A copyright for Bikaneri bhujia, Hyderbadi haleem

A variety of chilli from Guntur, wine from Nashik, Mahabaleshwar strawberry and Hyderabadi haleem — the GI registry of India has just become bigger. The Registrar of Geographical Indications (GI) has accepted the claims by more products, all part of local prestige in their respective home regions.

In the past four months, the list has grown from 120 to 132, adding Bikaneri bhujia from Rajasthan, Guntur Sannam chilli, Hyderabadi haleem and Gadwal sarees from Andhra Pradesh, Nashik valley wine, Mahabaleshwar strawberry and Paithani sarees from Maharashtra, Kinnauri shawl from Himachal Pradesh, Kasaragod sarees and Kuthampully sarees from Kerala, Sandur Lambani embroidery from Karnataka, and hand-made carpet from Bhadohi in Uttar Pradesh.

Getting the GI tag would ensure that none other than those registered as authorised users (or at least those residing inside the geographic territory) would be allowed to use the popular product name, an assurance of distinctiveness in a land of thousand cultures.

"In the rural parts of our country, there are produces or products that are distinct to the region due to a variety of reasons ranging from climate to demographics. Over decades, and some times centuries, many such products become famous, making it a brand of its own. It is important that we protect these 'brands' in the interest of local artisans and producers," pointed out Sanjai Gandhi, an attorney in Chennai who was instrumental in getting the tag for 10 products in Tamil Nadu, the most popular one being the Kancheepuram silk sarees.

For instance, in the case of Kancheepuram silk sarees, one of the most popular textile produce in the southern part of the country that has tradition and heritage woven into it, the primary threat while marketing it outside the state was the flooding of machine-produced cheaper sarees made in places including China under the same 'Kancheepuram' label. "For the weaver in Kacheepuram who could be the third or fourth generation from his family to be in this line, this is a serious issue affecting livelihood like in the case of any trademark or patent infringement, but more severe and direct," Gandhi added.

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