India resorts to half-truth for Tangail Saree’s GI recognition: Debapriya
He suggests taking legal action as there is a provision in the Indian GI law for submitting objections within three months of the recognition
Half-truth and misleading information were used while recognising the Tangail Saree as a product of Geographical Indication (GI) for India, alleges Debapriya Bhattacharya, distinguished fellow of the Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD).
While addressing a discussion on Saturday, he stood firm against the Indian recognition, saying it can never be a GI product of India and Bangladesh should file a lawsuit in this regard in the court of the neighbouring country.
The CPD organised the programme, titled “Recognition of Tangail Saree as West Bengal’s GI product: Process, Situation and Actions of Bangladesh,” at its office in the capital’s Dhanmondi area.
Recently, the Indian ministry for industries extended its GI recognition to the traditional handloom saree and described it as ‘Tangail Saree of Bengal’, sparking a huge criticism in Bangladesh.
What did our concerned offices do during such a long period? Even the trade bodies did not raise any questions, let alone the government. It is our ignorance and failure.
Traders, GI experts, lawyers, and rights activists here protested the Indian government’s recognition and said the saree solely belongs to Bangladesh since there is no place called Tangail in India.
At the discussion, Debapriya Bhattacharya pointed out various inconsistencies in India's GI recognition for Tangail Saree and the product’s historical and geographical origins in Bangladesh.
In the GI application of India, it was noted that the Hindu Tantubai community was involved in weaving Tangail Saree and that they migrated to different localities in West Bengal of India during the partition.
Debapriya said the statement is contradictory to the reality as many Muslims, in addition to the Hindus, have long been involved with production of Tangail Saree in the Tangail area of Bangladesh. In fact, the Muslims are more involved in the production process than the Hindus.
The noted economist further said the GI recognition involves the product’s geographical background, quality, and preservation. It is true that some people involved with the product migrated to India during the partition, but it is not enough to alter its geographical identity. Fraudulent information has been used while providing the GI recognition to Tangail Saree.
The authorities here should handle the issues carefully as any procedural errors might play the determining role in international arbitrations on intellectual properties.
He suggested the authorities here take legal action as there is a provision in the Indian GI law for submitting objections within three months of the recognition. The ground that India used for the GI recognition is not based on facts and unlikely to sustain in argument. It is an advantage for Bangladesh, but it needs to be cashed in.
Following the GI recognition in India, the concerned offices in Bangladesh turned proactive and took a quick initiative to apply for GI recognition of Tangail Saree in Bangladesh through the district administration of Tangail. The application was accepted immediately and sent to the government press for printing the gazette notification.
Debapriya criticised the haste and warned about possible errors in the process. He pointed out that the application for GI recognition in India was submitted in 2020 and all documents were available on their website.
“What did our concerned offices do during such a long period? Even the trade bodies did not raise any questions, let alone the government. It is our ignorance and failure. But the way it is being claimed to have GI recognition is meaningless. We may commit any errors in such a hasty process,” he said.
Another distinguished fellow, Mustafizur Rahman, underscored the need for careful handling of the issues, citing that the procedural errors might play the determining role in international arbitrations on intellectual properties.
CPD executive director Fahmida Khatun moderated the programme.