Basmati rice gets GI tag in 7 Indian states

The Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) has ordered Chennai based Geographical Indications Registry (GIR) to issue "Geographical Indication" tag for basmati rice. This GI tag will be issued to basmati rice variety grown in 7 states in the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP) on the foothills of the Himalayas.

These states are Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, parts of Uttar Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir. This tag will help to preserve the unique identity of India's aromatic basmati rice in the international markets.

Basmati Rice

  • Basmati is special long grain aromatic rice grown in a particular Indo-Gangetic Plains geographical region of the Indian sub-continent.
  • Historically it is being produced in undivided India from long time and with a recorded history of over 200 years.
  • Exports: India is largest producer and exporter on the Basmati rice in the world. Major chunk of India's basmati rice is exported to Gulf countries viz. Saudi Arabia, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Kuwait.

Litigation involved:

  • The application has been mired in litigation after farmers and exporters and Madhya Pradesh wanted to be included in the list of States approved by the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA).

Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority

  • It is the statutory body responsible for export promotion and development of certain scheduled products.

Basmati Exports

  • In 2014-15, India exported 37 lakh MT of Basmati Rice to the world worth Rs. 27,597.87 crore and is    the world's leading exporter of the rice, according to APEDA.
  • India exports a major quantity of basmati rice to Saudi Arabia, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Iraq and Kuwait.

What is a geographical indication?

  • A geographical indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
  • In order to function as a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place.
  • In addition, the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin. Since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a clear link between the product and its original place of production.
  • Under Articles 1 (2) and 10 of the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property, geographical indications are covered as an element of Intellectual Property Rights.
  • They are also covered under Articles 22 to 24 of the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement, which was part of the Agreements concluding the Uruguay Round of GATT negotiations.
  • India, as a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection)Act, 1999 has come into force with effect from 15th September 2003.

India has 236 GI products registered so far and over 270 more products have applied for the label. Let's take a look at 10 such geographical indicators in India:

Darjeeling TeaDarjeeling Tea was the first Indian product to get the geographical indication tag. In 2004, the famous beverage got the recognition. It is one of the top exported food products of the country.

Mysore SilkThe famous fabric of Karnataka got included into the GI family in 2005. The state, specifically Mysore, produces around 9,000 metric tonnes of Mysore Silk every year.

Odisha PattachitraPattachitra is a form of art that originated in Odisha. It is a pictorial narrative painted on a cloth-based scroll. Generally, the scrolls depict the tales of Hindu gods and goddesses.

Blue PotteryOne of them famous traditional crafts of Rajasthan is the Blue Pottery made in Jaipur and its surrounding areas. Besides its striking blue colour, the handicraft product is also unique because of its material. It is not made of clay but by mixing quartz stone powder, powdered glass, Multani Mitti (Fuller's Earth), borax, gum, soda bicarbonate and water.

Kashmir PashminaIn Persian, pasmina means made of wool and in Kashmiri, it means soft gold. The Kashmir Pashmina is native to the region because it can only be made from the wool of three breeds of goats - Changthangi, Chegu and Chyangara - that can only be found in Kashmir and some parts of Nepal.

Phulkari, PunjabPunjab, Haryana and Rajasthan have many things in common, among which one is the colourful designs of Phulkari. It is an embroidery technique using beautiful designs of flowers on shawls, scarves, saris etc. It is said that earlier, real flowers were used in the process.

Nagpur OrangeNagpur is also known as the Orange City. This shows the deep relation the place shares with its pulpy oranges. The Nagpur Oranges were registered as a GI in April 2014.

Mizo ChilliAlso known as the Bird's Eye Chilli, Mizo Chilli is one of the hottest food items in the world. The chilli is so hot that the local people handle it very carefully and treat it with respect. It can only be consumed in small quantities as people have been reported to avail medical assistance when they tried their hands on this little thing!

Lucknow Chikan CraftChikan craft is famous all over the world. The Lucknow specialty was given the GI status in December 2008. The textile design is said to be introduced by Nur Jehan, wife of Mughal emperor Jahangir.

Hyderabad HaleemThe Hyderabad Haleem is perhaps the only Indian dish to have got a GI status. It is a stew prepared from meat, lentils and pounded wheat. The item is mostly eaten at iftar during the Islamic month of Ramadan. The mouthwatering delicacy received the GI tag in 2010.

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