India is a country with diverse cultures and religions, and When it comes to folk and ethnic culture with hundreds of folks India is known for its diverse culture. Perception about folklore differs in India, it is mainly associated with Tribal people and simple rural people rather crude and elemental in comparison to higher art forms.
When we talk about folklore, it is very difficult to differentiate between them as it consists of different languages, cultures, dance forms, dress style etc. so for the purpose of simplifying these folklores we have some common denominators such as economics, size of community and so on.
Further in India tribes are bifurcated into groups comprising the North East, South, Central and Western Zones, each with their own groups of sub-tribes there are tribes that are deemed settlers and tribes that are nomadic in nature.
Regardless, the tribe has its own ethos and cultural identity as well as centuries of traditions that gave birth to distinctive styles. Some tribes have become modern a sper today’s time while some are those who retain their original identity depicted in various forms, one of them is Handicrafts.
Handicrafts are not only a legacy of their tribe but also a source for their livelihood. Handicrafts covers articles such as pottery, carving, metal work, wood work, textile and furnitures amongst other all of which under the purview of expressions of folklore.
Then there are traditional methods to treat through herbal medicines, and methods of agriculture to use which they are using for generations. Nowadays we come across many pharmaceutical companies who are exploiting the traditional methods of tribal methods and gaining benefits and profits illegally using their methods.
In recent times we can see the strong revival of interest in folk art and indiscriminate entrepreneurs have made use of expressions of folklore for commercial gain in India. These exploitors are in no way connected to the originals nor they contribute any profit in the benefit of those communities. This is a pointer to the laxity of laws and implementation despite formulation of laws to protect folklore in India.
WIPO’s programme and budget was launched in the year 1998-1999 just to address rising concerns about intellectual property rights of indigineous knowledge holders.
In part III, Article 29 of the constitution of India it talks about State protection of culture of minorities which is a Fundamental right. Which elaborates it as any citizen with a distinctive language, script or culture has the right to conserve it. Earlier there was an expression that folklore is not protected under constitution of India, therefore for this amendment has been made and Article 51A (f) has been inserted which is a fundamental duty of every citizen to respect and value and preserve the rich heritage of India’s culture but it has no legislative, enforceable tooth.
The constitution of India does provide for protection of cultural identity of tribal populations through Article 371 along with schedule 6 granting such groups the right to have autonomous councils for self governance according to their customs and traditions. Such councils have power to make laws in order to protect such customs and traditions.
Schedule 5 of the constitution provides for creation of scheduled areas to protect a tribe’s interest and applicability of usual laws of the land may have force if the tribe and its council decide against it.
To prevent commercial exploitation of folk cultures and preserve the originality, separate Intellectual property laws for folklore’s is the need of the day.