Geographical Indications (GI) are a type of intellectual property right
associated with place-based names. In other words Geographical indications,
which identify a good as originating in a locality where a given quality,
reputation, or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to
its geographical origin.
Example Darjeeling Tea, Kancheevram Sarees, Agra Petha,
Mysore Silk etc. They provide consumers, information about the origin and arouse
expectations among them with regard to the expectation based on the reputation
acquired by the product on account of its cultural connection with the region or
environmental conditions and natural factors.
There may be other reasons such as
method of manufacture, human efforts etc. In short GIs emphasize the relation
between human efforts, culture, land resources, and environment. Thirupati Laddu,
Aranmula Kannadi etc are examples. In comparison to other Intellectual Property
Rights Geographical Indications are considered more suitable to the ethos and
cultural practices of indigenous peoples.
Issues in the field of handicrafts
As above stated many GIs are manufactured with the human efforts, the issue is
whether these persons actually benefited from the GI tag or whether they got
rewarded for their work done as said by Locke in his Second Treatise of
There are different kinds of GIs such as handicrafts, food stuffs
etc. Handicrafts is the most vivid and important documents of a nations
identity. It is a full time labour intensive occupation requiring creativity to
produce functional, aesthetic, and economical products. Handicrafts goods gain
their value through the material, pattern, production technique, skill of the
craftsman who made them and the characteristics of the region in which they were
There is a high demand for handicraft products in the domestic and
international market as they are made with completely natural materials and
carry regional and traditional features in terms of colour, design, pattern,
shape, composition, and sometimes production technique.
Men, Women, and child are employed in making handicrafts. Most of the GIs
including handicrafts are of household type. It is worth noting that the family
workers are not less exploited. Sometimes the parents themselves turn to be the
most ruthless exploiters of their own children. Work force employed in these
fields is dominated by females, males constitute less than one third of craft
The workers are affected by various problems such as improper
physical development, varied kinds of illness and physical deformities, damage
to the central nervous systems, lack of capacity to adjust with other persons in
the society, inability to express views etc.
According to the survey conducted
by B.A. Bhat and T.A. Rather reveals that the most people engaged in the
handicrafts field are from economically disadvantaged families, greater the
poverty, the more aggravated the situation. Men and women most probably
children’s in the field begin work in family undertaking from an early age
alongside their parents/relatives and sometimes with master craftsmen. As most
of the GIs are households, the participation of children is to be noticed
because they automatically involved in the job.
According to study conducted most of the work they do is monotonous, repetitive,
and dull and is often not suited to their physical and mental capabilities. Some
children are ill-treated, humiliated, and even beaten while others are looked
after with parental care, which acts as an incentive and motivates these young
children to undertake arduous and hard work beyond their capacity for a long
duration. This adversely affects their health and well being.
Handicrafts work especially shawl bawfi and carpet weaving requires using of
fingers intensively for working with wool and cotton threads concentrating
heavily on the fine knots used for weaving by sitting down for hours. In such
situation aching and irritation of eyes, fingers, joint pain, back pain, chest
pains caused by in hailing of cotton and wool dust can be said to be natural.
They have to stand for hours as their nature of the work demands; in short they
have to work for eight hours continuously.
However the Factory Act of 1948 prescribed five and a half hours of work for
the child labourers every day. In most cases there will be absence of medical
care at the work places. The survey reveals that if the employers fall sick the
employers will not help them financially which make the situation worse.
The main purpose of GI Act is two fold
To protect the consumer interests by preventing them from getting deceived by
false imitations which are sold in the name of a high quality, well reputed
Protection of producers interests so as to ensure that their reputation is not
damaged due to counterfeit versions sold in the market on the name of their
But this is not actually happening in the case of many GIs. For example,
granting GI tag to Thirupati Laddu. It does not intend to protect interests of
skilled cooks by allowing a share in commercial income by traders. Here TTD is
sole producer and sole beneficiary. All those Tirupati laddu makers are regular
workers of TTD, who never get any share in profits out of selling laddus.
Government of India has enacted a number of legislation on the protection of
workers, on Geographcial Indications, on human rights dimensions etc but the
most important is that ninety percent of the labourers were not aware of any
such legislations and their rights. Lack of quality education as well as lack of
concern on the part of government and civil society is a primary reason for the
lack of awareness about the legislation. As far as child labour is concerned,
complete ban of child labour or the like is not the answer what is needed is
improvement of the conditions under which they work.
The transfer of cultural heritage for future generations and protection of
handicrafts in communities are important. Geographical indication is a crucial
tool of branding and protecting of handicrafts. So wide range awareness with
regard to GIs should be created. As far as the human rights issues is concerned
it has achieving a tremendous stage, no one is showing concern towards the
problem. The labourers facing inhuman attitude on the part of their employers,
they work in very much dirty environment, the laws always remained confined in
the papers as reflected by the action of the government to create awareness
among the labourers.
- Raju Narayana Swamy
- Lisa P Lukose, Rationale and Prospects of the Protection of GI: An
inquiry 12 JIPRS 212 (2007).
- Albayrak Mevhibe & Melda Ozdemir, The role of Geographical Indication in
brand making of Turkish handicraft, 11 IJTK 420 (2011)
- B.A. Bhat and T.A. Rather, Child labour in the handicrafts home industry
in Kashmir: A Sociological Study 4 INTERNATIONAL NGO JOURNAL 391 (2009).
- S.N Mishra & Sweeta Mishra, Tiny Hands In Unorganized Sector 5-6 (2004)
Professor Madabhushi Sridhar, GI for laddus whose interest protected?
SINAPSE AN IP RENDEZVOUS, visited on (16 March 2010) available at gttp://indiaipinfo.blogsspot.com