Vandana Shiva:”United States patent system is somewhat perverted”

Q: You describe a dramatic case in which some American researchers traveled to India and basically co-opted time-honored and widely known folk-remedies for purely commercial purposes.


Shiva: Absolutely. I have called this phenomenon of stealing common knowledge and indigenous science “biopiracy” and “intellectual piracy.” According to patent systems we shouldn’t be able to patent what exists as “prior art.” But the United States patent system is somewhat perverted. First of all, it does not treat the prior art of other societies as “prior art.” Therefore anyone from the United States can travel to another country, find out about the use of a medicinal plant, or find a seed that farmers use, come back here, claim it as an invention or an innovation, take a patent on it, and grab an exclusive right to the use of the products or processes that are linked to that knowledge.


Allen Ginsberg:”India has a more intimate awareness of the relation between people and God”

So afler almost a year and a half in India, what did you find there that you had not found in the West? 


Allen Ginsberg:  A more intimate awareness of the relation between people and God. Just the very notion of Ganesh with a noose in one hand and a rasgoolla in the other, and his trunk in the rasgoolla, riding a mouse…. Such an idea of a god, such a sophisticated, quixotic, paradoxical combination of the human and the divine, the metaphysical and the psychological! You don’t often get that in Christianity, except maybe in some esoteric Christianity. The idea of an entire culture suffused with respect for that mythology, that religion and its practices, that poor people could under- stand its sophistication and grant things that hard-headed West- erners are still trying to kill each other over. That was a revelation: how deeply the sense of a spiritual existence could penetrate everyday relations, the streets and street signs . . . Naga sadhus walking around naked—people who would have been arrested in America . . . or for that matter—I remember writing to Kerouac—everybody walking around in their underwear, in striped boxer shorts. What would seem outrageous or strange to Americans was just normal—it was hot and people wore very light cotton—it seemed so obvious. That showed me the absurd artificiality of some American customs. . . . And then just the notion of somebody being a businessman and then renouncing the world and being a sannyasi and going around with an intel- ligent expression looking for moksha, that was such a switch from the American notion of business, such a good model, but it doesn’t work for even Indians now. . . . A n d then the availability of ganja and its use in religious festivals and ceremonies was a great source of release for an American used to government dictatorship of all psychedelic drugs (even marijuana), to prohi- bitions, murders, beatings, corruption.8 At least in India there was some familiarity with what it was.

Rahul Dravid :”There are a lot more disadvantaged people than you and you can’t really be complaining about small things”

Q: Do you sometimes feel that you have not got enough accolades? Does that drive you to do better?
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Dravid: I’ve never really worried about that. People keep telling me that maybe you don’t get the recognition you deserve, but I think I’ve got enough. In my own mind I’m very comfortable. I think I’ve got a hell of a lot of recognition. When I look around me and I look at the other cricketers of India who’ve also done well, the number of guys who play first class cricket for years, there can be no complaint. Outside of cricket, you look around and see so many guys who struggle day and day out and get nowhere near the reward for the effort they put in. Living in India you just see it every day, it’s in your face. There a lot more disadvantaged people than you and you can’t really be complaining about small things. I’m very comfortable and happy with what I’ve got. I think I’m recognised and rated for my work by colleagues and peers. A lot of nice things have been written about me in these 15 years and I’m very comfortable.

Gulzar :”You have to protect what you love”

Q: What draws you to children’s literature?


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Gulzar :One of the reasons I left film direction was my work for children. I may not get a chance later. I wasn’t born with innumerable years and this is what I want to do with the years I have left. In India, we love our children, but we haven’t done enough for them. At least where literature’s concerned, we have only provided books and translations from the West, or adapted texts for them. These are not very good efforts. In fact, it lacks genuine affection and responsibility. You have to protect what you love, but we haven’t done enough to protect our children. We leave a lot of our responsibilities to teachers, maidservants, ayahs. In joint families, grandparents would come forward and take care of children; nanas and nanis, dadas and dadis would tell stories, hum folk songs and perform small mimes for them. Especially now, when parents are working and there are no joint families anymore, parents have to ask themselves if they are satisfied with the extent of their own involvement. What we do is, we make them sit in front of the television and watch Tom and Jerry and other inane shows. Inevitably, the child is becoming more and more lonely.

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