Since time immemorial, India has possessed a rich traditional knowledge of ways and means practiced to treat diseases afflicting people. This knowledge has generally been passed down by word of mouth from generation to generation. A part of this knowledge has been described in ancient classical and other literature, often inaccessible to the common man and even when accessible rarely understood. Documentation of this existing knowledge, available in public domain, on various traditional systems of medicine has become imperative to safeguard the sovereignty of this traditional knowledge and to protect it from being misappropriated in the form of patents on non-original innovations, and which has been a matter of national concern. India fought successfully for the revocation of turmeric and basmati patents granted by United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) and neem patent granted by European Patent Office (EPO). As a sequel to this, in 1999, the Department of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy-(AYUSH), erstwhile Department of Indian System of Medicine and Homoeopathy (ISM&H) constituted an inter-disciplinary Task Force, for creating an approach paper on establishing a Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL).The project TKDL was initiated in the year 2001.
TKDL provides information on traditional knowledge existing in the country, in languages and format understandable by patent examiners at International Patent Offices (IPOs), so as to prevent the grant of wrong patents. TKDL thus, acts as a bridge between the traditional knowledge information existing in local languages and the patent examiners at IPOs.
TKDL is a collaborative project between Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Ministry of Science and Technology and Department of AYUSH, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, and is being implemented at CSIR. An inter-disciplinary team of Traditional Medicine (Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Yoga) experts, patent examiners, IT experts, scientists and technical officers are involved in creation of TKDL for Indian Systems of Medicine.
The project TKDL involves documentation of the traditional knowledge available in public domain in the form of existing literature related to Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Yoga, in digitized format in five international languages which are English, German, French, Japanese and Spanish. Traditional Knowledge Resource Classification (TKRC), an innovative structured classification system for the purpose of systematic arrangement, dissemination and retrieval has been evolved for about 25,000 subgroups against few subgroups that was available in earlier version of the International Patent Classification (IPC), related to medicinal plants, minerals, animal resources, effects and diseases, methods of preparations, mode of administration, etc.
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