India's traditional calling card

India's traditional calling card

by Chinnaraja Naidu

India’s cultural heritage is represented through its rich variety of indigenous products and handicrafts. As the country becomes ‘Vocal for local’, Chinnaraja Naidu takes us through the journey of GI (Geographical Indication) tags and how they help local producers to protect and promote their unique crafts and traditionally acquired knowledge in the country.

Several of Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi’s recent appearances have been with the gamusa, a traditionally woven scarf with distinctive red borders and floral motifs from the state of Assam. The rectangular piece of clothing has been an iconic symbol of Assamese culture since the 18th century. Keeping aside its cultural and historical significance, the gamusa is also unique because it represents a traditional style of weaving practised in India’s eastern frontiers.

With a demography as culturally diverse as India, the gamusa is not the only unique product, in fact, it is one amongst over 370 products exclusively produced across different regions of the country. In a mammoth effort to protect, propagate and celebrate Indian culture, the Geographical Indications (GI) were launched in 2004-05 as an intellectual property right, belonging to the concerned community of the said goods. The first product to be recognised under this norm was Darjeeling Tea. Since then the list has grown to include over 350 unique local products with new applications submitted each year.

Geographical Indications empower producers to prevent its use by an unauthorised party, whose product does not conform to the applicable standards fixed by the registered proprietor within the demarcated geographical area. For example, in the case of Bikaner Bhujia, a savoury snack from Bikaner, Rajasthan, in the jurisdictions in which the Bikaner geographical indication is protected, producers of the said bhujia are to exclude the use of the term “Bikaner” for the snack not produced in the demarcated area or not produced according to the standards set out in the case for the Geographical Indication.

Protecting indigeneity

Geographical Indications, registered for an unlimited duration, confer legal protection to tagged products that help to identify and register the genuine and legitimate producer(s). Largely, the GI system promotes economic prosperity of producers in a geographical territory and helps a community to differentiate their products from competing products in the market. It helps build goodwill around unique local products, and as a result, the premium price received is also directly transferred to those involved with the product.

Another aspect is that GI tagging ensures the high-quality as the distinctive local production process of these products is standardised. All GI tagged products are recognised only after qualifying the benchmark criteria of quality and authenticity. Similarly, for consumers, GIs act as a sign that helps them identify genuine products, adding to the economic prosperity of the producers. It has been noted that an overwhelming majority of consumers are prepared to pay premium prices for goods they believe to have originated in a particular geographical area using a traditional set of skills and knowledge, unique to the region (identifiable with a GI tag).

India’s own Geographical Indications are intellectual property, which means GI within our country is independent of any such rights existing in other countries.

Because of their commercial potential, adequate legal protection of GIs becomes necessary to prevent their misappropriation. Notably, at the international level, the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of the World Trade Organization (WTO) sets out the minimum standards of GI protection that WTO members are required to comply within their respective national legislations.

Adhering to this obligation, India has enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. In this regard, applications are made to multi-national consortia in order to protect the identity of these Indian products not just within the country but also across the world. For example, Darjeeling Tea is the only GI tag registered under the EU Regulations. Similarly, to protect the identity of Basmati rice, agencies are faced with an uphill task with litigations outside India. Even for international GIs, to enforce their right in India, the producers should apply under GIG Act. India has registered 15 such GIs from outside the country, that conform to similar, high-quality standards.

Geographical Indications are the identity of our rich cultural and national heritage. The tagged products and those involved with their production are an indispensable part of our diverse culture and society. The GIG act is symbolic of India’s commitment to utilising a contemporary consciousness for protecting our traditional knowledge, while simultaneously promoting Indian heritage across the country. Documenting, protecting and promoting these products in its essence, is an effort towards sustainable intellectual development.

Conversations ongoing on potential projects between Turkmenistan, UK
Conversations ongoing on potential projects between Turkmenistan, UK
Electricity consumption in February amounted to 1.6 bln kWh in Kyrgyzstan
Electricity consumption in February amounted to 1.6 bln kWh in Kyrgyzstan
Turkmenbashi Oil Refineries opens tender for purchase of gasoline
Turkmenbashi Oil Refineries opens tender for purchase of gasoline
Loading Bars
Italy's coronavirus deaths top grim milestone of 100,000
Estonia introduces strict one-month quarantine from March 11
EFSE sets to deepen engagement with Georgian financial institutions
Israel reports 3,130 new COVID-19 cases, 804,591 in total
WHO calls for strengthening women's leadership during COVID-19
Number of new COVID-19 cases in Spain continues to fall
PayPal buys Israeli cyber security company
France reports 359 new COVID-19 deaths, ICU admissions hit new high
EU to receive 100 mln vaccine doses per month from April: von der Leyen
Canada set to mourn COVID-19 victims, salute health workers on March 11
UK PM says higher risk of virus transmission "inevitable" as schools reopen in England
Finnish researchers develop nasal spray COVID-19 vaccine
Germany starts easing COVID-19 lockdown
Conversations ongoing on potential projects between Turkmenistan, UK
Exports to Iraq via Mehran crossing top $460m
Turkey passes 10 million mark in COVID-19 vaccinations
Georgian parliamentary committees to hear report on HPP construction
Official representative of Presidential Administration of Azerbaijan thanks Israel for medical assistance - Israel HaYom
UN chief urges countries to adopt special measures, quotas to advance women's equal participation
UK records another 4,712 coronavirus cases
Supreme Court rejects final Trump election challenge
India may start full operations at Chabahar port by May end
Iran profits from gas transmission development
Georgia 1st among best destinations for vaccinated travellers in 2021
Erdogan, Johnson discuss bilateral developments over phone
Electricity consumption in February amounted to 1.6 bln kWh in Kyrgyzstan
US coronavirus cases exceed 29 mln
Yellen says Biden COVID bill to fuel 'very strong' U.S. recovery
Iran's budget deficit decreases
Iran's Energy Exchange announces products to be on sale on March 9
Africa's confirmed COVID-19 cases pass 3.96 mln: Africa CDC
Syria's President Bashar al-Assad tests positive for Covid-19
Employment in Iran's industrial sector increases
Bulk of Jan.2021 loans to electric energy sector in Azerbaijan issued in foreign currency
Azerbaijan confirms 71 more COVID-19 recoveries
Loading-unloading of cargo in ports of Iran's Gilan Province expands
Iran's power consumption reduced by Omid plan
Iran to inaugurate more projects in free economic zones
Iran has developed steel supply chain - Iranian President
Iran's Securities and Exchanges Organization talks number of investors in capital market
Iran’s Bahar Azadi gold coin price rising
Volume of dry-farming land in Iran increases
Iran's NISOC begins excavations on its territory
Iran’s South Pars Gas Company reveals production data of its refinery
Iran waits for Europeans to comply with the JCPOA - MFA
Iran to make decision whether to open schools after Nowruz holiday
Production of LPG-fueled cars in Iran's interests - Chamber of Commerce
Armenia's war crimes exposed at UN Congress
Azerbaijan sees growth in Jan.2021 transactions via clearing system for small payments
Iran boosts car manufacturing
Spanish La Vanguardia: Return to Azerbaijan's Karabakh after war
Azerbaijan’s export of ferrous metal products down
Turkmenbashi Oil Refineries opens tender for purchase of gasoline
Britain's M&S expands online business to over 100 markets
Dustbin of history - place for former Armenian president Kocharian, 'Karabakh clan' - historian
Khazar Consortium opens tender to purchase cementing unit
Turkey’s food retail chain Migros to bolster gender-equal workforce and greener stores
Iran Mercantile Exchange working to expand sale of goods
Iran reveals COVID-19 data for March 8
Modi to inaugurate Maitri Setu between India and Bangladesh on Tuesday
India's Covid Vaccine Rollout "Rescued The World": Top US Scientist
India pre-eminent partner of US in Indo-Pacific region: Blinken tells Jaishankar
Bachendri Pal to lead all women team aged above 50 in a 5 month long Himalayan expedition
Satellite set for Mar 28 launch will provide near real time images of borders, quick monitoring of natural disasters
Sikh Fighter Pilot Memorial In UK To Honour Indians Who Fought In World Wars
IMF, Georgia review agenda of bilateral cooperation
Iranian President and Irish FM discuss JCPOA
Iran reserves strategic basic goods
Iran’s Rouhani asks for release of frozen assets in Iraqi banks
Iranian parliament approves increase of salaries to aid low incomes
Iran not to allocate Nowruz gasoline quota due to COVID-19
Uzbekneftegaz establishing production of import-substituting products for industrial enterprises
Iran to obtain its funds frozen in Iraq
Georgia opens new enterprise with support of Rural Development Agency
Interest in entrepreneurship growing among women in Azerbaijan
Export of cotton from Azerbaijan greatly increases in Jan. 2021
Mubarek oil&gas production dep’t owned by Uzbekneftegaz to increase natural gas production
Uzbekistan reveals its COVID-19 data for March 8
Iran unveils number of mining facilities put into operation
Japanese businessmen visit Azerbaijan’s Guba genocide memorial complex (PHOTO)
Development of Iran's Siyahmakan oil field launched
Nearly half of non-oil sector taxes in Azerbaijan falls on mobile operator in 2020
Azerbaijan's Azercell reveals number of processed requests in 2020
Azerbaijan's Jan. 2021 imports from EU show increase
Accumulative life insurance market in Azerbaijan grows
Iran capable of building long water transfer pipelines - Iranian VP
Deliveroo launches London IPO after business surges in 2020
Iran to publish final report of the downed Ukrainian jet soon
No direct or indirect relations between Iran and US - Iranian Foreign Ministry
Approval of FATF related bills would increase Iran's export revenue - Iranian Union
Iranian medicine importers awaiting approval of FATF related conventions
Turkey records slight decrease in car exports abroad
Cement exports from Turkey to global markets grow
Azerbaijan shows footage from Zangilan's Garagoz village (VIDEO)
Turkey's revenues from export of grains, legumes to global markets up
Moscow hosts opening ceremony of another 'Gifts of Azerbaijan' stand
Turkmenistan sells diesel fuel, gasoline to number of countries
Baku celebrating International Women's Day (PHOTO)
Kazakhstan's exports to Portugal plummet amid COVID-19
Kazakhstan boosts trade turnover with Lithuania
All news