From Darjeeling Tea to Lucknow Zardozi, as many as 400 products in India have received GI tags. With Bihar’s Mithila Makhana as the new entrant, a look at what is a GI-tagged product and its significance
After Basmati rice, Darjeeling Tea and Mysore Silk, the Centre has now awarded Geographical Indication (GI) tag to Bihar’s Mithila Makhana (fox nuts), a move which is likely to boost trade and help manufacturers obtain the maximum price.
Announcing the news on Twitter, Union Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal on 20 August wrote in Hindi:
GI Tag से पंजीकृत हुआ मिथिला मखाना,
किसानों को मिलेगा लाभ और आसान होगा कमाना।
त्योहारी सीजन में मिथिला मखाना को Geographical Indication Tag मिलने से बिहार के बाहर भी लोग श्रद्धा भाव से इस शुभ सामग्री का प्रयोग कर पाएंगे। pic.twitter.com/SzSOlsugRB
— Piyush Goyal (@PiyushGoyal) August 20, 2022
That roughly translates to, “Mithila Makhana registered with GI Tag, farmers will get profit and it will be easier to earn. Due to Geographical Indication Tag to Mithila Makhana in the festive season, people outside Bihar will be able to use this auspicious material with reverence.”
Let’s take a closer look at what a GI tag is, what getting it means and why it is important:
What’s a Geographical Indication tag?
World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) defines Geographical Indication or GI tag as, “A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place.”
Further, WIPO lays emphasis on the place of the manufactured product, saying that as the “qualities, characteristics or reputation” of the commodity depend on the geographical place of production, hence the product and its original place of production are directly linked.
India, which is a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enforced the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection Act, 1999) in 2003.
Once a product is awarded the GI tag, it remains valid for a period of 10 years and can be renewed thereafter.
Geographical Indication tags are not only limited to agricultural products, foods, wine and spirit drinks but also extend to handicrafts, specific manufacturing skills and traditions.
How is a product given a GI tag?
Satyadeep Singh, advocate and GI expert, told The Free Press Journal that the “uniqueness” of a product plays a significant role in obtaining the GI tag.
Any association of persons, producers, organisation or authority established by or under the law seeking to apply for obtaining a registration of GI products have to undergo a thorough process in India including filing of application, preliminary scrutiny and examination, show cause notice, publication in the geographical indications journal, opposition to registration, and registration, as per PTI.
What does GI tag mean for Mithila Makhana?
As per the GI registry certificate, the GI has been registered in the name of Mithilanchal Makhana Utpadak Sangh.
Now that Mithila Makhana has been granted the GI tag, any person or company is barred from selling a similar product under its name.
Bihar’s Darbhanga, Muzaffarpur, Champaran, Begusarai, Madhubani, Katihar among other districts in the state come under the geographical area of production of Mithila Makhana, as per Zee Business.
What significance does a GI tag hold?
After a product gets the GI tag, it cannot be infringed by any other producer as it is an intellectual property.
GI tags help in preserving the culture of that particular place.
As per WIPO, “Geographical indications can provide protection for traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions against misleading and deceptive trading practices. They can also benefit indigenous communities by facilitating the commercial exploitation of traditional knowledge and traditional cultural expressions, and encouraging traditional knowledge-based economic development.”
Battle of the Rosogollas
Some in West Bengal and Odisha were at odds after GI status was granted to Bengali Banglar Rasogolla in 2017-18.
Both states have claimed the Rasagola as their own.
Odisha then finance minister Sashi Bhushan Behera had dubbed the decision as an injustice.
The state’s Rasagola got its owb GI tag in 2019-2020.
Which other items in India have been honoured with GI tag?
As many as 400 products in India have been awarded the GI tags.
Karnataka has the maximum number of GI-tagged products in India.
As per Outlook, Darjeeling tea was the first product to obtain GI tag in October 2004.
In 2019, Darjeeling Green and White Teas received the GI identification. Lucknow Zardozi, Chanderi Fabric, Kullu Shawl, Kancheepuram silk, Kangra Tea, Dharwad pedha, Thanjavur Paintings, Allahabad Surkha, Farrukhabad Prints and Kashmir Walnut Wood Carving are some of the other products awarded the GI tag.
With inputs from agencies
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