Traditional Knowledge Digital Library

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= TKDL, Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, is an Indian initiative



Frederick Noronha:

"This Indian government initiative based in New Delhi is aimed at building a database of traditional knowledge that “enables the protection of such information from getting misappropriated.”

Since an interdisciplinary team began work in October 2001, the TKDL has completed the transcription of 36,000 ayurvedic formulations into English, German, French, Spanish and Japanese. It made a presentation at the International Patent Classification Union in Geneva in the past.

TKDL Director Dr. V. K. Gupta said at the conference: “TKDL deals with traditional knowledge and the issue of patents. We’re not focused on getting patents, but on preventing its misappropriation.”

“Knowledge from the fields of [Indian systems of medicine like] Ayurveda or Siddha are very well documented. But the problem is that of language. This knowledge is documented in languages like Sanskrit, Hindi, Arabic, or Persian. Books about them are not available at international patent offices. So, there’s no understanding [about how ancient this knowledge really is],” said Gupta.

Gupta pointed out that if anything is pre-known, then existing intellectual property rights (IPR) laws do not allow it to be patented. “A majority of the patents [taken on Indian knowledge] is by expatriate Indians or multinational corporations. There are about 2,000 patents which have been wrongly issued, in our view. Each takes 11 years to fight. How do you resolve this problem?” he asked.

So TKDL’s approach is to document traditional knowledge. “We’ve done it for around 70,000 formulations in Ayurveda, and some more in the Unani and Siddha,” he added. TKDL’s team of a hundred persons have been working on this for the past five years." (

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