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GI status for five products that Himanch

  Dec 17, 2020

GI status for five products that Himanchal Government is trying to obtain.

Q. Why is this in news? 

  • The Himachal Pradesh government is trying to obtain GIs (Geographical Indication) for five products from the state – Karsog Kulth, Thangi of Pangi, Chamba Metal Crafts, Chamba Chukh, and Rajmah of Bharmour.

Q. What is a Geographical Indication?

  • The World Intellectual Property Organisation defines a GI as “a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin”.
  • GIs are typically used for agricultural products, foodstuffs, handicrafts, industrial products, wines and spirit drinks. Darjeeling tea, Kullu shawl, Mysore agarbathi, champagne (France), Swiss watches etc are some of its examples.
  • Internationally, GIs are covered as an element of intellectual property rights under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property. They are also covered under the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement 

Q. What is special about these five products from Himachal?

  1. Karsog Kulth: Kulthi or Kulth (horse gram) is a legume grown as a kharif crop in Himachal Pradesh. Kulth grown in the Karsog area of Mandi district is believed to be particularly rich in amino acids.
  2. Pangi ki Thangi: It is a type of hazelnut which grows in Pangi valley located in the northwestern edge of Himachal. It is known for its unique flavour and sweetness.
  3. Chamba metal crafts: These include items such as metal idols and brass utensils which, historically, were made by skilled artisans in the courts of kings of Chamba. There are efforts to revive the trade, and a plate made from a brass-like alloy and having carvings of gods and goddesses is still popular.
  4. Chamba Chukh: It’s a chutney made from green and red chillies grown in Chamba, and prepared in traditional and unique ways. The practice has largely declined in rural households of Chamba, but survives to some extent at the small-scale industrial level.
  5. Bharmouri Rajmah: It’s more specifically called the Kugtalu Rajmah, since it grows in the area around Kugti Pass in the Bharmour region of Chamba district. It is rich in proteins and has a unique flavour.

Q. How will the Himachal govt seek GIs for these products?

  • For the Chamba metal crafts, historical literature can help establish their unique characteristics and reputation. 
  • For the other four agricultural products, however, they will have to identify their distinctive genealogical characteristics. 
  • Once the characteristic features of all products are identified, the Council will apply for GI status to the central government’s Office of the Controller General of Patents, Designs and Trademarks under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. 
  • After the application, teams from the Centre will investigate the claims and the time taken to award a GI typically takes two to four years.

Q. How many registered GIs does Himachal currently have?

  • Eight. These include four handicrafts (Kullu Shawl, Chamba Rumal, Kinnauri Shawl and Kangra Paintings), three agricultural products (Kangra Tea, Basmati and Himachali Kala Zeera) and one manufactured product (Himachali Chulli Oil).
  • Kullu Shawl and Kangra Tea were the first to be registered in 2005-06. Basmati has been registered jointly from seven states of North India, including Himachal Pradesh. Chulli (apricot) oil and kala jeera (cumin), mainly associated with Kinnaur and known for their medicinal properties, were the last to be registered in 2018-19. There are 370 registered GIs in India.

Q. How does a GI tag help?

  • A GI tag provides a better market for these products and prevents misuse of the name. A GI registration is given to an area, not a trader, but once a product gets the registration, traders dealing in the product can apply for selling it with the GI logo. Authorised traders are each assigned a unique GI number. For example, Kullu shawl has 135 authorised traders. A shawl made in Ludhiana cannot be sold as a Kullu shawl. If any unauthorised trader, even from Kullu, tries to sell a shawl under the name of Kullu shawl, he or she can be prosecuted under The Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999.