Anybody wanting information about Indian medicinal plants will soon be able to get it at the push of a button. Work on a multidisciplinary, computerised databank, Inmedplan (Indian Medicinal Plants National Network of Distribution of Databases), has started and is due to go on-line by the end of the year.
Darshan Shankar, director of the Foundation for Revitalisation of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT), a Bombay-based nongovernmental organisation that initiated the databank project, said it is "a unique resource base", the only other one of its kind being the WHO medicinal plants databank in Chicago.
Inmedplan aims at promoting local health traditions. "Our first task is to bring out a catalogue that will set the standards for each head of data available," says Shankar. Information to Inmedplan will be provided by nine nodal agencies. Each nodal agency will manage a database related to one aspect of medicinal plants, such as botany, ecology or traditional medicinal systems.
"At present, the information is not available at any one place," explains H C Jain of the publication and information directorate in New Delhi, which is in charge of bibliography and abstracts for the programme. "When FRLHT or any other nodal agency is approached, the information seeker will be directed to the appropriate Inmedplan agency."
Inmedplan will also publish common standards of plant nomenclature, set up a network graphic centre, collaborate with international databases and provide technical support and training on database management.
Sam Pitroda, adviser to the prime minister on technology missions, expects Inmedplan will "become a resource base on medicinal plants that will aid agriculture, community health and genetic conservation." It will also serve foreign countries, but with patent protection devices.
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