Bitten by patent rows over basmati and turmeric, India doesn't want to be caught off guard again by the West, certainly not when it comes to its ancient healing systems of yoga, ayurveda, unani and siddha.
A task force appointed by the government for protecting traditional knowledge and intellectual property is fast completing the documentation of yoga postures and techniques as well as formulae in ayurveda, siddha and unani - all Indian traditional medicinal systems.
The aim is to stop foreign practitioners and individuals, including Indian expatriates, from claiming copyrights. The documentation is also a seen as mechanism of protecting from misappropriation.
So far, 1,500 yoga postures and thousands of formulae in Indian medicinal systems from ancient books have been identified to document and make it available for the office that grants patents and copyrights to trademark it as our public property. The documentation includes texts, voice and visuals is expected to be completed before March 2007.
Nearly hundreds of experts have been working on the project and 54 ancient books regarding research on ayurveda, 35 for unani and 15 for siddha have been referred to enable documentation of over 50,000 formulae in ayurveda and 24,000 in unani.
A database of 10 million pages has been created so far.
Under a Rs. 100-million project, the health and family welfare ministry would be preserving all possible details of yoga postures in a multi-media digital library - Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL).
The data will be made available in five international languages, and 11 countries, including the US, Britain, Japan and China, would be able to access it.
The task force has found that at least 150 yoga postures that were developed and practised in India for ages - the system finds mention in Vedic scriptures - have been pirated in the US, Europe and in Japan.
The task force says the US Patents Office has so far issued 134 patents on yoga accessories, 150 yoga-related copyrights and 2,315 yoga trademarks while Britain has approved at least 10 trademarks relating to yoga training aids.