Emerging paradigm on traditional knowledge: Content, documentation andclassical approaches to testing

Balasubramanian, A V


In any functional and dynamic society there is a continuous review of the existing knowledge, practices andtechnologies in varied areas. Knowledge from multiple sources including tradition, modernity and innovation and adaptationof both of these take place in a dynamic manner. In India, we have an unusual situation – on the one hand there are traditionsin varied areas including specific technologies such as agriculture, medicine, textiles, metallurgy, etc. as well as theoreticalsciences including mathematics, grammar, linguistics, logic, etc. that have survived for several centuries if not millennia.During the colonial period, there were knowledge systems and practices drawn from colonial sources and imposed upon ourinstitutions that began to occupy all public spaces. This is a trend that has continued well after independence. Currently, thetraditional knowledge systems occupy a very marginal place and receive very little support or resources or patronage fromthe state. In terms of public discourse on this matter, it is often stated explicitly or implied that choices of technology aremade solely based on their scientific validity and it is on these grounds that traditional knowledge is found wanting. Thisarticle reviews some recent developments in this area – to begin with we review the nature and social organization oftraditional knowledge. Then we go on to look at knowledge in the specific domains of agriculture as well as healthcare and arecent effort for the comprehensive documentation of traditional knowledge across all domains. We then look at testing andvalidation efforts that have taken place along traditional/classical lines. Examples are cited from the area of agriculture. It isseen that there is overwhelming evidence in favour of the validity of such knowledge.


Documentation, Knowledge, Testing, Tradition, Validation

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