Know all about Geographical indication or GI tag! - Seeker's Thoughts

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Know all about Geographical indication or GI tag!

Introduction: GI tag and its importance 
Shahi litchi from Bihar has received Geographical Indication (GI) tag after Katrani rice, jardalu mango and magahi paan (betel vine). From Chennai based Geographical indication registry and intellectual property India. The GI registration was done in name Muzaffarpur –based litchi Growers Association of Bihar.
The famous Shahi litchi, which is famous for its sweet juicy, unique flavor and aroma is mostly grown in Muzaffarpur and neighboring districts including East Champaran, Vaishali, samastipu and begusarai. Bihar produces 40% of the litchis grown in India on 38% if the area. 

What is Geographical indication (GI) tag? 
The word GI is an indication of the geographical location which indicates the product associated with a certain area or region. Actually. It has become a trademark of that region and the place becomes famous by the name of that product. It is used for agriculture, natural and manufactured goods having special quality and established reputation. Such products  are recognized for their origin and this GI Tag gives them required edge in global market.  It also ensures that none can use their name, they have the exclusive right on the product. 

GI tag mechanism in India 
Government of India enacted Geographical Indications of goods (registration and protection) Act in 1999 which came into force in 2003 as per this act: 
1- Registrar of geographical indication -- for GI tag one can apply through this person 
2- Intellectual Property Appellate Board to hear appeal over the decisions of the registrar of geographical indication. 
3- Geographical indications registry should be maintained to keep the GI-database at Chennai. 
4- GI rights are given to an association of persons, producer, organizations (it is a community right), because geographical indications are not built up by one individual but by a community or persons. 
6- Punishment for violating GI is also applicable.  For example - (any person selling Banaras saree” but they’re actually made in Bengal this will be considered as a fraud). 
7- Registration of geographical indication is valid for a period of 10 years, after that it have be renewed. 

International mechanism of GI tag 
Under WTO Trade related intellectual property rights (TRIPS), the member nations have to respect geographical indications. They have to take measures to prevent violation if GI rights for example -order custom authorities seize bogus products. If a product enjoys GI status in member nation A then member nation B should not grant trade mark for the same. 

Significance of GI tag 
When a product is given GI status, its price increases in international market because consumers in first world prefer such “exotic” items, it helps to boost exports. The poor farmer/artisans from the given region have to face less competition from fraudulence, it preserves their rights. It is indirectly leading to sustainable development as a particular area or region is naturally has the product for centuries.. 

Issues  
India has huge social cultural, ethnic, food diversities and thousands of products would qualify for GI tag, but most of the people engaged in the production of such products are small households or small units, although in the same area. So, it is often difficult to organize them into associations and apply for the GI registration.