Geographical Indications is one of the patents out of seven patents in all alloted to the products. From Childhood we are listening to hear the Alahabad ke Amrood (Guava of Allahabad), Chaman ke Angoor ( Grapes from Chaman) and Nagpur ke Santre (Oranges from Nagpur) are quite famous. Simlarly Hapur ke Papad, Kanjivaram ki Sadiyan and Lakadi ki Kathi ( Wooden Horse Toy for Children) from the Karnataka. The products are known with the state that belongs for the domestic market as well as for the International market.
In the era of the World Trade, the WTO is having its role significant. The rice is quite famous as Basmati, having GI (patent) for which Dr R Mashelkar presented the case for Indian Basmati Rice in the WTO and won.
Recently, there was a case in the High Court of the Madhya Pradesh also for the Basmati Rice. The court has to give the direction accordingly that the GI Tag for the traditional Basmati is region specific.
As per the geographical indication registry website, the GI tag has been given to 320 products, out of which 90 are agricultural goods till date. Fourteen GI tags belong to different types of Indian rice, which include Navara rice (Kerala), Kala Namak rice (UP) and Gobind Bhog rice (West Bengal). Like Darjeeling tea, there are examples of basmati named after location (s) where it is grown like Taraori basmati and Dehraduni basmati. The states that are endowed with some specific quality products may claim the GI tag on the basis of their regional specificity without interfering in the established trade interests of others.
A GI tag 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 the GI, a sign must identify a product as having originated in a given place.
According to experts in the agriculture field geographical indication (GI) tag is the sole entitlement of traditional ‘basmati’ growing regions. It should not be given to other states just on the basis of aroma of the rice, they said.
Currently, the GI tag is given only to ‘basmati’ grown in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, parts of Western Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir. Recently, Madhya Pradesh tried hard to extend the GI tag to the aromatic rice grown in the state.
“Granting GI to products ensures their protection and unique recognition. ‘Basmati’ is one such gift of nature to the Indian sub-continent. Being cultivated in well-demarcated geographical niche spread across several North Indian states, it possesses unique features like extra-long slender grains, elongation on cooking, soft and fluffy texture of cooked rice, pleasant aroma and palatability,” said Dr Gurjit Singh Mangat, senior rice breeder-cum-head, Department of Plant Breeding and Genetics, Punjab Agricultural University.
“Besides, genes for ‘basmati’ traits, unique combination of soil, water and climate of Himalayan hills and adjoining plains lead to manifestation of its quality features. Relatively cooler day/night temperature at crop maturity is best for retention of aroma,” he added.
However, Madhya Pradesh during its 10-year long legal battle failed to provide substantial documentary evidence in favour of the ‘basmati’ grown in the state for its inclusion under the GI tag.
Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA) had produced sound scientific and historic evidence claiming historic cultivation of ‘basmati’ in the traditional GI area.
“The documentary evidence, includes epic poem ‘Heer Ranjha’ by Waris Shah dated 1766, Gazetteers of Kashmir and Punjab published during the British rule (earliest dating back to 1869), trade recognition of ‘basmati’ growing areas/packing and literature of ‘basmati rice’ sold in India and abroad, affidavits of renowned food critics,” said Dr Mangat.
Similarly, the scientific evidence and endorsements for the traditional growing areas are also there.
“In fact, there are over hundreds of varieties of aromatic rice grown in the world. In India too, besides, ‘basmati’ various types of short aromatic rice is grown. However, aroma is not the single parameter for a variety to be considered as ‘basmati’,” he added.
“There is an urgent need to maintain the recognition of ‘basmati’ rice at the international level in future too. Any attempt aimed at loosening the GI demarcation can compromise our world-level recognition. It will place us unfavorably in trade vis-à-vis providing advantage to Thailand (Jasmine rice), Iran (Sadri rice) and major ‘basmati’ exporting to neighbouring country,” he further added.