Advocacy And Policy Analysis
Understanding the critical co-relationship between global development and local actions, SRISTI has taken up the responsibility of policy analysis and advocacy with right earnest. In the field of policy analysis and advocacy, the focus of the efforts has been on academia including the international professional and scientific bodies, governments of various countries including India and business communities. The primary areas of professional intervention have been in the field of agro-biodiversity and integrating its concern in the level of policy formulation, influencing wide range of stakeholders in the field of intellectual property rights, evolving more public opinion on issues of traditional knowledge, bio-diversity, innovations etc.
PAST INITIATIVES IN ADVOCACY AND POLICY ANALYSIS
In the past SRISTI had been in the forefront of advocating the traditional intellectual rights of innovators upon their products, mobilizing the support of various stakeholders to articulate their opinion on issues pertaining to traditional knowledge, grassroots innovations, preservation of bio-diversity etc. Over the years, SRISTI has been able to rope in the support of several major patent attorneys within the country (D K Ahuja & Co, Calcutta) and abroad (THT Boston). SRISTI was also the brain behind the proposal for setting up INSTAR (International Network for Sustainable Technology Applications and Registrations)- a registry system for inventions and innovations to help secure IPR protections for the grassroots innovators. On the request of World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), SRISTI and IIMA had organised a workshop on the IPR of farmers and the workshop was able to touch upon critical issues such as erosion of traditional knowledge, contemporary innovations that need IPR protection, role of NGOs and scientists in the development and value addition of innovations etc. SRISTI has been advising Government of India in the drafting of a new bill on the ratification of CBD (Convention on Biological Diversity) and redesigning the patent law in the country. SRISTI had organised several consultative sessions with private sectors, scientists, activists and development workers for discussing various issues related to the access to bio-diversity. In the past, the efforts of SRISTI were instrumental in setting up Gujarat Grassroots Innovation Augmentation Network (GIAN) and National Innovation Foundation (NIF).
CURRENT FOCUS IN ADVOCACY AND POLICY ANALYSIS
One of the major policy breakthroughs came in the meeting of the advisory group for the consortium on science and technology for sustainable development that took place in Austria from 21-23 June 2004. The International Science Council, Paris set up the advisory group to recommend policies for various scientific associations in the world to promote sustainable development. The advocacy effort was able to highlight the contribution that the grassroots innovations can make in this regard apart from making changes in the education curriculum to make it more responsive to societal aspirations in the developing countries.
The meeting with the Honourable President of India on 18 June 2004 was a major step in highlighting the issues of traditional knowledge, innovation, local knowledge system, conservation and promotion of bio-diversity. Meeting with Union Science & Technology Minister, Mr. Kapil Sibbal and Dr.R.A.Mashelkar, Director General, CSIR was instrumental in highlighting a few policy issues that urgently needed to be pursued such as transfer of grassroots green innovations and traditional knowledge to Africa, legal protection for the innovations and traditional knowledge documented by NIF, creating public pool of innovations for wider dissemination through low cost or no cost licensing fees, to encourage the incorporation of insights acquired from grassroots innovations in the formal education system, starting a five to seven minutes programme at prime time on Prasar Bharti (radio and television) to create awareness and change the mood of the society to prove that creativity counts, knowledge matters and incentive inspires etc. All these issues were discussed along with a structured line of proposed activities to achieve the success in above issues.
The participation in the CSIR Governing Council meeting chaired by Prime Minister on July 26, 2004 helped in highlighting the problem of large database of herbal leads remaining to be harnessed. The recommendation for technology mission on the knowledge based approach to poverty alleviation with focus on tribal regions might take shape in couple of years, if not earlier.
The lecture by Prof. Anil Gupta at the convention of Vice Chancellors of Agricultural Universities on January 12, 2005 at Hariyana Agriculture University, Hisar has already generated several concrete actions such as initiation of steps to start entrepreneurship development programmes in agricultural universities, which are almost conspicuous by absence today, developing linkage between formal and informal science through a much more focused approach, to undertake thorough review of postgraduate research so that the issues affecting sustainability of agriculture are not persistently neglected and inviting innovators to the classroom in various universities to inspire students to start thinking seriously on developing prospects of entrepreneurship development on the basis of grassroots innovations.
The advocacy for the international competition with governments of Brazil, China, South Africa, Uganda and several European countries would materialize shortly. The idea is picking up momentum in England, France and Costa Rica. Discussions have been held with the Ministers of Environment of several countries apart from building linkages with other senior officials.
INITIATIVES IN THE FIELD OF IPR (INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY RIGHTS)
SRISTI has made all possible efforts in bringing favourable changes in IPR regimes to benefit the knowledge rich and resource poor grassroots innovators. Over the last three years, SRISTI has filed patent rights for six grassroots innovations in US and out of them three have been granted US patents. They include the cotton stripping machine innovated by Mansukh Bhai Patel, multiple use oriented tractor by Bhanji Bhai Mathukai and the adaptive agricultural machine by Mansukh Bhai Jagani. Recently SRISTI undertook the exercise of updating tables and generating new data for patent advocacy after examining more than 60,000 patents.