The People’s Biodiversity Festival at Nampally exhibition grounds witnessed a turnout of 3,000 people on Sunday. People from all walks of life experienced the real biodiversity of the nation, and the festival saw a number of new stalls springing up enthused by the public response.
School students toured the festival with their teachers and joined the celebrations of cultural heritage. Gond adivasis from Utnoor area of Adilabad, with their unique attire and headgear, thrilled the festival participants with their traditional Gussadi dance performance.
Environmentalist Dr Vandana Shiva, the main speaker of the discussion session on intellectual property rights explained the deceptive underpinnings of the patents regime, which goes against how natural resources and diversity were protected for thousands of years.
Several participants shared their experiences and views, including Dr Sagari Ramdas of Anthra, Vaikunta, a savara adivasi from Srikakulam district, Dadaji Kobragade, a seed breeder from Maharashtra who developed the famous HMT wheat variety, Jaiprakash, seed breeder from Chhattisgarh and Dr Umashankari, organic farmer from Chittoor district.
The session was anchored by Jacob Nellithanam of Riccharia campaign, Chhattisgarh. All the experts, farmers and adivasis unanimously rejected the regime of intellectual property rights in seeds, forest resources and other natural resources.
The session strongly opposed the Nagoya protocol of access and benefit-sharing which is being pushed in the Convention of Biological Diversity (CBD) discussions. Vaikunta, savara adivasi from Srikakulam district said, “Our concept of profit and benefit are very different - if everything is converted into money, we lose the real benefit of diversity. In our view, the real benefit means that we should be able to hand over the wealth of our diversity to our future generations.”
In total there were 75 stalls by almost 65 organisations and networks, who are working on different natural products, from more than 15 States in India. It was a colourful festival with lot of hangings, posters, articrafts, designer hand-woven clothes, and rich nutritious food including organic millets, varieties of red rice and cuisine made from organically grown vegetables and grains. Many participants felt they gained rich food and knowledge.
In the evening, a colorful cultural programme was organized by students of Tata Institute of Social Sciences, followed by adivasi cultural performance.