‘Identity and heritage of Nagas is under threat’
Kohima, Oct. 4 (EMN): The chief scientific officer, department of Science and Technology, Zavie Hiese on Friday said that the identity and heritage of Nagas is under threat, while speaking at the one-day state-level workshop on geographical indication and intellectual property rights (IPL).
“We are facing a very important crisis today as the very heritage and identity of the Nagas is at stake. We say that Nagas are unique and we have a unique culture, dresses and attires that separate us from the others but we are now facing a threat of identity theft,” Hiese stated.
He was speaking on the theme “Reach for Gold: Protecting Indigenous and Traditional Heritage Through Intellectual Property Rights”.
The workshop was organised by Patent Information Centre and Biotechnology Hub Nagaland Science and Technology Council (NASTEC) and department of Science and Technology, Government of Nagaland, at Hotel Japfű in Kohima on October 4.
He said that unless we protect our culture and identity legally,’ someday it will belong to someone.’ He also stated that Nagas should not only file geographical indication and then ignore it later, but should get the benefit out of it and develop their economy as well as identity and moral values.
The main aim of the programme was to place focus on the NGOs and line government departments to educate and create awareness about the richness of local resources. It was also aimed at protecting Naga’s traditional knowledge and learn how to be custodians of their indigenous property, and to document the traditional knowledge system associated among the local community related to various indigenous uses, and the importance of the natural resources through various branches of intellectual property rights (IPRs).
Mmhonlumo Kikon, advisor of Science and Technology, IT and NRE, stated that the “idea that emerged from ancestors with their own creative minds especially when it comes to the various designs of the shawls is our very identity.” He appealed to the people to protect the colourful and vibrant design today, in the age of globalisation.
“Geographical indication will protect our traditional knowledge and it will ensure that our knowledge is not marketed and benefitted by others, and even when it is done, we will be the beneficiary because we are the producers,” he said.
He stated that it was necessary in this age and time that the people make use of the geographical indication act and the process that the government has enforced for their protection. He added that “unless we do that in the storm of commercialisation, we will lose out”, and stressed on the need to “ensure that the genius of our ancestors is properly protected with the laws that exist today.”
“If the laws that exist today is alien to you, if you do not grasp it or understand it, you are failing your ancestors,” he stated. We must pledge to protect the legacy we have inherited, he added.
Chitra Arvind, patent attorney, partner LEX IP Care, New Delhi, while presenting on IPR and how to protect indigenous and traditional heritage, said that geographical indication will give “quality, reputation and other characteristics attributing to origin”. “Stop others from stealing the creation of your mind”, she said adding that is a tool against abuse of traditional knowledge.
Nesatalu Hiese, scientist, NASTEC, also stated in her presentation that Nagas are losing their identity with the influence of modern technologies. “The Naga shawl is unique for its textures and typical traditional design patterns. The colourful combination of designs, patterns, and traditional motifs, made with natural dyes which are prepared from the typical vegetation found in Nagaland used in the shawls are unique and not found in any other parts known so far,” she stated, adding that the people should seek to protect and promote their traditional heritage.
She also said that geographical indication is important as it will enable local populace to derive economic benefit out of their production and also preserve their local culture, identity, traditional knowledge and resources. She also appealed to the horticulture department of Nagaland to promote Naga King chilly products across the world.