(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Reconsidering Indigenous Knowledge System

(GIST OF KURUKSHETRA) Reconsidering Indigenous Knowledge System


Reconsidering Indigenous Knowledge System


  • Indigenous knowledge is a new focus in development discourse. Growing numbers of scientists and organisations are recognizing that it offers cheap, locally adapted solutions to development problems, or that it can be melded with scientific knowledge to boost productivity and living standards. Therefore, policymakers need to pursue several steps to include IKS into mainstream knowledge and innovation narrative.

Key highlights: 

  • In view of localisation of SDGs, IKS should be placed as a prerequisite for achieving SDGs. The training and capacity development required to promote IKS should be located within the UN-SDG framework.
  • The complementary nature of indigenous and scientific knowledge systems needs to be recognised. The key is to provide both knowledge systems with more opportunities in which they can inform, educate and stimulate one another. There is a need for more research on IKS and wider dissemination of those findings. It is also important to establish a dedicated research lab to validate and accredit various indigenous innovations. Science can help mobilise traditional knowledge through preparing guidelines on methods for obtaining, assessing, and presenting traditional conservation knowledge and preparing an inventory of traditional knowledge systems.
  • Various ministries and Government departments [such as Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Tribal Research Institute (TRIs)] who are directly or indirectly working on tribal issues must create a National Consortium of Indigenous Knowledge Resource Centre. There is a need to document indigenous knowledge and innovation. For preservation and expansion, there is a need to develop a template for collecting this information and have proper documentation in place. Each region has a repository of indigenous knowledge and we need to document it and pass it on to our future generations to preserve these valuable knowledge systems.
  • A strong legal framework is also the need of the hour that facilitates social participation, indigenous practices, and the protection and conservation of indigenous knowledge and resources.
  • Intellectual Property Right (IPR) and Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) are also issues of great concern. All stakeholders such as Government, corporations and researchers should continue to be held socially and ethically responsible for R&D and product development involving Indigenous People and their knowledge. The collaborations and partnerships must reinforce the best ethical standards and ABS principles.
  • Indigenous communities are frequently perceived as disappearing in social and cultural forms and therefore, they do not appear in the curriculum of the formal school system. However, students need skills and knowledge to enable them to work in indigenous and non-indigenous economies and contexts. There is a critical need to analyse National Educational Policy and identify public policy initiatives that would allow indigenous knowledge components to be added into the curricula of secondary schools, universities, and extension training institutes.
  • Full and effective participation of indigenous communities in various decision-making institutions related to their society, economy and culture is imperative. At the same time, the Government must recognise and respect indigenous institutions and incorporate strategies that respond to the particular needs and visions of those communities in form of various policies of livelihood, education and healthcare.
  • Local institutions such as Panchayats can also play a crucial role in 

(a) uncovering and validating Indigenous Knowledge, 

(b) including representation of Indigenous people, 

(c) creating a local level Consortium for Indigenous Knowledge (CIK), and 

(d) helping indigenous entrepreneurs to formalise by connecting them to different Government scheme and programmes.

  • Emerging issues such as 

(a) need for policies and disaggregated data in order to address indigenous peoples' issues and protect their rights, 

(b) resolution of conflicts involving indigenous peoples, and 

(c) displacement of indigenous peoples, migration, urbanisation and so on are also important while discussing IKS.

Way ahead:

  • The larger goal should be towards creating new, more effective knowledge systems that merge the positive aspects of indigenous and scientific knowledge systems. Role of training, research and extension institutions, social scientists can become a part of the process of both mediating between indigenous and scientific knowledge systems and orienting research toward accomplishing these more socio-economically just and ecologically sustainable systems. In addressing forward looking strategies, it is important that indigenous peoples' rights are considered in a holistic way.



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Courtesy: Kurukshetra