Ministry rushes to register GI products after Tangail sari loss to India

India has registered the "Tangail sari" as its own GI

YASIR WARDAD | Tuesday, 13 February 2024

The Ministry of Industries is expediting the registration of products as geographical indications (GIs) as four more items have been published in the official journal, granting them GI status in Bangladesh.
The latest additions include Haribhanga mango from Rangpur, Agar wood and Agar Attar from Moulvibazar, and Monda from Muktgacha. This brings the total number of Bangladesh's GI-registered products to 28.
The ministry has registered a total of seven products in the past few days as Bangladeshi GIs.
According to insiders, the recent rush in registrations follows revelations that India has registered the "Tangail sari," a Bangladeshi heritage product, as its own GI.
The Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks initiated the GI registration process in 2013 with the passing of the Geographical Indication Products (Registration and Protection) Act. The process was further streamlined with the enactment of the Geographical Indications Rules in 2015.
Since 2016, when Jamdani sari became the first GI product, 27 others have been added to the list, including Bangladesh Hilsa fish, Chapainbabganj Khirsapat Mango, Vijaypur White Soil, Dinajpur Kataribhog rice and Rajshahi Silk.
On Sunday, Industries Minister Nurul Mazid Mahmud Humayun presented the approval documents for Tangail Sari, Amritsagar Banana of Narsingdi and Rasgulla of Gopalganj to Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Besides, Nakshi Kantha of Jamalpur and Date Molasses of Jashore are undergoing the GI registration process and are expected to be published next week, said officials.
Meanwhile, the local think-tank Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) raised concerns that India has also completed the GI registration process for "Muslin," a clothing product historically and geographically associated with the Dhaka region.
Bangladesh already has a GI for "Dhakai Muslin," reflecting its long-standing fame.
At a recent seminar, CPD urged the Bangladesh High Commission in India to file a legal challenge contesting India's registration of the Tangail sari as a Geographical Indication (GI).
The CPD also advocated for the formation of a "multidisciplinary task force" to safeguard Bangladeshi intellectual property rights, particularly during the country's transition out of least developed country (LDC) status.
CPD distinguished fellow Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya said apart from Tangail sari, India has also completed the registration procedure for Bangladeshi GI- 'Dhakai Muslin' as 'Bengal Muslin'.
It is now the most important task for the government to be done to file a case in India following the Indian law, he said.
Mr Debapriya said there are several inconsistencies in India's GI application for Tangail sari.
He also said that per Indian claim that the weavers within the Hindu community from Tangail who migrated to various parts of West Bengal during the partition in 1947 and are only actively involved in its production is not true.
Weavers within both Hindu and Muslim communities in the Tangail region have historically contributed to making the saris. Muslims played a pivotal role, he said.
He criticised the GI recognition process in India, pointing out that it encompasses factors such as geographical origin, quality, and safety, and asserted that half-truth or deceptive information was used to obtain GI status for Tangail sari in India.
The CPD distinguished fellow called upon Bangladesh to challenge this decision in the Indian court within the stipulated three-month objection period, leveraging factual inconsistencies to strengthen its case.
Following India's GI recognition of the Tangail sari, the government departments concerned were prompted into action, with the Tangail district administration swiftly applying for GI status for the sari.
However, Mr Debapriya criticised the haste in this process, questioning why relevant departments had not taken action earlier despite the GI application being filed by India in 2020.
He cautioned against rushed decisions, emphasising the need for careful consideration to avoid errors.
Dr Debapriya also showed the importance of a cautious approach regarding GI protection for similar products shared between Bangladesh and India.

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