Indian Salt Gets ‘Nostalgic’ After Big Patent Victory over Unilever
Written By: Rojalin Dhal
85 years ago, India’s greatest freedom fighter, Mahatma Gandhi had initiated the famous revolutionary movement called “Salt Satyagraha” to produce India’s own salt which had paved way for demolishing British monopoly over salt in the Colonial India. The history has once again repeated itself. India has won the Patent war over salt for patenting the method of producing iodized salt against a huge multinational company Hindustan Unilever limited (HUL). This long running battle has gained the title of “21st century salt satyagraha” which must have held Mahatma’s head high out of proudness.
As per the Economic Times, this salt war was started in year 2004, when the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), the parent body of the Bhavnagar laboratory – CSMCRI filed an application for patenting the new and novel method of producing iodized salt. This CSIR patent which was titled “Iodizing Agent And The Process Of Forming Iodized Salt” which could be used in the production of iodized salt by keeping the concentration of iodine in the salt stable. The traditional iodize salt which is available in India contains iodine in a very less amount. There used to be huge loss of iodine during the traditional processing and storage method of preparing iodized salt. Though, there are many people in the country who still consider “salt” only as to lift up the taste, but it is necessary to understand the importance of iodine as iodine is an indispensable element for the environment, plants, oceans as well as human. The consumption of iodized salt is very necessary especially in India, where iodine deficiency disorders are high. A close look at the data available with the salt commissioner of Jaipur can surprise us with the fact that more than 70 million people in India are suffering from goitre and other iodine deficiency disorders.
Dr. Puspito Ghosh, the inventor of this patent and a great chemist of CSMCRI had remarked that “India has no source of iodine and measures should be taken to conserve iodine usage”. The problem arose when the India patent office rejected the application on an opposition filed by HUL, alleging that the invention was obvious and lacked inventive steps. But this time Dr Puspito Ghosh and his colleagues didn’t give up and fought for the patent by approaching the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) and took years to prove that his technology was novel, inventive and non-obvious.
Although CSIR has previously won few patent issues against the foreign enterprises but all these battles have been fought on the ground that the foreigners have pirated upon India’s traditional knowledge and the invention are duplication of known properties of traditionally known components. So, this battle which lasted for a decade was a game changer in the history of battles fought by the CSIR as it was fought and won on the basis of new scientific knowledge and not traditional knowledge.
Dr Ghosh’s determination, courage and constant effort stands as the primary reason behind this major success against the big corporate giant. This will drastically reduce the dependence upon imported iodine for the salt manufacturers annually by help saving of a large amount of iodine. It would help in controlling the iodine deficiency by increasing the supply and will also have a positive impact on India’s economy. As the Satyagraha Movement launched by Gandhiji, became an important part of Indian independence movement, this “MODERN DAY SATYAGRAHA” victory has paved a way for the current “MAKE IN INDIA” initiative by government of India for making India progressive and successful.
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