What is Geographical Indication?
Geographical Indications of Goods are demarcated as that facet of industrial property which indicate to the geographical indication indicating to a country or to a place located therein as being the country or place of origin of that product.
Typically, such a name communicates a guarantee of eminence and particularity which is essentially attributable to the fact of its origin in that defined geographical locality, region or country. Under Articles 1(2) and 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, geographical indications are covered as a constituent of IPRs. They are also covered under Articles 22 to 24 of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement.
GI Tag of Tribal Products
With over 104 million people (as per the 2011 census), the Tribal Population, as recognized under the Constitution of India, make almost 8.6% of India's total population.
A lot of Tribal people are already self-employed in the form of tribal cultivators or artisans. As per the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) Report of 2018-19, more than half (57%) of the Tribal population are in agriculture and allied activities and handicrafts. About 30% work as casual and agriculture labour and only 13% are regular salaried employees. It, therefore, becomes essential that their current self-employment is enhanced to increase their source of income. Giving a Geographical Indication Tag to the products of tribal artisans and other handicrafts would not only highlight such Tribal products, but also prevent third parties from replicating the work and engage in its mass production.
The Government of India has understood the requirement of such protection of Tribal artisans. Under the larger vision of "Aatmanirbhar Bharat" and "Vocal for Local", the Tribal Cooperative Marketing Federation of India (TRIFED) intent to collaborate with various Departments and Ministries for the GI tagging of tribal products, as notified by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs. These active collaborations would be between TRIFED and Lal Bahadur Shastri National Institute of Academy (LBSNAA), Ministry of Culture, Department ofPromotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT) and Ministry of Commerce. The Ministry of Tourism and the Office of Prime Minister seek to transform tribal products into a brand name, along with a GI Tag, so as to empower the tribal artisans.
TRIFED, with Ministry of Culture, has identified 8 heritage locations across the country. These heritage locations will be established with the geographical location specific 'Tribes India' stores which would carry the tribal products. Along with this, TRIFED also plans to set up a 'designer lab' at the Lal Qila (Red Fort), in Delhi which would hold demonstration from a few select tribal artisans to showcase their rich craft traditions.
Not only this, TRIFED has also proposed to hold a variation of the Aadi Mahotsav Festival, which was initiated in 2017. This variation would be GI Specific and would be held at Lal Bahadur Shastri National Institute of Academy (LBSNAA), Mussoorie in February 2021.
Currently, there are 370 registered GI products, out of which 50 are tribal products. The Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT), Ministry of Commerce has decided to showcase all 370 products in 'Tribes India' through its extensive network and promote the 50 tribal products.
It may be said that the grant of GI tag alone may not result in an economic upliftment of the Tribes in India. There may be case where the benefit resulting from the sale of the GI tagged tribal product may accrue to the traders or middlemen, and not to the actual artist. Along with this, a lack of marketing and promotional activities may act as an obstacle from unveiling the full economic potential of tribal products. However, with TRIFED's latest attempt at familiarizing people of these tribal products, it is hoped that this would no longer be a hindrance.
Originally Published by Khurana & Khurana, February 2021
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