India At The Forefront Of Knowledge Commons Debate

An article by Frederick Noronha includes:

NEW DELHI - What do seeds have in common with software? Or age-old medicines with copyright lawyers? And, what’s the link between ayurvedic medicines and techies talking free software in Bangalore?

I first read this article on the same weekend that I was visiting a family friend. My in-laws were born in India, and many of our family friends were also born in India with their children born and growing up here.

We were talking about educational systems. I was expressing my view that I worry about North America as we are moving to a knowledge economy and yet our educational system and most knowledge-based businesses are stuck in the industrial era. I spoke about the global economic inefficiencies involved in industrial-era "marginal cost" (royalty/etc) based business models. I also spoke about the competitive environment in classrooms in India and how children there are learning advanced topics much earlier than their Western counterparts.

Frederick's article talks about appropriation of traditional knowledge and of India being accepted globally on PCT issues. I think the issue was looked at a bit backwards, with India being far more engaged in a knowledge economy that isn't tied to backward industrial-era thinking than the countries that allegedly must "accept" it. I believe there are ways to be accepted and to move forward, with the increasing use and participation in peer production and peer distribution (Free/Libre and Open Source Software, etc) being part of this. The only viable way to solve so-called PCT "piracy" worldwide is to move away from legacy business models for knowledge that depend on marginal costs, and India is ahead of the west on this critical modernization.

I believe that unless Canada and other western countries don't turn around from current paths (Such as seen in the 1996 WIPO treaties and other such industrial-era thinking being applied to knowledge), we will be in a future knowledge economy where we are looked at in the same way that "under-developed" (really meaning less industrialized) economies were in the old economy.