Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Interview with the father of India's green revolution

Richard Poynder, Bridging the digital divide: Empowering the people, Open and Shut?  May 1, 2007.  This interview with Monkombu Sambasivan Swaminathan is focused on his work to help India feed itself.  It's not part of Richard's series of Open Access Interviews, but it contains these nuggets on OA:

RP:  ...Do you have views on Open Access?

MSS: I fully believe in Open Access.

RP: You are a Fellow of many of the world's leading Science Academies including the Royal Society, the US National Academy of Sciences, the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Would you be willing to use your undoubted stature to persuade these academies to proactively promote Open Access to scientific and scholarly literature?

MSS: I will do my best to persuade all academies to follow the principle of Open Access....

RP: I want to broaden the discussion out a little if I may. I don't know how much interest you take in the various free and open movements, but it strikes me that there are interesting parallels in what you are trying to achieve with the VKCs [Village Knowledge Centres], and what these various movements are trying to achieve in their respective arenas. I wonder, for instance, if this might suggest that at some point mankind forgot how to co-operate, or to share effectively. Since it seems likely that co-operation will be essential if we are to progress, and ensure that we don't destroy the planet, perhaps we are in the process of reinventing how to share, or devising new ways of doing so. Would you agree?

MSS:  Maybe.  Mahatma Gandhi said that we should behave as trustees and not as owners of both physical and intellectual wealth. In my view it is criminal to make access to information and technologies which are of great importance to human health, nutrition and environmental security, exclusive. I believe there must be compulsory licensing of rights in all cases where the discovery is of great importance to the elimination of hunger and poverty, as well as health security (e.g., HIV AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, etc.).  And this principle should also apply in the case of information and technologies able to mitigate the adverse impact of global warming and sea level rise....