Being Local

80 years ago, on a fine summers night under a mango tree, a wizened old man was woken up and arrested in a village near Dandi, Gujarat. The reason: he had made salt from the rich shoresoils of the Indian Ocean. At the time, by law, no one could make salt without the favour of one Edward Frederick Lindley Wood, also known as Lord Irwin, Earl of Halifax, and other aliases including Imperial Viceroy. The old saltmaker was Mohandas Gandhi. You are probably wondering, “What could salt possibly have to do with software?” At this point in time: a lot. To explain, we must first touch on a WTO treaty. As a WTO member, India has found herself bound by the WTO “Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Agreement” (TRIPS) ruling. This broad ruling is being exploited by some to force developing nations to add stringent controls and to enforce many controversial requirements. [1] [2] This includes patent clauses that prevent and impede the manufacture of generic AIDS/cancer/malaria medications. This despite the fact that generics are recognized as an essential tool in preventing and controlling the effect of these crippling diseases and disastrous epidemics. [1, 2, 3]. Appalling. But let us not digress.

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