Rajshree Chandra

Rajshree Chandra is an Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Delhi. Currently, she is a ICSSR Post Doctoral Fellow at the Center for Policy Research (New Delhi). She has been UKIERI India Institute Fellow at King’s College (2012) London; an alumna of BIARI (Brown University) and of “The Workshop”, IGLP, Harvard Law school and has been a Visiting Fellow to CSDS, Delhi in 2013. Her research interests include property, intellectual property rights and their intersections with health rights, collective claims of indigenous communities, and famers’ rights. She is currently working on a book project, which focuses on contemporary articulations of biocultural entitlements – farmers’ rights and benefit sharing entitlements – in the context of biotechnological innovation claims. The current work seeks to build upon her earlier published monograph titled “Knowledge as Property: Issues in the Moral Grounding of Intellectual Property Rights”.

Research Topic: Exploring the Content of Farmers’ Rights in India

Before the inception of breeders’ rights, there was no claim that existed as farmers’ rights (FRs). In a way, FRs have emerged as a counter to breeders’ rights in a hasty attempt to also recognise their claims as producers, consumers and conservers. The nature of this right is an interesting field of study for its prime purpose is not to enable the farmer but to make it run alongside IP rights in genetic resources. The Indian Plant Varieties Protection and Farmers Rights Act 2001 is a unique and an instructive example in this regard. What mechanisms of protection and techniques and notions of ownership does it advance? Does it protect the farmer, ensure his access, endow him with the ability to compete with breeders’ rights? Are juridical instatement of rights adequate replacements for the customary protection that farmers enjoyed? These will be some of the questions raised, especially in the context farmers’ suicides in cotton farming areas. When law becomes a strategy of ownership, access to law becomes a prior condition to accessing the right in question.