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Critical Analysis of the GI Tag given to the Kadaknath Chicken

Geographical Indication, in plain terms can be defined as a tool to protect certain commodities from exploitation and to maintain it's local, cultural, ethnical, procedural identity. It is one of the types of Intellectual Property Rights, which has its importance in the region of trade, because the things in which a GI Tag is granted are usually commodities which prove profitable when sold. It guarantees cultural authenticity and therefore proves helpful for both consumers and producers.

According to World Intellectual Property Organization - GI is "A GI is a sign used on products which have a specific geographical origin and possesses qualities or reputation which are specific to that origin. In order to specify as a GI a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place."[1]

A geographical indication protects a person from infringing the rights of commodity and its usage. The GI system or something similar to it was first developed by the French and it was known as the "Appellation of Origin".

India after becoming a part of the World Intellectual Property Organization enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act 1999. These tags are granted to the commodities which are generally agriculture, natural or manufactured like handicrafts. It identifies a particular commodity by its region or its process.

The Kadaknath chicken is one of the most famous varieties of chicken which is granted a GI tag. It comes from the Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh and is pure black in color, even the internal organs are black which attracts the people towards it. It is very rich and good in taste and the perfect variety has been developed by generations of cross breeding done by the tribal people. "Comparative value of the Kadaknath breed both in terms of economics as well as nutritive values makes this breed more important among the poultry. It has changed lives of farmers in tribal region in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. Kadaknath has now outreached to 117 districts in 20 states across India and also exported to Asian countries."[2]

GI Tag and its Pre-requisites

The GI tags in India started gaining speed and recognition after the act was enacted in 1999 and there were several amendments in the older laws as well, like the Patents Act of 1970 was amended. Over the time GI has become a signifier of quality. After the act was enacted it was accompanied by the GI of Goods ( Registration and Protection) Rules 2020 and the act was finally enforced in September 2003. The government established the Registry at Chennai where anyone could apply for the GI Tag protection of their commodity. The definition of GI Tag as given under section 2(3).

Section 2(3) goes like this:

"Geographical indication", in relation to goods, means 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 locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of such goods is essentially attributable to its geographical origin and in case where such goods are manufactured goods 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."[3]

This in itself is a very self- inclusive definition of GI Tag. Registration of GI Tag is important due to various reasons, most important being-

"The identification enables the product to gain reputation and goodwill, which results in premium prices in the national as well as international market, which increases the sale of this product.

The registration gives a right to protect against unauthorized use as per the GI Act 1999, by a third party."[4]

GI promotes the ownership of a commodity, the identity of the commodity, by a community. It shares the benefit earned from the selling of that commodity to the whole community. It creates a sense of belonging in the community of a particular area or region. It also proves fruitful to producers and artisans who earn profit due to consumer's choice of acquiring a particular product in a particular format.

Some good examples include that of Tequila and Toscano getting a GI tag, after which everyone associated with the plantation and production of agave and olives benefitted from the profit. GI promotes domestic development and growth because these are given to the local pre- existing products, which boosts the economy. GI Tag helps in reducing the migration from rural to urban areas in search of job. It helps in preserving local indigenous knowledge, and promotes tourism in the region.

Sections 8 and 9 of the GI Registration Act explain about the requirements a commodity has to fulfil before getting registered as a GI of a particular place.

Section 8:
Talks about the Registration to be in respect of particular goods and area, it goes like this

" Any good can be given a GI tag, if the class of goods is classified by the registrar and is limited to a certain territory of a country, or a particular region of the territory.
The registrar classifies the goods with the help of International Classification of goods for the purposes of registration of Geographical Indication.

If the registrar wants, he can publish in the prescribed manner an alphabet wise index of the goods classified.

If a question arises due to uncertainty of the list, like in which classification a particular good shall lie, then in such matter registrar takes cognizance, and the final decision rests on him."[5]

Whereas section 9 talks about the prohibition of registration of certain goods as GI tag.

Section 9 goes like this:
Nothing can be registered as a GI tag which:
  1. Might likely cause deceive or create confusion.
  2. The use of which would be contrary to the law in force.
  3. Which contains or comprises scandalous or obscene matter.
  4. Which might hurt religious sentiments of any class or section of the citizens of India.
  5. Which are disentitled for protection in a court.
  6. Which are generic names and can't be protected because they have no special characteristics and everything.
  7. Which are goods of one territory or region but falsely represent the people and locality of another region or territory.[6]
  8. The application of registration can be moved by "any association of persons or producers or any organization or authority established by or under any law for time being in force representing the interest of the producers of the concerned goods, who are desirous of registering a GI [7]
Then they have to provide in writing, in the prescribed form with three copies along with the prescribed fees. The cost of application for each class of goods is 5000 INR. It is a very lengthy and cumbersome process and if no opposition or objections are raised then it takes up to 9 months. There is no minimum time limit set up for the paper work, but if someone opposes then it can take up to 24 months, and another big burden is that a GI tag needs to be renewed every 10 years.

The application for renewal must be submitted no later than 6 months before the GI's or authorized user's last registration expires. It must be filed by the registered proprietor, or, if that is not possible, by any of the authorized users on record. If, at the expiration of a GI's or an ID's last registration, the renewal costs for the GI or authorized user are not paid, the Registrar may remove the GI or authorized user from the system. The case may be removed from the register, and the fact should be announced as soon as possible in the journal.

How Does a GI Tag Protect a Commodity?

The main reason behind allotting a commodity a GI tag is that a particular geographical location has particular qualities that no other place can replicate. The identity of a product is related to its place of origin and therefore no other person outside the community or location can use it or falsely claim it to be their property.

Geographical Indications help in preserving the local culture and tradition in the era of ever-growing globalization and free- market. "GI protection has been widely understood as a medium by which the old world secures their knowledge from the new world".[8] " The World Intellectual Property Organization, for instance, maintains that GIs can also 'highlight specific qualities of a product which are due to human factors that can be found in the place of origin of the products, such as specific manufacturing skills and traditions"[9]

GI tags has been creating a debate between these two worlds specially in the matters of agriculture particularly in Europe where the government wishes to protect their farmer from succumbing to pressure of international low- cost market. The main aim of a GI is to protect the authenticity and heritage of the commodity in an age where everything around the globe is similar, and in return profit from such authentic production.

And it does in fact protects a commodity and gives it the recognition needed by putting up the commodity in its truest form and making people aware about its origin and authenticity, by this manner it helps in protecting the intellectual property vested in the commodity. The intellectual property mostly is the place of origin and the technique by which it is made. It protects unauthorized use of the commodity. This provision is given under sections 21 and 22 of the Geographical Indications Act.

Section 21 of the act talks about the rights conferred on the holder of a GI after the registration. It goes like this:
  1. *
    1. GI, if registered properly will give the holder right against infringement.
    2. The right to use the commodity for which it is registered.
    3. The exclusive right to the use of a geographical indication given under clause (b) of sub-section (1) shall be subject to any condition and limitation to which the registration is subject.
  2. if two people have the GI tag of the same or similar commodity, they'll be able to use both commodities, but they won't infringe each -others' rights and will have the same rights against each other that they would have had if they were the sole owners of that particular GI tag."[10]
Whereas section 22(1) of the act talks about infringing a GI tag owner's right, it says:
  1. A GI tag is infringed by a person who is not an authorized user of the tag if he:
    1. Uses the tag in such a manner which makes other people believe that the particular commodity originates from another location instead of the location for it is given the tag.
    2. Uses it to pass- off a commodity falsely.
    3. uses another geographical indication to the goods which, although literally true as to the territory, region or locality in which the goods originate, falsely represents to the persons that the goods originate in the territory, region or locality in respect of which such registered geographical indication relates.[11]
Infringement of GI has some punishments with it, a holder can exercise their right in case of infringement and make the person pay for it. For instance-

Falsification of GI is punishable with a minimum imprisonment of 6 months which may extend to 2-3 years and with a minimum fine of 50,000 which may extend to 2,00,000 rupees.

Selling of goods with false GI tag- imprisonment of 6 months which can extend till 2 years, with a minimum fine of 50,000 which can extend till 2,00,000.
For false representation with respect to GI there is no minimum punishment, but the maximum punishment extends to three years of imprisonment.

Kadaknath Chicken, The GI Tag

Kadaknath Chicken comes from the tribal parts of Madhya Pradesh mainly from the Jhabua and Dhar district. It has been bred by the tribes since very early days and therefore after much mix and match of various chicken species, this species with the perfect set of characteristics was developed. The most amusing characteristic of this breed is the fact that it's totally black in color. The internal organs and the bones are black as well. It is rich in nutrients and the meat and eggs are seen as very rich source of protein. It is only black meat chicken of India and therefore the monetary and nutritional value both of this breed is very high. It has become a Pan- Indian delicacy now, and is famous in International culinary as well.

It was mostly reared by the Bhil and Bhilala tribes and comes in three different shades of black which are jet black, penciled black and golden kadaknath. "Kadaknath is a hardy breed and can thrive very well under adverse environments like poor housing, poor management and poor feeding. Kadaknath breed contains a high percentage of protein and believed to have aphrodisiac properties"[12]

It is poor in breeding but the meat and flesh are very tasty and popular. The meat has a nutritional value and is used by the tribals for medicinal purposes as well. Its meat is softer than that of local chicken breed and therefore is preferred by the consumers. An application for its GI was filed by the Gramin Vikas Trust of Krishak Bharti Cooperative, and it was granted the tag on 30th July 2018. Till date it is the only animal to be awarded a GI tag.

As read and discussed several times, the main purpose of a GI tag is to promote cultural heritage of a product and protecting the unauthorized usage, this in turn also helps in developing the rural areas from which this commodity hails. The community gets a share of profit for nurturing these goods and selling them as well as preserving their authenticity. GI tag also helps in preservation of commodity, after a commodity gets tagged, all the illegal background work or poaching as in the case of animals take a halt as strict actions are taken against those who are found violating these norms. In simpler terms it helps in preservation of the flora and fauna dedicated to a particular community as well.

Kadaknath hails from the Jhabua district of Madhya Pradesh and has become the identity- bearer of the town, and to keep this identity intact and promote local welfare there are organizations and community which help in promoting this variety of chicken. One such organization was KVK Jhabua which in 2010 started with a project to conserve this variety as it was going extinct and also linked livelihood of farmers with security.

Under National Agricultural Innovation Project it started with 10 houses and 100 birds, the scientists taught and trained the locals in breeding and taking care of the birds, several awareness programs were also run by these scientists and slowly, slowly the breed started showing signs of development and soon this moment became famous in 13 states of the country. "The intervention of KVK, Jhabua has led to conservation of Kadaknath breed, increased employment generation and reduced migration of youth".[13]

The chicken crossed states in 2014 when Kanker KVK procured 300 chicklings and brought it to the state of Chattisgarh, from where it was transferred to different parts of Maharastra, Odisha, Telengana Andhra Pradesh as well. It created wonders for people around Dantewada in Chattisgarh, where after its procurement it was distributed to Women handled Self- Help Groups which boosted their confidence, gave them a purpose in life and improved their financial condition as well.

Due to the fact that Kadaknath became a boon for the states of both Madhya Pradesh and Chattisgarh, there arised a conflict between the two districts of Jhabua and Dantewada as to which district should get the GI tag of the chicken variant. In 2012 the Gramin Vikas Trust of Jhabua Filed for an application on behalf of the tribal families breeding it, whereas the chairman of Global Business Incubator PVT LTD. Srinivas Gogineni also filed for the GI claiming that Kadaknath was reared in a homely space and has helped 160 SHGs to earn livelihood.

In the end the conflict was resolved after much deliberation and finally in 2018 the GI tag for kadaknath was given to the Jhabua district from which it originates and from where it has earned its identity and helped several poultry farmers in earning their livelihood and benefitting their financial situation.

Geographical Indication is one of the latest developments in the field of intellectual property and therefore has several grey areas still. The main difference between a GI and a Trademark would be that of cultural authenticity. As the name suggests, it gives an identity to the goods which are special and only originate in specific parts of the country, by some very specific communities only. It not only aims at preserving the commodity but also boosts livelihood of the local people.

It helps in conservation of the flora and fauna as well. If a commodity is officially registered as a GI then it has protection against the unauthorised usage and falsification as well. It becomes a symbol of authenticity and therefore anything done against such GI becomes a punishable offence. One such example of a local GI tag is the Kadaknath Chicken which originates from the Jhabua district and has acted as a boon to the farmers and tribals over there, the most unique quality of this chicken is that it is completely black in color, even its internal organs and bones are black which gives it a unique taste and the meat is softer in comparison to other chicken varieties and is preferred by the consumers, to preserve this it has been granted the GI tag after much deliberation and since then the chicken has acted as a flag- bearer of pride for the entire state. It is also the first animal to be granted a GI tag.

  1. WIPO:
  2. Anupam Mishra, S.R.K Singh, A.A Raut � 'Kadaknath Farming for Farmers' Livelihood and Empowerment' - - accessed 10 April 2022
  3. Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act 1999, S2(3)
  4. Saumya Vinayan � 'Geographical indications in India: Issues and challenges�An overview' (the journal of world intellectual property)
  5. Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act 1999, s 8
  6. Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act 1999, s 9
  7. Saumya Vinayan � 'Geographical indications in India: Issues and challenges�An overview' (the journal of world intellectual property, 2013) -
  8. Kal Raustiala, Stephen R. Munzer � 'The Global Struggle over Geographic Indications' (European Journal of International Law, Volume 18, Issue 2, April 2007) -
  9. Ibid
  10. Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act 1999, S 21
  11. Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act 1999, S22(1)
  12. Anupam Mishra, S.R.K Singh, A.A Raut � 'Kadaknath Farming for Farmers' Livelihood and Empowerment' - - accessed 10 April 2022
  13. Ibid

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