings have been made including World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) as to what it is (WIPO, 2001). TK is broader in terms of comparison with Indigenous Knowledge (IK) and they are used interchangeably (Dutfield, 2003). TK can be handicrafts, folklore and medicinal knowledge. Many TK of mega bio-diverse rich countries where India is one among them have been patented by developed countries. Examples that could be cited are Kumari, Amaltas, Kala Jeera to name a few (Usha & Annadurai, 2012). Apart from the above, some other examples of patents based on traditional Indian medicine that can be cited are the anti-fungal properties of neem, turmeric for healing wounds, and a diabetes drug made from extract of jamun, which patents were fortunately revoked. The cases involving Maasai people of Kenya and Tuareg or Touareg, North African tribal inhabitants where the word 'Maasai' is used in association with a range of commodities from Land Rover cars, to running shoes, to Louis Vuitton towels, hats, scarves and bags as also in tourism and hospitality services, while Volkswagen manufactures the SUV Touareg (Mukherjee, 2013).

These 'wrong patents' on TK itself became evidence on the importance of economic aspects of TK at a global level and therefore valuing it as an Intellectual Property (IP). In this regard WIPO has taken many initiatives to control the bio-piracy issues across the globe, the Nagoya and Cartagena protocols being a knock to the developed nations. But considering the case of Kani tribe and it's so called only successful model in India for benefit sharing, there can be included any 'person' and not just developed nations in following the code of ethics. The scientists have not done justice to the Kani tribe. The Kani tribe community was not happy with the Jeevani drug in the market as the secrets of the same have been divulged into, hence not remaining a secret any more (Bijoy, 2007). …

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