Knowledge as Commons
Towards Inclusive Science and Technology
‘Prabir Purkayastha’s writing bridges science, technology and societal issues by underlining concerns regarding sharing knowledge, not patenting it, and drawing people to own this knowledge.’ — Vineeta Bal
‘Uncommonly well written, this important book by Prabir Purkayastha covers much ground — a lot of it new — in the social role of science and technology in India.’ — Ram Ramaswamy
Do the needs of society drive science and technology? Or do developments in science and technology provide the motor force of history? Has this relationship changed over time? Knowledge as Commons situates science, technology and the emergence of modern nations in a larger historical framework.
With profit as its sole aim, capital claims to own human knowledge and its products, fencing them in with patents and intellectual property rights. Neoliberal institutions and policy diktats from the West have installed a global system in which a resource that is not worn out with use — knowledge — is made artificially scarce; while limited resources such as ground water and clean air are used as though they were infinite.
Prabir Purkayastha traces the historical path towards the privatisation of knowledge. He examines the consequences of this privatisation for universities; healthcare; distributive justice; the domestic politics of developing countries, and their prospects vis-à-vis the West.
Rapid technological change, from pharmaceuticals to electronics, should be an opportunity to deliver quicker cures, affordable access, global cooperation in the production of knowledge and in securing its availability to all. Purkayastha argues that our success here depends on installing knowledge as the new commons of our global village.