Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Binsar Conference on Traditional Knowledge Systems 2013

“The 21st Century needs Traditional Knowledge Systems”, Dr D P Agrawal

Binsar, Uttarakhand, April 11, 2013

Kumaon Himalay from Khali Estate Binsar

G S Rautela

Vibha Mishra

O C Handa
Shivanand Kanavi, G S Rautela, D P Agrawal, Shabbir Imani, Shekhar Pathak

D P Agrawal and Shivanand Kanavi

Yours Truly

Shekhar Pathak, Vasudha Pant

At the Conference on Traditional Knowledge Systems held in Khali Estate, Binsar, Uttarakhand April 8-11, 2013, organized by Lok Vigyan Kendra, Almora in collaboration with  SPARDHA, over thirty research papers were presented and discussed by scholars from Uttarakhand and other parts of India.
The topics covered a wide range of subjects about natural resources, arts and crafts, medicinal plants and therapeutic systems, metallurgy, agriculture, water management, hydraulics etc etc of various parts of Himalay as well as other parts of India. Prominent scholars in the field also deliberated on the future of these Traditional Knowledge Systems; balanced economic development of Uttarakhand; and employment generation and entrepreneurship.

Many well-known scholars like Ajay Rawat, G S Rautela, D P Agrawal, Shekhar Pathak, O C Handa, Vibha Tripathi, Krishna Bisht, Vasudha Pant, Shahida Ansari, Jivan Kharakwal, Madhu Jain, Shabbir Irmani, Shivanand Kanavi, Mukti Dutta, Diva Bhatt, C S Chauhan, Lalit Jalal, Kailash Rautela, Deepchand Bisht deliberated for three days various aspects of Traditional Knowledge Systems, moreover a large number of students from Kumaon region actively participated in this important conference.
At the end of the conference the distinguished gathering discussed at length the vision and direction for future work in this field and unanimously adopted an important Vision Document: Binsar Declaration 2013.

Binsar Declaration 2013
Uttarakhand region has been an important cradle of Indian civilization, its philosophy and way of life. It has not only been the source of the life-giving holy Ganga and Yamuna but also knowledge and wisdom. While our Shastras have well documented for millennia all these things, what is not very well known is the richness of Traditional Knowledge Systems of this region that have been largely in the oral form.

These Traditional Knowledge Systems have great value in today’s world where the balance in our life is being lost by the relentless onslaught of consumerist globalization and changes in the Indian and world economy. However this knowledge which has resided in our people’s arts, crafts, health care systems, agriculture, metallurgy, forestry, animal husbandry, water management, architecture, cuisine etc is on the verge of being lost to future generations due to displacement, migration and onslaught of mindless urbanization and poor education, which is driving us to unhesitatingly reject our own heritage and wisdom while accepting everything Western indiscriminately.

1)      For the sake of our present as well as future generations, it is imperative that we research these knowledge systems which are mainly in the oral form and document them with modern electronic and digital technology to preserve and popularize them. It is necessary to scientifically validate their claims and if possible provide protection to their Intellectual Property in various forms, which will have economic reasons as well as gain them greater acceptability and visibility. It may also be possible to revive some of them under modern conditions for the economic benefit of its practitioners and the larger benefit of society.

2)      The Binsar Conference 2013 on Traditional Knowledge Systems appeals to all intelligentsia, artisans, and practitioners of traditional knowledge; academics in universities colleges and research institutions; the youth and our elders; to participate in this endeavor and verily develop this into a living mass movement. It appeals to all our elected representatives and the government to support this endeavor with all their resources and administrative capabilities.

3)      While our hills and our Rishi-Munis and Gurus have brought wisdom and peace to the world and all visitors to the region, the economic changes brought about by British colonialism and now globalization have gravely affected our life and has led to large scale migration. While the diaspora of Uttarakhand are contributing productively to the Indian economy and global economy and have brought fame to our region, it is also a fact that many of the youth do not have required skills, expertise or entrepreneurship to dramatically improve the quality of their life in this highly competitive world.

4)      This Binsar Conference 2013 on Traditional Knowledge Systems also urges the government and all our elected representatives to urgently take steps towards skill development and creating an ecosystem required for developing and entrepreneurial culture among the youth of Uttarakhand for a balanced and all round growth of this region and its people. Setting up an Uttarakhand Centre for Entrepreneurship would be a first step in this direction.

The participants of Binsar Conference 2013 will take concrete steps to take these decisions forward and will work with all individuals and organisations that have similar aim in mind. They once again call upon the researchers, practitioners, academics, youth and students to make this a mass movement and call upon our elected representatives and the government to wholeheartedly support these initiatives.