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The story behind any organisation is usually the story of its people. So in this section, we first trace the individual histories of Balu and Viji, and then the story of the organisation as a whole.

The first seeds of what would eventually become CIKS were sown in Balu's mind, ironically, in the United States. As a promising academic, he was pursuing a Ph.D in molecular biology, when circumstances led him to start thinking about the way India as a nation approached its own knowledge systems. Disappointed with the Indian scientific community's infatuation with the west, and reluctant to follow the mainstream, Balu returned to India with a renewed interest in learning more about ancient Indian wisdom and practices. On his return in 1982, he took up journalism, as it offered him a way to travel and learn about various parts of India. Balu also got involved with the Krishnamacharya Yoga Mandiram where he, initially as a student and later as a teacher, gained a deeper understanding of traditional Indian healthcare systems, especially Yoga.

In 1986, Balu was one of the people who founded the PPST (Patriotic and People Oriented Science and Technology) Foundation, with an aim to find ways to revitalize and strengthen traditional Indian Sciences. It was here that he first ran into Viji, and the idea of CIKS was eventually born.

At that time, Viji was doing her Ph.D in the use of spiders as biocontrol agents - a study that would later become a landmark piece of work in this field. She was also involved with the PPST foundation, although initially not in as active a capacity as Balu. While in school at Erode (South India), one of her teachers had constantly encouraged the young Viji to explore and learn more about Indian traditions. This stimulating environment led her to gain a keen interest in the traditional way of life from a very early age.

After finishing her graduation and post graduation in Madras and Delhi, Viji returned to Madras to pursue studies at the Loyola College. It was here that one of her professors showed her a newspaper article about some research on spiders in the United States. The species being studied as a potential pest control agent was native to India! Disappointed that no one had bothered to study them in India, she decided to take up the subject for her thesis. In the face of a lot of discouragement and opposition to her ideas, Viji successfully completed the study - now widely recognized as a valuable and relevant body of work in the field of biological pest control.

It was during this time that Viji met Balu at PPST, and got more closely involved with the organisation. Many of the members of the foundation had a great influence on her, making her more determined to do meaningful work in traditional science. She took up a pest control project under the aegis of PPST, and began looking at traditional agriculture and Vrkshayurveda in a broader sense. It was around this time that she decided to focus on the area of traditional Indian agriculture.

After spending a few years with the PPST foundation and Sree Chakra Foundation in 1993 Balu & Viji decided to set up an independent trust to focus on specific areas of traditional Science and Technologies.

The Centre for Indian Knowledge Systems was born in 1993. For the first two years, the Centre's activities were broad based - covering everything from agriculture, healthcare, art, music culture… the need to focus more sharply was felt only in 1995, when the Centre was registered as a trust, and the decision to focus on traditional agriculture and healthcare was taken. Metallurgy entered through the back door some years later - when the Indian Government commissioned a study on it.

Today, the centre has narrowed its focus further to specialise in traditional agriculture, specifically in three areas : biodiversity conservation, organic agriculture and Vrkshayurveda. [Read about the centre's focus areas]

With the help of dedicated workers and support from several well wishers, the Centre has managed to reach a stage where meaningful work is being done in a number of areas related to traditional science, with quite a few success stories to show for it. [Read about some of the centre's important milestones]

In the coming years, the Centre has set a target to achieve a few goals.

  • Evolution of certification procedures that have an Indian identity
  • Emerging consensus about the need for standards and accreditation in this area
  • Setting up of a clearinghouse of information on sustainable agriculture
  • Setting up a training college for imparting education on sustainable agriculture