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Shifting Nature Of Traditional Knowledge Under GI Products Into Competition Purposes

Most of the Indian geographical indications are linked to traditional knowledge, culture and lives of the communities, India has a considerable scope for building the brand image of such products by highlighting the cultural aspects associated with them. Notable countries like China,Thailand are close competitors of India in the global market for traditional craft products and are trying to utilize the cultural aspects of their products for their marketing purposes. India can also cash in on the historical stories , legends and myths surrounding many of its traditional geographical indications to build their brand image in the global market.

As defined under World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), a Geographical Indication (GI)is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or reputation that are due to that origin. The characteristics and qualities of the products are attributable to the geographical place of production.

In case of manufactured goods, one of the activities of either the production or processing of the goods concerned should take place in such territory, region or locality as the case maybe. India has been a hive of tradition and skill in all forms of art and craft for millennia and has excelled in multiple disciplines.

Over the last years, the Indian government has intensified its efforts to strengthen its IP system, with Geographical Indications (GIs) being a major topic of discussion for both national legislation and international agreements. Geographical indications identify and reward farmers with a premium value applied to their goods for their age-long cultural commitment to survival, lateral learning, conservation, and social networking .Geographical indications will contribute to the survival and evolution of society by acknowledging the cultural values and ingenuity of traditional knowledge holders.

The linkage between geographical indications and traditional knowledge which enables the protection of traditions, culture, and know-how through the system of GIs. For example, the Thanjavur paintings from Tamil Nadu, Bastar iron craft from Chhattisgarh, Hyderabad Haleem from Telangana, and the Warli painting of Maharashtra are all products arising from traditional knowledge which strengthen the economic capabilities of local communities and enable the preservation of such Traditional knowledge. But now there is the shifting nature from protecting the traditional knowledge of the products into the competition purposes under the markets.

Scope And Objective Of The Study
  • To Recognise values and respect.
  • To Meet the actual needs of the people.
  • To Prevent the misappropriation and misuse of traditional cultural expressions.
  • To Empower communities.
Contribute to safeguarding traditional cultures.
  • To Encourage community innovation and creativity & Contribute to cultural diversity
  • Promote the [community] development of indigenous peoples and communities and traditional and other cultural communities and legitimate trading activities.
  • Enhance certainty, transparency and mutual confidence.

Review Of Literature
According to Thoothukudi Collector Dr K Senthil Raj, though a GI tag cannot be considered A patent, it is surely a credential for the product.

"European countries know full well how GI tags help a product receive better publicity leaning on the traditions and culture of a region. India with its diverse landscapes has huge potential. Following awareness programmes, the Kadalamittai Producers Association had obtained the GI tag for groundnut candy and then applied for authorisation with the registry in Chennai," he said.

Pointing out that Tamil Nadu had just 42 GI-tagged products, and the process is under way for 29moreproducts, he expressed concern that India as a whole was lagging far behind. "As of 2018, Germany topped the list with 15,566 GI-tagged products, with China in second place with 7,247 products.

Even middle-income countries such as the Republic of Moldova, Bosnia, Herzegovina, and Georgia boast of over 4,000 GI tags. In contrast, India had just 330 GI tags in force as of 2018," Srutanjay noted.

In line with Hon'ble Prime Minister's call for 'Vocal for Local' and 'Atmanirbhar Bharat', the Centre, through Agricultural and Processed Food Export Development Authority (APEDA) has been facilitating trial shipments into new markets world wide for products such as Kala Namak rice, NagaMircha,Assam Kaji Nemu, Bangalore Rose Onion, Nagpur Oranges, GI varieties of Mangoes, GI-tagged Shahi Litchi, Bhalia wheat, Madurai Malli, Bardhaman Mihidana and Sitabhog, Dahanu GholvadSapota, Jalgaon Banana, Vazhakulam Pineapple, Marayoor Jaggery, etc.

Union Ministry of Commerce and Industry recently conferred the 'Most Popular GI' award to Hyderabadi Haleem and other GI products. Key facts Hyderabadi Haleem received the 'Most Popular GI'award under the food category and agriculture category. It received the award by beating dishes like Rasgulla, Bikaneri Bhujiya, and Ratlami Sev.

The Geographical Indication came into force from September 15, 2003. In 2004-2005 the Darjeeling Tea was given the first GI Tag in India. GI Tag is basically given to the products related to agriculture, handicrafts, foodstuffs, spirit drinks and Industrial Products. India has more than 300 geographical Indications so far.

List OF Newly Added GI Tags In 2022:
  1. Kashmir Saffron (Agriculture) Jammu & Kashmir
  2. Manipuri Black Rice ( Food Stuff) Manipur.
  3. Kandhamal Haladi (Agricultural) Odisha.
  4. Rasagola (Food Stuff) Odisha.
  5. Kodaikanal Malai Poondu (Agricultural) Tamil Nadu.
  6. Pawndum (Handicraft) Mizoram.
  7. Ngotekherh (Handicraft) Mizoram.
  8. Hmaram (Handicraft) Mizoram.
  9. Palani Panchamirtham (Food Stuff) Tamil Nadu.
  10. Tawlhlohpuan (Handicraft) Mizoram.
  11. Mizo Puanchei (Handicraft) Mizoram
  12. Gulbarga Tur Dal (Agricultural) Karnataka.
  13. Tirur Betel Leaf (Tirur Vettila) Agricultural Kerala
  14. Khola Chilli (Agricultural) Goa.
  15. Idu Mishmi Textiles (Handicraft) Arunachal Pradesh.
  16. Dindigul Locks (Manufactured) Tamil Nadu.
  17. Kandangi Saree (Handicraft) Tamil Nadu
  18. Srivilliputtur Palkova (Food Stuff) Tamil Nadu.
  19. Kaji Nemu (Agricultural) Assam.

Research Questions
  • Whether geographical indications products focuses more on competitive advantages?
  • Whether geographical indications products are regarded as Brand in markets?
  • Whether the protection of traditional knowledge regarding the products which have GI tags empowers their region?
  • Do geographical indications encourages local protections ?

Now a days the growth of GI tagged products increases .The usage of traditional knowledge about the products which got GI tags turned for competition purpose instead of protecting and empowering their community.

Research Methodology And Techniques
The methodology adopted is empirical research. This being an empirical research the data is collected from primary source and survey of secondary source. The primary sources of data collection are the opinion of the GI tagged product manufacturers. The tool that is used for the data collection is questionnaire based survey. The secondary sources are collected from various articles , web page of government, e-journals.

Debates over traditional knowledge with geographical indications:
The primary reason behind the geographical indication tags for the traditional products is to protect their knowledge, rural development and community rights with respect to fair competition in markets .But the issues arised from GI tags which were about the originality nature and the people who were entitled for. Let us see about the debates over the traditional knowledge ,indigenous knowledge along with geographical indications.

Indigenous Knowledge:
It is used to describe knowledge held and used by communities, peoples and nations that are "indigenous". The peoples those which, having a historical continuity with 'pre- invasion' and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing in those countries, or parts of them. They format present non dominant sectors of society and determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identities, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural pattern, social institutions and legal systems.

Correlation- Indigenous knowledge & Traditional Knowledge
"Indigenous Knowledge" is obviously the traditional knowledge of the indigenous peoples. Indigenous knowledge is therefore part of the traditional knowledge category, but traditional knowledge is not necessarily indigenous. That is to say, indigenous knowledge is traditional knowledge, but not at all traditional knowledge is indigenous.18 Let us see about the correlation between Indigenous ,traditional knowledge and geographical indications. They are:
  • All IKs are TK
  • All TK may not be IK
  • Some GIs may be TK
  • Some GIs may be IK
  • Some GIs may be TK & IK both and later on can get GI registration( Muga silk in Assam)
  • Some GIs may stand independence of Tk & IK

Unjustified Reason On Granting GI Status To Tirupathi Laddu:
At various occasions, it has proved that no appropriate justification has been provided behind granting GI status to Tirupati Laddu. During the stage of registration, the registrar has appointed the expert panel for examining the application field by Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam, where in they have easily convinced that TTD has possesses the distinctiveness and suggested to accord protection to same, which finally became one of the registered GI of India.

In the famous case filed by Mr. R. S. Praveen Raj, a scientist at NIIST against Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam has raised many questions on the very rational behind granting GI status to Tirupati Laddu. In this case it has argued that the Grant of GI to Tirupati Laddu ensures the monopoly to a single producer would defeat the primary objective of GI law in serving community interest . In addition to this he highlighted that the protection is accorded in contraventions of the provisions of G.I Act 1999.Being mark which would be likely to deceive or becoming the reason to cause confusion to people.

Further the mark which likely to hurt the religious susceptibilities of the common masses of India is also not registrable. But unfortunately, despite all endeavour the GI Registry, Chennai rejects the contention by Mr. Praveen Raj demanding the removal of the GI tag accorded to Tirupati Laddu only on the ground that he failed to prove the locus Standi.

Thereafter, the status of GI has been challenged in Madras High Court on the ground of violating Article 25 of the Indian Constitution and the Provisions of GI act 1999 and brings into question the entire registration process . But unfortunately, the court has provided the judgement in favour of the Temple Trust that considered as a black day for the indigenous producers whose interest is diluted beyond any cost.

Rural development And Its effects:
Geographical indications are generally traditional products, produced by rural, marginal or indigenous communities over generations that have gained a reputation on the local, national or international market due to their specific unique qualities.

The recognition and protection on the markets of the names of these products allows the community of producers to invest in maintaining the specific qualities of the product on which the reputation is built. Most importantly, as the reputation spreads beyond borders and demand grows, investment should be driven to the environment sustainability where these products originate and are produced.

In the International Trade Centre's Guide to Geographical Indications: Linking Products and their Origins author Daniele Giovannucci states that geographical indications are by no means a panacea for the difficulties of rural development.

They can however offer a comprehensive framework for rural development since they can positively encompass issues of economic competitiveness, stakeholder equity, environmental stewardship, and socio-cultural value. The application of circular economy will ensure socio-economic returns in the long-run to avoid growth at an environmental cost. This approach for GI development may also allow for investment together with promoting the reputation of the product along the lines of sustainability when and where possible.

Rural development impacts from geographical indications, referring to environmental protection, economic development and social well-being, can be the strengthening of sustainable local food production and supply (except for non-agricultural GIs such as handicrafts); a structuring of the supply chain around a common product reputation linked to origin; greater bargaining power to raw material producers for better distribution so as for them to receive a higher retail price benefit percentage capacity of producers to invest economic gains into higher quality to access niche markets, improving circular economy means throughout the value chain, protection against infringements such as free-riding from illegitimate producers, etc economic resilience in terms of increased and stabilised prices for the GI product to avoid the commodity trap through de-commodisation, or to prevent/minimise external shocks 16 affecting the premium price percentage gains (usually varying from 20-25%) added value throughout the supply chain spill-over effects such as new business and even other GI registrations preservation of the natural resources on which the product is based and therefore protect the environment preservation of traditions and traditional knowledge identity based prestige linkages to tourism.

None of these impacts are guaranteed and they depend on numerous factors, including the process of developing the geographical indications, the type and effects of the association of stakeholders, the rules for using the GI (or Code of Practice), the inclusiveness and quality of the collective dimension decision making of the GI producers association and quality of the marketing efforts undertaken.

Marketing issues and Challenges on GI tagged products:
There are several forms of TK that might thus lead to traditional innovation. Indeed, the use of GIs to generate 'development from within' is not new, although it was mostly advocated for the 'global south'. GIs have been linked to rural development in particular, and this may be compatible with many forms of indigenous innovation and production.

Several indigenous communities have developed sustainable land use and conservation models that are viewed by some environmental advocates as possible 'organic' alternatives to pouring billions of tons of chemicals into the ground. Certain forms of environmental TK could be 'packaged' as best-practice models using GIs, much in the way that Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design standard have evolved over the past decades for the 'green building' certification. A possible example is the mosaic method of burning land used by indigenous peoples in Australia. A GI might apply to methods certified by custodians of this knowledge even if transported to a different technological domain, such as mosaic burning using helicopters.

Lack of formal organization structures and/or control mechanisms:
Many of the producer groups and co-operatives have an informal structure. Accordingly, control systems are not formalised or alternately there are multiple small groups in informal contact of each other. This makes it difficult for collective strategic decision making, and at times, strict enforcement of norms.

There needs to be some kind of umbrella organization or a co-coordinating body which looks after the strategic decisions, management and implementation of key initiatives and adherence to norms. In many clusters the producers- farmers/ artisans are related and so sometimes violations are over looked. It was noticed that channeling of marketing efforts has been easier wherever there were are more formal structures such as Coir Board, Spice Board, Tea Board etc.

Lack of producer database:
There is a lack of database of producers/farmers/ artisans. A listing of these for each of the GI products would be an important step towards better co- ordination and control.

Financial support for marketing:
Farmers and artisans do not have either the funds or the expertise to undertake marketing activities and need active support from the government for these activities, both in terms of financing and implementation. Widespread awareness campaigns would need significant investment and this ought to be done by the government. As an ongoing activity, financial assistance is required for participation in 18 national and international exhibitions.

Again from the responses it is clear that while such schemes exist and producers of some GI products have extensively availed of these schemes, many others are not aware of these and have not accessed any such support in the absence of comprehensive guidelines for participation.

Lack of funding for working capital requirements:
One of major issues highlighted almost universally across all GI products was lack of access to low cost for funds for meeting working capital requirements. There is a need for support from government to organizations on this front and if schemes already exist in this area, then these need to be communicated to the concerned producers/artisans. There is also a suggestion that an Artisan credit card should be launched on lines of the Kisan Credit card.

Traditional Specialties guaranteed:
The product must have distinguish features that set it apart from other agricultural product or food stuff in the same category. this could include taste or specific raw materials .however, the special characters cannot be a particular geographical origin. The product's specific character must be traditional in that it uses traditional raw materials or is produced or processed in a traditional way.

Analysis And Interpretation Of Data
Empirical research was conducted among GI tagged products manufacturers in Thanjavur district from Tamil Nadu to identify to what extent they are aware about the GI protection and benefits arises from legislative measures. The methodology used by the researcher was questionnaire based survey. Both qualitative and quantitative aspects have been taken into consideration of the study.

The researcher has 15 questions, the first 5 question is about the basic personal information. About 20 responses were collected through the direct questionnaire interview method. The data so collected is analysed and interpreted in the form of pie charts below. the study analysed the various demographic factors of the respondents such as gender, age, educational qualification, place of residence, and experiences. The data were collected from the respondents by way of questionnaire through direct interview method.

Conclusuion And Suggestions
Traditional knowledge holders have cultivated their knowledge for decades and they should be able to protect it legally as effortless as non-traditional knowledge holders can protect their creations through existing intellectual property rights

I suggest that the traditional knowledge holders should have to protect for their community developments and for the value which gain from their products andnot forthe cash from the competition in the markets ,while it will lead to duplication of products and misue of GI tagged products. In certain cases GI producers are facing main threats from the intermediaries. They have to jump out from that supply chain. For the sake of traditional knowledge protection and to ensure incentive for the producers of GI effective management of GI system is very essential.

Reference Links:
  1. See WIPO, Members of the Madrid Union WIPO Report 2001, p. 25

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