Geographical Indications of India Socio- Economic and Development Issues

IPR, Legalities, Policy

Geographical Indications of India Socio- Economic and Development Issues

Gautam, Kumar


With Intellectual Property Rights (IPRs)1 increasingly influencing trades both at the national and international level; harnessing trade benefits depends on the degree of protection enjoyed by the owners of the IPRs. Geographical Indications (GI) is one of the six Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO)2 that seeks to provide comprehensive and effective protection to goods registered as GI goods. Geographical Indication (GI) is defined3 as any indication that identifies a good as originating from a particular place, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of the good are essentially attributable to its geographical origin. GIs may be associated with agricultural, manufactured or industrial goods. Non-agricultural products, which typically qualify for GI protection include handicrafts, jewellery, textiles, etc. (WTO, 2004). Given India’s historically vibrant and famous craft traditions, a number of craft genres and products from the crafts sector qualify as GI goods. If harnessed properly, trade gains from enhanced sale of these GI goods could provide tremendous socio-economic benefits to the producers of such goods. India, in compliance with the TRIPS Agreement of the WTO, enacted ‘The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, (GI Act) on 15th September 2003 to provide protection to the goods registered under the Act. Seven years down the line, evidence from the ground suggests that while there has been some progress in terms of number of goods registered under the GI Act, there remain a number of issues and concerns in the context of harnessing the potential commercial benefits out of GI registration in India.

The Rationale underlying GI Protection
Huge information gaps (information asymmetry) exists in the markets today that lead to typical market information problems in the form of adverse selection and moral hazard (Akerlof, 1970). Information asymmetry impacts negatively on the market: the quality of total supply drops, higher-quality products are driven out of the market and some consumers are no longer able to satisfy their preferences (OECD, (2000). Producers maintaining the quality of their products are exposed to unfair competition from producers who sell lower quality products at the same price.This unethical practice of selling fake products in the name of reputed products to fetch better prices is rampant in the Indian market and even abroad. In India, for example, cheap powerloom saris are sold as reputed Banarsee handloom saris within and outside Banaras, harming both the producers and consumers of Banarsee handloom saris. While original producers suffer a loss of market for their goods, consumers end up paying inflated prices for fake goods. Consumers usually do not have perfect access to information regarding the prices of goods, and even less so to the quality of the goods (Nelson, 1970).

In a situation like this, GI protection has the potential to eliminate information asymmetry and benefit both the producers and the consumers (OECD, 2000). Once the goods are registered as GI, they will be protected under the GI Law and any violation on this account would be tantamount to a legal offence. If the Act is implemented effectively, it will act as a deterrent to unethical producers selling their low quality and cheap products free riding on the reputation enjoyed by GI goods.

The GI tag attached to products acts as a signalling device that helps producers to differentiate their products from competing products in the market and enables them to build reputation and goodwill around their products, which allows them to fetch a premium price. Eliminating information asymmetry is also the rationale of another IPR: Trademarks. But, there are at least two major differences between Trademarks and GI. Firstly, while Trademarks can be owned individually or by a group of people, GIs are collective rights owned by the concerned communities. Secondly, Trademarks can be transferred or assigned to another right holder but GI rights are perpetual collective rights. Besides, since most of these GI goods or potential GI goods have their origin in rural areas, the increased sales of these goods as a result of protection under the GI Act has the potential to lead to enhanced income to the producers’ communities and hence to rural development.

Historical Development
The term ‘geographical indication’ (GI) is a relatively new concept introduced by the TRIPS Agreement (WTO,1994).However , evidence suggest that the practice of using other closely related concepts existed even in the pre-industrial times. The concepts such as ‘appellations of origin’, ‘indications of source’ ‘designations of origin’ and ‘protected geographical indications’ used names of places and distinctive signs for variety of products as ‘indications of geographical origin’ (IGO). For example: Mt. Fuji sake and Pisa silk, Champagne, Florida Oranges, New Zealand lamb, Murano Glass, Swiss Watches, Bukhara carpets etc.

Prior to TRIPS agreement of the Uruguay round which concluded in 1994, there were mainly three international conventions dealing with protection of IGOs, i.e. the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883), the Madrid Agreement (1891) and the Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Appellations of Origin and their International Registration (1958). While the Paris Convention and the Madrid Agreement dealt with ‘indications of source’, the Lisbon Agreement focused on protection of ‘appellations of origin (Kasturi Das, 2006).In terms of providing global protection to these IGOs, however, these multinational treaties offered limited scope as these conventions were ratified only by few countries. Hence, signing of the TRIPS Agreement, which brought GI to the fore in multilateral negotiations; by more than 150 member countries was an important step forward for the international protection of IGOs. The agreement provided the ‘minimum’ standards of protection for GIs (along with all other IPRs) backed by an enforcement mechanism.

However, there remains the problem of a hierarchy in the levels of protection based on an arbitrary and specious categorisation of goods under the TRIPS Agreement. In international trade negotiations on IPRs, the European Commission has always shown keen interest and even aggression in seeking effective protection to GI goods. The negotiations, particularly on the GI section of TRIPS Agreement, were among the most difficult and this stemmed from clear division between the main proponents of the TRIPS agreement-the US and EU. The European Communities (EC) and Switzerland constantly emphasised on inclusion of GI in TRIPS during the Uruguay rounds of negotiation. The fact that GI was finally included in TRIPS agreement can be attributed to the EU’s remarkable negotiating capacity. The final outcome was tilted in the interest of the European countries. The Current TRIPS text provides a basic standard of protection to all other goods and higher standards of protection to wines and spirits in which they have clear advantages. The EC and its member states have a diverse portfolio of over 6,000 protected GIs.

Socio-Economic Implications of GI in Developing Countries
It is interesting to note that unlike other IPRs, the concept of GI has been received favourably in the developing countries. The potential socio-economic benefits that GIs could accrue to developing countries have led many to believe that GI is the ‘sleeping beauty IPR’ (WIPO, 2007). Research on socio-economic implications of GI for developing countries is scarce and it is evident that most socio-economic studies of geographical indications have been done in European countries where the concept is well entrenched. Nevertheless, the literature review of these socio-economic studies does still hold relevance for their theoretical and methodological rigour and act as a guide-post. The key socio-economic issues relating to geographical indications particularly relevant to developing countries are misappropriation, protecting traditional and indigenous knowledge and culture, improving market access, creating niche markets, protection of reputation, potential income effect and rural development.

European policies and studies conducted in this area emphasize the potential of GIs to improve rural livelihoods based on local resources (Pacciani et al, 2001) and thus, advance rural development. Worldwide, rural communities have developed typical products based on the interaction between traditional-local know how (including selection, production and processing), cultural settings and particular environmental conditions such as the soil and climate (World Bank Report, 2004). The market mechanism, as it exists today, does not necessarily reward either these products or the producers.GI provides an effective framework to counter information asymmetry, leading to a process which can be viewed as ‘Institutionalisation of Quality’ that rewards such products and producers with premium prices.

Numerous empirical studies indicate that consumers are willing to pay a premium for origin- guaranteed products. A consumer survey done in Europe (WTO, 2004) revealed that 40 percent of consumers surveyed were willing to pay a premium as high as ten percent. Econometric studies have shown that consumers are ready to pay a high price premium for origin labelled wines. For instance, Bordeaux wine with ‘Pomerol’ designation, commanded a premium of $15 per bottle (Landon and Smith, 1998) and wines from Napa Valley fetched 61 percent higher premium than California wines (Bombrun and Sumner, 2003). The price premium is not restricted to wines. A study done by Loureiro and McCluskey, 2000 on meat products indicates that Galician Veal commanded a premium upto $0.21 per kilogram. Whether this premium will lead to increased income for producers actually depends on the capacity to implement effective enforcement.

While confirming GI as an effective strategic tool for development of rural enterprises, a study by the OECD (1995) pointed that the two main factors that influence the success of small rural enterprises are: market access and socially constructed differentiation. One of the effective approaches to address these factors is for the enterprises to work together in order to develop a competitive advantage. This sort of collective monopoly achieved through GI enabled the French origin-labeled cheeses earn an average of two euros per kilo more than French non-origin-labeled cheeses. French poulet de Bresse has a market price four times higher than regular French chicken.Producers of milk used for Comté cheese are paid 10 per cent over regular milk prices. Similarly, producers of Italian Toscano olive oil have managed to earn a premium of 20 per cent since registration as a geographical indication in 1998 (EU Background Note, 2004). The premium captured by products displaying a geographical indication suggests that some form of value is embedded in the use of GI which is a mixture of economic, cultural and social values reflected in product-place linkages. However, some studies also discovered that lesser known and lower quality products may earn small or insignificant price premiums, thus reinforcing the argument that GI registration itself is not enough for exploiting commercial benefits unless backed by promotional initiatives and quality maintenance mechanism (Loureiro and McCluskey, 2000).

In the context of developing countries, GI goods reflect strong links with localized specific production assets derived from local culture as it characterizes the “historical memory” of the local population and represents a catalyst of identity (Bérard and Marchenay,1995). As such, GIs draw from both natural and human resources located within the territory, thereby stimulating the rural economy. According to a study origin-labeled products are often considered useful instruments to preserve local culture and traditions and to foster rural development, especially in disadvantaged areas (Pacciani et al ,2001). According to the same study, the rural development impact depends on the extent to which local actors succeed in appropriating the rent with respect to actors located outside the territory. The potential of appropriating this rent is closely tied to the ability of local actors to create institutional processes that can regulate the use of these free goods (Pacciani et al., 2001). Thus, the rural development potential of GIs is dependent on an inclusive and representative Producers’ Association that ensures participation of local actors and capacity building of the PAs so that they are able to capture more of the rents from the production and supply chain.

Geographical Indication: The Indian Scenario
Unless a geographical indication is protected in the country of its origin, there is no obligation under the TRIPS agreement for the other countries to extend reciprocal protection. In India ‘The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999’ (GI Act) was enacted in compliance with India’s obligations under TRIPS at the WTO. The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 (Act 48 of 1999) came into force with effect from 15 September 2003.This Act seeks to provide for the registration and better protection of Geographical Indications relating to goods in India to fulfil three key objectives:1. Adequately protect the interest of producers of GI goods and add to the prosperity of the producers of such goods, 2. Protect consumers from deception, and 3. Promote goods bearing GI in the export market.

The Indian GI Act defines “Geographical Indications in relation to goods as an indication which identifies such goods as agricultural goods, natural goods or manufactured goods as originating, or manufactured in the territory of a country or a region or a locality in that territory where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of such goods is essentially attributable to its geographical origin and in the case of manufactured goods where one of the activities of either the production or of processing or preparation of the goods concerned takes place in such territory, region or locality, as the case may be.” Goods include any agricultural, natural or manufactured goods or any goods of handicraft or of the industry and include food stuff.

The salient features of the Act are mentioned under the following sixteen points:

  1. Definitions and interpretation of several important terms like geographical indications goods, producers, package, registered proprietor, authorised user etc.,
  2. Provision for the establishment of a geographical Indications Registry;
  3. Provision for the maintenance of a Register of geographical Indications in two parts-part A and part B and use of computers, etc, for maintenance of such registers. While part A will contain all registered geographical indicators ,part B will contain particulars of registered authorised users;
  4. Registration of geographical indications of goods in specified classes
  5. Prohibition of registration of certain geographical indications
  6. Provision for framing of rules by the central Government for filling of applications, its content and matters relating to substantive examination of geographical indications applications;
  7. Compulsory advertisements of all accepted geographical indications applications and for inviting objections;
  8. Registration of authorised users of registered geographical indications and providing infringement action either by a registered proprietor or authorised user;
  9. Provision for the renewal, rectification and restoration of geographical indication and authorised use
  10. Provision for higher level of protection for notified goods
  11. Prohibition of assignment etc. of a geographical indications as it is public property
  12. Prohibition of registration of geographical indications as a trade mark;
  13. Appeal against registrar decisions
  14. Provisions relating to offences and penalties
  15. Provisions detailing the effects of registration and the rights conferred by registration;
  16. Provision for reciprocity, power of registrar, maintenance of index, protection of homonymous geographical indication, etc.

To carry out the provision of this Act, the central Government notified a set of rules in 2002. The Government of India has established the ‘Geographical Indications Registry’ with all-India jurisdiction at Chennai, where the GIs can be registered. The controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks, who is also the registrar of Geographical Indication of India, is responsible for administering the GI Act. So far, 120 goods have been registered under the Act and many more are in the pipeline. Some of the well known GI goods are ‘Darjeeling’ (tea), Pochhanpalli Ikkat, Chanderi Handloom, ‘Basmati’ (rice), ‘Alphonso’ (mango), etc. An exhaustive list of registered GI products is available online at http//

Registration process for GI goods
Darjeeling Tea was the first good to be registered as a GI good in India. The need for Darjeeling Tea to get GI protection became pronounced when it was discovered that the volume of Darjeeling Tea being sold in in international markets was more than the volume being produced. This made it clear that gross misappropriation by way of free riding on the brand reputation of Darjeeling tea was taking place in the international market. The move for registration of Darjeeling Tea was initiated soon after the GI Act came into force and the process of registration was relatively smooth because it was initiated by The Tea Board of India which is a financially sound body and could afford hiring the services of all required legal, scientific and other technical experts.

The point which is being made here is that for GI registration, the nature and capacity of the applicant association is crucial. Once the need is felt for registration of a good as a GI good, the first and foremost requirement is the existence of a credible association that can be said to represent the interest of the producers of the good under consideration. The Indian GI Act says that any association of persons, producers, organization or authority established by or under the law is eligible to apply for GI registration. The applicant must represent the interest of the producers. Producers are defined as persons dealing with the following three categories of goods:

1) Agricultural Goods includes the production, processing, trading or dealing;
2) Natural Goods includes exploiting, trading or dealing; and
3) Handicrafts or Industrial goods include making, manufacturing, trading or dealing

The second stage is the submission of application for registration under the GI Act, 1999. The due diligence exercise requires tremendous amount of time, energy, money and technical expertise. The application has to include details of special characteristics of the product to convincingly prove the uniqueness and establish linkages between the product and its place of origin. The documentation process is extremely rigorous and requires elaborate audio-visual documentation. Most of the lead applicants/producers do not have the capacity/resources to undertake this process. Some hire legal and scientific experts to file the application on their behalf.

After the preparation of application is completed, applications can be filed and submitted by a legal practitioner or a registered agent and submitted to the Registrar of Geographical Indications, Chennai along with a prescribed fee. The application must in writing in triplicate in the prescribed format (available at //http// The application has to be signed by the applicant or his agent and accompanied by a statement of case.

After the application is submitted, the examiner at the Registrar’s office scans the application and any deficiencies have to be corrected by the applicant within one month. The content of the statement of case is assessed by a consultative group of experts in the area and an examination report is issued. Post this process, in case of any objection, the Registrar communicates with the applicant and is given two months to respond or apply for a hearing. The Registrar may also withdraw an application after the hearing.

Every application within three months of acceptance is published in the Geographical Indications Journal, which is bi-monthly and bi-lingual (Hindi and English) statutory publication. The Journals are published on the Registrar of Geographical Indications website and any person can file a notice of opposition within three months opposing the GI application published in the journal. At this stage, the applicant can send a copy of counter-statement which can be accepted or result in abandoning of the application after a hearing.

When an application of GI has been accepted, the Registrar registers the geographical indication and the applicant is issued a certificate with the seal of the Geographical Indications Registry. A registered GI is valid for 10 years and can be renewed on payment of renewal fee. Any person aggrieved by an order or decision can file an appeal to the intellectual property appellate board (IPAB) within three months. GI is a public property belonging to the producers and it cannot be transmitted, assigned or mortgaged. The Appellate Board or the Registrar of GI has the power to remove the GI or an authorized user from the register (also see Figure 1).

Figure 1: GI registration process in India

(Source: GI Registry office, Chennai)

The Textile Committee of India has been spearheading a nationwide campaign in India by creating awareness among various stakeholders of Textile and Clothing sector on the benefits of GI. The Committee identifies potential products and facilitates GI registration of the products. Some GI registrations that the Committee has facilitated include Pochampally Ikkat, Lucknow Chikan Craft, Banaras Saree & Brocades of Uttar Pradesh etc. The Committee has also supported state governments of Kerala and Uttar Pradesh for registration of some of the products. In this context, three studies were conducted by the Committee. The first focused on assessing the awareness among stakeholders on GIs and identifying potential products for registration under the act. The study identified more than 200 potential products for GI registration on the basis of threat perception. The second documented the specification and uniqueness of various products, which included the production process, historical origin etc. The third study, is currently being undertaken, analyses the post GI implication for Pochampally Ikat, Sholapur Chaddar and Terry Towels.

It is interesting to note (see Table 1) , that out of the total 120 registered GIs so far, 80 (66%) belongs to the handicraft category followed by agriculture 31 (26%), manufactured 7 (6%) and food stuffs (2%).

Table 1: Category wise registered Gis

Category Number of registered products
Agriculture 31
Handicrafts 80
Manufactured 7
Food Stuff 2
Total 120
Source: GI Registry Office, Chennai; as on August 2010


Out of the total 28 states and 7 union territories of India (see Table 2), products from only 18 states have been registered under the GI act. Not even a single product has been registered from 10 states and 7 union territories of India. While Karnataka has the maximum products registered (27), the number of registered products from some of the biggest states with rich cultural and traditional knowledge is dismal. Interestingly, only a single product (Peruvian Pisco, a wine from Peru) from outside India has been registered seeking protection with the Indian GI Registry office.

Table 2: State/Region wise distribution of Gis in India

State/Region Number of registered products
West Bengal 7
Kerala 13
Tamil Nadu 18
Madhya Pradesh 4
Maharashtra 3
Orissa 5
Karnataka 27
Rajasthan 5
Andhra Pradesh 12
Himachal Pradesh 3
Bihar 4
Assam 2
Goa 1
Uttar Pradesh 4
Gujarat 4
Chhattisgarh 3
Nagaland 1
Jammu and Kashmir 3
Peru 1
Total 120
Source: GI Registry Office, Chennai; as on August 2010


(Source: GI Registry Office, Chennai); as on August 2010

The trends and patterns in the year wise distribution of Gis in India show (see Figure 2) that while there has been an overall increase in the number of registered GI products, the increase has not been consistent over the last 6 years. Only three (3) products were registered in the first year (2004-2005).

Figure 2: Year wise distribution of Gis in India

Source: Based on data from GI Office, Chennai; as on September 2010

The number of products registered under GI recorded a significance increase in the year 2005-06. Twenty four (24) new products were registered in the following year (2005-2006) but in the next year 2006-2007, only 3 new products were registered. The year 2008-09 witnesses the maximum number of new products registered (45) .However, in the following year there was again a significant drop in the number of new GI product registration. Only 14 products were registered in the year 2009-10.

Issues and Concerns
There are a number of issues and concerns in the context of harnessing the potential commercial benefits out of GI registration in India. Perhaps the biggest concern is near complete absence of an effective post-GI mechanism in the country. While domestic registration of a GI is a relatively easy task and there has been some progress on this account over the last seven years, it is important to understand that only registration of goods per se does not fulfil the objectives of the Act, unless it is backed by sound enforcement mechanism both in domestic and export markets. In fact, the enforcement of the Act in other countries is a much more complicated venture as this may pose a variety of constraints including technicalities involved in the registration process in various foreign countries; exorbitant expenses involved in appointing a watch-dog agency to get information on misappropriation; and huge financial resources needed for fighting legal battles in foreign lands (Kasturi Das, 2006). The government’s role is vital in the post- GI mechanism because without government support, most producer groups do not have the wherewithal to effectively defend or promote their GI brand. In India, perhaps only in the case of one good i.e. Darjeeling Tea; the Tea Board has had some success in defending against misappropriation in a few countries because they have the financial capacity to do so.

Though the Act defines the cases when a registered GI is said to be infringed, it is silent on the mechanism and provisions to fight against the infringement and this is an area where the government needs to play a larger role. According to Dr. Rajnikant Dwivedi, Director of Human Welfare Association, an association based in Varanasi working with handloom weavers, benefits of GI protection under the GI Act will actually depend on how effective is the post-GI mechanism. “Banarsee saree weavers continue to be a distressed lot, idle looms have not begun functioning and unscrupulous practices of selling imitation products in the name of Banarsee Saree have not been curbed.GI has not delivered its proposed benefits as yet. The moot question is –‘Will GI be helpful in bringing back those thousands of weavers back into this famous craft who gave up weaving as their livelihoods were destroyed due to almost the same reasons GI protection is supposed to address?’ Though it is a bit early to expect so much but even the associated optimism among the weavers seems to be somewhat missing.

The above concern highlights the facts that essentially the litmus test for GI is whether it can effectively protect and promote the livelihood interests of the concerned producers or not, especially the poor producers. Mr. Anil Singh, Director-NEED, a Lucknow based organisation and also an applicant in GI registration for Lucknow Chiken Craft says that GI may leave the artisans community completely high and dry as the awareness level on GI, the most basic recipe for success of any policy, is alarmingly dismal. The post-GI mechanism must have adequate provision for promotion and continuous awareness building. Chicken Craft, being an eco-friendly, gender sensitive craft, has huge potential to increase the bargaining power of the producers, however, this potential has not been tapped. Attempts have been made by the State Government to tap this potential by merging GI promotion with the department of tourism, promoting producer companies and other promotional measures. However, these efforts remain restricted to a few areas where civil society is active. One of the key concerns that Mr. Singh points out is that a majority of producers do not have the capacity to report and fight an infringement case.

The government also has not made any headway in adoption of strategies for marketing and distribution of the product, its branding and promotion, especially in foreign countries. This again is a herculean task, especially for the stakeholders from a resource-poor country like India. Success in exploiting the economic potential of a GI, to a great extent, depends on effective marketing and promotional efforts to develop consumer perceptions about the ‘niche’ acquired by the product on account of product-place link. Building up reputation about a GI-product is not an easy task, however. It takes a lot of time, patience, money, quality control and a well crafted marketing strategy to create a valuable GI brand. Champagne, for instance, took 150 years to build up reputation and goodwill.

Currently, the action related to GI appears concentrated on registration of GI goods and in many states the state Governments are acting in haste. The identification and registration is happening without adequate due diligence. Applicants often do not assess the commercial status/prospect of a GI product in the domestic and export markets; the potential of its GI status in contributing to its future growth; and the socio-economic implications of its GI-protection for the communities involved in its supply chain. As a result, the larger and the real objectives of the Act are bypassed, often leading to frivolous and inconsequential registration. Moreover, as Gis are a collective rights and not an individual right, the registration process offers an opportunity for community level sensitization and awareness. However, in the haste to register Gis, this opportunity is also lost. The awareness and involvement in the registration process of even GI goods remain reduced to the level of a few selected stakeholders. This has in some cases led to seriously erroneous omissions and commissions, defeating the larger purpose of the GI Act. For instance, the map submitted while applying for GI registration of Bagh Print (already a registered GI) excluded some areas where Bagh printing has existed for decades4. Another error has been pointed out in the case of Madhubani painting. Madhubani Painting on paper is registered as GI under Class16 which implies that Madhubani painting on cloth is not protected.

Another lacuna is that the definition of ‘Producer’ in the Act does not distinguish between a real producer, retailer or dealer. As a result of this discrepancy, the benefits of the Act may not percolate down to the real producer. Various economically powerful intermediaries may still continue their control over markets and the real producers may still be dependent on these intermediaries for market access. Even if GI protection would yield financial benefits, in such a scenario, firms with superior bargaining positions (located on the upper stream of the supply chain) may end up appropriating a disproportionate share of the economic value generated from securing protection (Ragnekar, 2004).

The knowledge underlying a GI remains in the public domain; hence misappropriation of the embedded knowledge is not protected against. For example, in handicrafts, the technical content will not be protected as a technical idea under the GI, while the cultural value as form of expression and its distinctive characteristics do get protection through marks or indications of geographical origin. Hence, GI should be considered as part of a wider set of policies measures that seek to protect and reward indigenous knowledge. If needed, the technical component of the handicraft could also be protected through other IPRs.

There is a dearth of literature from an Indian perspective on potential benefits from GI protection. While many studies have been done in Europe on the issue, hardly any systematic assessment has been undertaken by the relevant agencies in India while identifying the products to be accorded GI status. In the Indian context, studies are not available to address some of the pertinent questions related to GI and its development potential such as: What are the price premium consumers are willing to pay for goods protected under GI and given the ground realities, whether and how much the commercial benefits from GI protection will percolate down to the downstream supply chain? What implication will GI protection have in for rural development in India?

Extensive gaps exist on operationalizing Gis and this is where the focus of the government needs to be. Well-crafted policies and strategies on post-GI mechanisms are required for marketing, distribution, branding and promotion of the Indian GI products to realise the commercial potential of Indian Gis. There is the need for setting up a national level fund for fighting against infringement, brand building and promotional efforts of GI products.

Best possible efforts should be made to sensitize and make the concerned GI community aware through a series of workshops and consultations to ensure maximum level active participation in the process for GI registration. This will in turn translate into socio-economic benefits to the community flowing from GI registration post-GI.

In the wake of the deadlock existing at the multilateral trade negotiations at the WTO, international trade is shifting towards regional and bilateral free trade agreements and Gis are featuring prominently among the negotiation issues, including in the ongoing Indo-EU FTA. In the light of these developments, rigorous analytical studies on impact and implications will prove to be useful in chalking out negotiating positions for India.

Existing empirical studies are predominantly done within the European context and do not provide for the characteristics of origin-labelled supply chains in developing countries. From a policy perspective much empirical work remains to be done to determine the direct and indirect impact of geographical indications in the developing world. Systemic studies need to be undertaken to study the real impact of the registered GI on the producers’ community and the potential impact of GI protection for the goods identified for production.

The implications of Gis in the context of rural development in India need to be studied especially for sectors like agriculture, fisheries, crafts and artisanal works that provide livelihood for a large section of the poor in India. The entire supply chain study should be undertaken to examine or understand the socio-economic implication of GI. Without a collective body of empirical evidence on the impact of geographical indications, policy decisions in the developing world will remain uninformed, potentially producing unintended welfare impacts.


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Das, Kasturi (2006), Protection of Geographical Indications: An overview of select Issues with Special reference to India, Working Paper, 8;Centad,Delhi
Das, Kasturi (2009), Socioeconomic Implications of Protecting Geographical Indications in India, WTO Centre, IIFT, New Delhi.
EU Background Note, ‘Why do Geographical Indications Matter to Us?’ available at //http// , 2004.
Loureiro, M.L. and J.J. McCluskey, ‘Assessing Consumer Response to Protected Geographical Identification Labelling’, Agribusiness 16 (3): 309-20, 2000.
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Annexure – 1

Handicraft Products registered under Geographical Indications Act


S. No


Application No.


Geographical Indications






FROM APRIL 2004 – MARCH 2005

1 3 Aranmula Kannadi Handicraft Kerala
2 4 Pochampalli Ikat Handicraft Andhra Pradesh

FROM APRIL 2005 – MARCH 2006

3 5 Salem Fabric Handicraft Tamil Nadu
4 7 Chanderi Fabric Handicraft Madhya Pradesh
5 8 Solapur Chaddar Handicraft Maharashtra
6 9 Solapur Terry Towel Handicraft Maharashtra
7 10 Kotpad Handloom
Handicraft Orissa
8 11 Mysore Silk Handicraft Karnataka
9 12 Kota Doria Handicraft Rajasthan
10 15 Kancheepuram Silk Handicraft Tamil Nadu
11 16 Bhavani Jamakkalam Handicraft Tamil Nadu
12 19 Kullu Shawl Handicraft Himachal Pradesh
13 20 Bidriware Handicraft Karnataka
14 21 Madurai Sungudi Handicraft Tamil Nadu
15 22 Orissa Ikat Handicraft Orissa
16 23 Channapatna Toys &
Handicraft Karnataka
17 24 Mysore Rosewood Inlay Handicraft Karnataka
18 28 Srikalahasthi
Handicraft Andhra Pradesh
19 31 Kasuti Embroidery Handicraft Karnataka
20 32 Mysore Traditional Paintings Handicraft Karnataka

FROM APRIL 2006 – MARCH 2007

21 37 Madhubani Paintings Handicraft Bihar

FROM APRIL 2007 – MARCH 2008

22 44 Kondapalli Bommallu Handicraft Andhra Pradesh
23 47 Thanjavur Paintings Handicraft Tamil Nadu
24 53 Silver Filigree of Karimnagar Handicraft Andhra Pradesh
25 54 Alleppey Coir Handicraft Kerala
26 55 Muga Silk Handicraft Assam
27 65 Temple Jewellery of Nagercoil Handicraft Tamil Nadu
28 63 Thanjavur Art Plate Handicraft Tamil Nadu
29 76 Ilkal Sarees Handicraft Karnataka
30 73 Applique – Khatwa Patch Work of
Handicraft Bihar
31 74 Sujini Embroidery Work of Bihar Handicraft Bihar
32 75 Sikki Grass Work of Bihar Handicraft Bihar
33 52 Nakshi Kantha Handicraft West Bengal
34 60 Ganjifa cards of Mysore
Handicraft Karnataka
35 61 Navalgund Durries Handicraft Karnataka
36 62 Karnataka Bronze Ware Handicraft Karnataka
37 77 Molakalmuru Sarees Handicraft Karnataka
38 94 Salem Silk known as Salem
Handicraft Tamil Nadu
39 93 Kovai Cora Cotton Handicraft Tamil Nadu
40 92 Arani Silk Handicraft Tamil Nadu

FROM APRIL 2008 – MARCH 2009

41 83 Bastar Dhokra Handicraft Chattisgarh
42 84 Bastar Wooden Craft Handicraft Chattisgarh
43 91 Nirmal Toys and Craft Handicraft Andhra Pradesh
44 59 Maddalam of Palakkad Handicraft Kerala
45 58 Screw Pine Craft of Kerala Handicraft Kerala
46 64 Swamimalai Bronze Icons Handicraft Tamil Nadu
47 82 Bastar Iron Craft Handicraft Chattisgarh
48 87 Konark Stone carving Handicraft Orissa
49 88 Orissa Pattachitra Handicraft Orissa
50 90 Machilipatnam Kalamkari Handicraft Andhra Pradesh
51 57 Brass Broidered Coconut Shell
Crafts of Kerala
Handicraft Kerala
52 66 Blue Pottery of Jaipur Handicraft Rajasthan
53 67 Molela Clay Work Handicraft Rajasthan
54 68 Kathputlis of Rajasthan Handicraft Rajasthan
55 97 Leather Toys of Indore Handicraft Madhya Pradesh
56 98 Bagh Prints of Madhya Pradesh Handicraft Madhya Pradesh
57 100 Sankheda Furniture Handicraft Gujarat
58 101 Agates of Cambay Handicraft Gujarat
59 102 Bell Metal Ware of Datia and
Handicraft Madhya Pradesh
60 103 Kutch Embroidery Handicraft Gujarat
61 51 Kani Shawl Handicraft Jammu & Kashmir
62 79 Chamba Rumal Handicraft Himachal Pradesh
63 86 & 108 Pipli Applique Work Handicraft Orissa
64 89 Budiiti Bell & Brass Craft Handicraft Andhra Pradesh
65 96 Thanjavur Doll Handicraft Tamil Nadu
66 104 Santiniketan Leather Goods Handicraft West Bengal
67 105 Nirmal Furniture Handicraft Andhra Pradesh
68 106 Nirmal Paintings Handicraft Andhra Pradesh
69 107 Andhra Pradesh Leather Puppetry Handicraft Andhra Pradesh
70 46 Kashmir Pashmina Handicraft Jammu & Kashmir
71 48 Kashmir Sozani Craft Handicraft Jammu & Kashmir
72 119 Lucknow Chikan Craft Handicraft Uttar Pradesh
73 122 Uppada Jamdani Sarees Handicraft Andhra Pradesh

FROM APRIL 2009 – MARCH 2010

74 128 Puneri Pagadi Handicraft Maharashtra
75 99 Banaras Brocades and Sarees Handicraft Uttar Pradesh
76 127 Tangaliya Shawl Handicraft Gujarat
77 138 Santipore Saree Handicraft West Bengal
78 144 Cannanore Home Furnishings Handicraft Kerala
79 147 Sanganeri Hand Block Printing Handicraft Rajasthan
80 152 Balaramapuram Sarees and Fine
Cotton Fabrics
Handicraft Kerala

Note: This paper is a shorter version of the GI policy brief printed, published and disseminated by AIACA.

Foot Note References

  1. Intellectual property Rights, very broadly, means the legal rights which result from intellectual activity in the industrial, scientific, literary and artistic fields. Countries have laws to protect intellectual property for two main reasons. One is to give statutory expression to the moral and economic rights of creators in their creations and the rights of the public in access to those creations. The second is to promote, as a deliberate act of Government policy, creativity and the dissemination and application of its results and to encourage fair trading which would contribute to economic and social development. (WIPO Intellectua;l Property Handbook; Policy, Law and Use)
  2. The six IPRs are patents, copyrights, trademarks, Geographical indications, Industrial Designs and Trade secrets.
  3. As defined in realm of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) of the World Trade Organisation (WTO)

Pointed by Mr. Chinmaya Mishra in a planning Commission meeting held recently



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