Geographical Indication (GI) Tag is given to a product/good that is unique to a location, and to safeguard the quality of the product and prevent unauthorized use of a Registered Geographical Indication by others. A total of 420 GI tags were registered in India as of 31 March 2022. More than 35% of these were registered from the Southern states.
Many products that we come across in our daily lives, such as Kashmir Saffron, Rasagola, Pochampalli Ikat or Solapur Chaddar, may be linked to some geographical location that proudly holds the patronage and authority to secure recognition and protection of their product in the market. The product can be a food, handicraft or agricultural product that is unique to the place and is popular across states or even countries. Such products are the origin’s claim to fame and attract consumers from across the world because of their distinctive features.
These products are given a Geographical Indication (GI) Tag to safeguard the quality of the product and prevent unauthorized use of a Registered Geographical Indication by others. In other words, the GI Tag provides security to the unique goods which are either manufactured or produced by an individual or an association of people. GIs play a crucial role in trade and economy. In addition to branding goods and marketing strategies, GIs have been vital for the preservation of traditional knowledge and cultural practices. It also helps contribute to rural development by supporting the regional producers.
In India, The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act was passed in December 1999 and came into effect in 2003. It comes under the purview of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Under this Act, the Geographical Indications Registry was introduced, in which a register on GIs is maintained containing the details of the GI along with the basic details of the proprietors and authorized users. The product is registered initially for a period of 10 years which may be renewed once the period is over based on the provisions of the act.
420 GI goods have been registered in India in 18 years
As per the information provided on the registry website, a total of 420 GI goods have been registered in India as of 31 March 2022. The registration of GIs began in the year 2004-05 and the first applicant was from West Bengal for Darjeeling Tea. Darjeeling Tea has received the GI status for both the product name and the logo.
On an average, 23-24 goods get registered in India annually. In the first year (2004-05) when the registrations began, only 3 goods- Darjeeling Tea, Aranmula mirror, and Pochampalli Ikat were registered. However, in 2008-09, 45 goods secured the GI tag. Since 2010-11, a minimum of 20 goods have secured the tag each year, except in 2020-21, when only five goods were given the tag, indicating the impact of the pandemic. However, in 2021-22, 50 goods found their way to the registry, the highest number in a year.
Italy accounts for nearly 50% of the Goods registered from outside India
Of these 420 registered goods, the origin of 29 goods is outside India. These products are registered in India to ensure recognition and protection of their rights. These products are mainly cheese, wines, and spirits. A total of 12 countries including the UK, USA, Ireland, France, Italy, Mexico, Thailand, Peru, Portugal, Czech Republic, Greece, and Germany have registered products in India. About 50% of these registered goods from outside India are from Italy. In 2021-22 alone, Italy registered 9 goods including Gorgonzola cheese and Toscano vine.
Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Lakshadweep, and Chandigarh have no entry in the registry
GIs have been registered from almost all the States and UTs, except Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, and Lakshadweep. That is, goods belonging exclusively to the states have been registered by all states except Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi while these states possess only those goods which are shared by other states. For instance, Punjab, Haryana, and Delhi along with other states share the GI tag for Basmati rice.
Of the 420 goods registered in the GI registry, 28 are shared between states. Such goods have been added to each of the states to which they belong for analysis, because of which the total number of goods does not add up to 420. In other words, the GI Tag for Malabar Pepper is shared among Kerala, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. For analysis, this has been added to each of these states as 1 for Kerala, 1 for Karnataka, and 1 for Tamil Nadu. Some of the examples of such shared goods are Monsooned Malabar Arabica Coffee and Monsooned Malabar Robusta Coffee from Kerala and Karnataka, Warli Painting along the Western states of Maharashtra, Gujarat, Dadra and Nager Haveli and Daman & Diu, Kolhapuri chappal from Karnataka and Maharashtra, and Dalle Khursani which is a type of chilly from Sikkim and West Bengal.
South Indian states account for more than one-third of the GI registrations
Among states, Karnataka has the largest number of registered GI tags. 45 goods have been registered from Karnataka including 3 goods registered from multiple states where Karnataka is one of the states. Tamil Nadu has the second-highest number of registrations (44) including 42 unique registrations and 2 shared registrations. Uttar Pradesh, Kerala, and Maharashtra have more than 30 goods registered each, and West Bengal has 22 goods registered. Together, these 6 states account for more than 48% of the total number of registrations (including shared). The South Indian states of Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Puducherry alone account for more than one-third of the registrations. (36%)
85% of the registered goods are either handicrafts or agricultural goods
All GI-registered goods are categorized into five categories. These are manufactured, natural, agricultural goods, handicrafts, and foodstuffs. About 55% (232) of the registered goods belong to the Handicrafts category. Agricultural goods contributed to 128 (30%) of the 420 GI registrations. Only 38 manufactured goods and 20 foodstuffs were registered. The only two natural products registered are Makrana Marble of Rajasthan and Chunar Balua Patthar from Uttar Pradesh. In 2021-22, 16 agricultural goods and 14 manufactured goods entered the registry, the highest number of registrations from the two categories in a year.
Among the 29 non-Indian origin goods registered, 25 were manufactured goods, 3 were foodstuffs, and one was handicraft – the Lamphun Brocade Thai Silk from Thailand.
483 applications are pending with the government for scrutiny, as on 31 October 2022
The latest (421st) and only product to enter the GI Registry in 2022-23 so far is the Mithila Makhana. The GI registry has received a total of 1012 applications since inception, as on 31 October 2022. About 483 applications were pending scrutiny. Some of the latest applications are for the Pithora Painting of Madhya Pradesh, Banaras Thandai, Jaunpur Imarti, and Nihonshu / Japanese Sake.
Featured Image: Geographical Indication tags