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Going the GI way!

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Recently, West Bengal (WB) and Odisha had a fight over the ownership of the delicious sweet, Rasogolla. WB won the ownership owing to the fact that it was found to be Geographically Indicated (GI) in WB.

Geographical Indicator (GI) ensures that an innovation or item that is produced within a country is protected in a manner such that its conception, creation and distribution is managed by the original innovator. GI is part of the original Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) under World Trade Organization (WTO) regulations. The objective of GI is multi-faceted;

  1. GI ensures that a country’s unique heritage item or artifact does not lose its potency but in fact gets popular support in a manner such that it doesn’t fade into oblivion
  2. GI ensures that the actual innovator doesn’t lose potential customers or access to domestic and international markets. By stamping the artifact with a GI tag, the innovator can safely and securely trade his/her country’s item to a global audience and reap good profits
  3. GI tag gives a sense of pride to its owner since getting exclusive rights to the conception, creation and distribution of a unique item is in itself a matter of honor and great responsibility. This also spurs the innovators to build up further on the artifact and keep on improving its quality. The most beneficial group amongst this lot are traditional craftsmen and tribes.

India enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999. For a country as rich and diverse as India, GI holds special prominence;

  1. As per the latest data pertaining to Indian artifacts, 301 products have got the GI tag. GI exemplifies the diversity of India in a very apt manner. Getting a GI tag incentivizes innovators to further build, ideate and execute more designs and workmanship capabilities. The exclusivity that the GI tag lends ensures further the artifact doesn’t fade into oblivion
  2. GI can significantly strengthens India’s manufacturing and service sectors and can potentially open new avenues of employment and revenue generation. The NDA Government’s ‘Make in India’ scheme too can get a massive boost if it capitalizes and incentivizes on enhancing the quality and quantity of GI goods.
  3. GI tags ensure that the innovator’s works are secured from illegitimate copying and are able to access international markets and reap good profits. The hospitality and tourism sector stand to gain a lot if they aggressively sell and market India’s original ideas to the world.

Khadi Gramudyog and Fabindia are some institutions that are trying to ensure that traditional arts and crafts retain their sanctity and value. Why not have a Pashmina Gramudyog? or for that matter a Tirupati Laddu Kendra? The possibilities to bring India’s wondrous goods to the world are simply unputdownable.

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