Earthbound, IK, TK and Sacred Groves

I started writing Earthbound a couple of years ago and had based it solely on my vivid picturization of India’s north east and also a commercial farming establishment I had visited when I had just started college.

It was basically the story of a young girl who finds herself suddenly transported to a laid back farming estate and a rustic environment. I had therefore based a major chunk of the book on the tribal life of certain parts of India and how a farm was commercialized (and the repercussions and advantages to it in a real world setting).

Turmeric field (pic of the farm I had visited when I was 18 and later used as the setting for my book)
Turmeric field (pic of the farm I had visited when I was 18 and later used as the setting for my book)
The kitchen unit in the farm that inspired a  similar one in the novel
The kitchen unit in the farm that inspired a similar one in the novel

Since I talked about tribal lifestyles and indigenous people (based on my first hand knowledge of a certain community living in the Araku Valley of India), I thought I would use this post to explain certain concepts about the subject in very simple terms.

Indigenous Knowledge (IK) is the knowledge about the environment and surrounds the lifestyles that the indigenous people of different parts of the world pass down orally from generation to generation. This knowledge is usually confined to the people who belong to the ancient indigenous community.

Traditional Knowledge (TK) on the other hand belongs to a culture. It lays basis of how a culture interprets its surroundings and organizes its way of life and this knowledge too is passed down from generation to generation. Traditional knowledge is often brought in by a new settlement at a place where an indigenous population already existed.

A picture I took in Sikkim
A picture I took in Sikkim

IK and TK are also seen as forms of intellectual property and there have been many international laws that aim to preserve these forms of knowledge and also allow their use in scientific research and development of a region, state or a country. An example: In a bid to preserve the ancient knowledge (TK) of India , the Indian Government has set up a repository that includes Indian traditional knowledge of medicine (Ayurveda, Unani, etc )and medicinal formulations and of yoga asanas to protect them from being patented by individuals and organizations from around the globe.

Old Manuscripts
Old Manuscripts

Lastly, though I had not specifically mentioned anything about SACRED GROVES in the book, I think they need mentioning here. Even ancient people knew the importance of preserving nature and it’s delicate ecosystems and how it impacts the quality of life of an individual, a community or a society as a whole.  They knew human survivability was possible as long as the nature was healthy.

I remember that the Discovery Channel used to air a very important message when I was a child of 10 or 12, urging us to ‘use only what we need and it’s not like we can go shopping somewhere else (since we only have one planet).

Our ancestors had realized this long back and they had devised a simple strategy to preserve nature by building holy structures in various parts of forests or even under an ancient tree that was home to many organisms. The idea was to prevent people from over using the available resources or harming the natural balance. It did work. Many of these sacred groves survive till date.

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