Introduction– Indian tribes or otherwise commonly known as Adivasi, Vanyajati, Pahari, Vanvasi, Girijan etc. have a very vast historical background. But having so much of their significance in our history, culture and traditions they are being given the least importance and as a result their art and craft, practices, music, handicrafts, dance and way of life is dying slowly. Apart from this the tribes of India have a huge role towards the Independence of India. Birsa Munda is an icon for many youths today. Birsa Munda lived a very short period of life but his contribution for Independent India is immense. Birsa Munda belonged to the Munda Tribe from Jharkhand who successfully mobilised the tribal community to revolt against the British to save the land and rights of the Tribal. But the social, economic and political upliftment of the tribes in India is utmost necessary. And one of the ways to uplift the tribes is to give emphasize on their Intellectual Property Rights. In this article I have dealt with who are tribes and their distinctive way of life and what is intellectual property rights and how it is important for the tribes in India.
Now it is important to know what is the meaning of the word tribe?
There is no such strict definition or meaning for a tribe. But to frame them in a sentence it can be said that a group of people living together having common faith, belief, customs and practices with a common ancestor or that can be a leader is termed as tribe.
As per the Cambridge Dictionary “a group of people, often of related families, who live together, sharing the same language, culture, and history, especially those who do not live-in towns or cities” [1]
How many tribes are there in India?
There are near about 645 distinct tribes in India however this figure may change from time to time. The state and UT wise list of Tribes in India are: 34 from Andhra Pradesh, 16 from Arunachal Pradesh, 14 from Assam, 33 from Bihar, 42 from Chhattisgarh,8 from Goa, 32 from Gujarat, 9 from Himachal Pradesh,10 from Jammu and Kashmir, 32 from Jharkhand,50 from Karnataka, 46 from Madhya Pradesh, 47 from Maharashtra, 34 from Manipur, 17 from Meghalaya, 15 from Mizoram, 5 from Nagaland, 62 from Odisha, 12 from Rajasthan, 4 from Sikkim, 32 from Telangana, 19 from Tripura, 5 from Uttarakhand, !6 from Uttar Pradesh, 40 from West Bengal, 6 from Andaman and Nicobar,6 from Dadra and Nagar Haveli, 5 from Daman and Diu.[2].
What is Intellectual Property-
Again, there is no such strict definition for the intellectual property but it can be said that the properties created through human minds an incentive for innovation or it’s a statutory right for a limited period of time for disclosing the invention given to the inventor or it can other wise be called as the fruit of creativity.
There are various types of Intellectual Property such as Patents, Trademark, Copyright, Geographical Indication, Designs, Integrated circuits and Trade secrets.
The TRIPS agreement i.e Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights is mother law for intellectual property rights. It aims to strike a balance between the social objective of providing incentives for future inventions and creation, and the short-term objective of allowing people to use existing inventions and creations.
Nature of the Intellectual Property-
● It is the Creation of human mind or the intellect.
● It is intangible property.
● The exclusive rights are given by the statutes.
● It is attended with limitations and exceptions.
● It is not a forever right it has to be bound by time.
● It can be territorial in nature. E.g., Geographical Indications.
Intellectual property exists in various forms such as it can be an invention, a trade mark, book, film, trade secret, artistic design. So, the ambit of the intellectual property is very vast.
Need to emphasize on intellectual property rights-
It is very much true that government has initiated many schemes for the tribes for their upliftment. But one of the other areas where the focus is to be shifted is the area of intellectual property. Indian tribes are known for their clothes, ornaments, food vessels, their agricultural produce, their techniques etc. India takes pride in promoting the tribal culture but it is most important to safeguard those using the help of intellectual property rights. As it will strengthen the economic condition of the tribes and they can outgrow others in the field of trade and commerce.
Jewellery / Ornaments- [3]
In ancient India the people used to make jewellery out of flowers, stems, fruits etc and made it into a beautiful necklace or a ring. Even now a days it is evident but with materials of ivory, gold, silver, bronze etc. In some tribes it is a mark of wealth and in some it is a part of style. Some of the ornaments name and from the region they belong are-
● Jammu and Kashmir- Kundalas (earrings), Nupura (anklets)
● Himachal Pradesh- Chudaman (head ornament).
● Odisha- Kada mudi (Toe ring), Kaymla (bangle)
These are some of the fewest jewelleries used by the tribes but there are hundreds of such ornaments which are made by the tribes.
These ornaments can be protected through Intellectual Property Rights so that the rest of the world doesn’t take benefit of it by making its copies and taking the economic benefit of it. It should be exclusively given to the tribes so that they can be promoted and sold to uplift the tribes.
Clothing- [4]
The trends in fashion keeps on changing frequently. But every individual love to wear traditional clothes or the clothes which is very close to their culture. Tribes in India have their own clothing style depending upon the territorial conditions. Clothing of Himachal Pradesh tribes is very much different from the tribes of Rajasthan because of the climate.
Some of the clothes are –
● Assam- Makhela Chadar, Riha -Mekhela.
● Chattisgarh- Kuchhora style saree
● Goa- Pano Bhaju
● Jharkhand- Parthan and Panchi
● Kerala-Mundum Neriyathum
● Manipur- Innaphi and Phanek
● Meghalaya- Jainsem,Dhara
● Mizoram- Pawl Kut
● Odisha- Sambalpuri Saree
● Sikkim- Dumdyam
It is seen that people from other parts of the country or from other parts of the world takes advantage of the poorly recognised skills of the tribes and exploit them for the economic benefit. Thus, by securing such designs through Intellectual Property Rights will help the tribes to have their own stand in the free market situation.
Art and Craft-[5]
Tribes in India are very rich in art and craft. Even modern technology is failing to design such Art and craft. The cosmopolitan areas have now using the art of the tribes and making a successful business out of it as the tribes are unaware of such rights. It is the state responsibility to assure that the middlemen do exploit the tribes socially. One of the ways is to strengthen Intellectual Property in this regard.

As it is well known that the tribes are rich in art, music, and traditions. But due to lack of awareness they are being exploited badly. We can uplift the Tribes only when we focus on their Intellectual Property Rights. That will help the tribes to get economic benefit from various sources and by promoting such art and craft it will increase the demand and they can become self-sufficient Thus, emphasizing on their intellectual property will make the tribes at par with the others socially and economically.

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Manish Tiwari


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