Take steps for GI recognition of Bangladeshi products

Prothom Alo illustration

Our industries ministry has finally waken up after India's recognition of the Tangail Saree as its own Geographical Indication (GI) product. India on 1 February certified Tangail Saree as its GI product for 10 years.

The report of India's recognition of the Tangail Saree created huge outcry among the people of Bangladesh. The authorities concerned then became active. Department of Patents, Designs and Trademarks (DPDT) of industries ministry on 8 February published a journal recognizing Tangail Saree as a GI product.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at a cabinet meeting on Sunday asked the authorities concerned to take initiatives to give GI certificates to the products of Bangladesh. DPDT, deputy commissioners of 64 districts and divisional commissioners of 8 divisions have been asked to take necessary initiatives.

Earlier, the industries ministry presented Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina with GI certificates for three iconic products. The ministry primarily recognized Tagail Saree by adding it to the list of products with GI products. Why had the ministry been hibernating for so long?

How could India recognise Tangail Saree as its own product as it is named after Tangail district in Bangladesh? Weavers of Tangail have been weaving this variant of saree for several hundred years.

Center for Policy Dialogue’s (CPD) distinguished fellow Debapriya Bhattacharya alleged  India resorted to half-truth and misleading information used while recognising the Tangail Saree as a its GI product.

He added that Bangladesh should file a lawsuit in this regard in the court of the neighbouring country. As per India’s GI related law, any objection should be reported within three months.

The logic that are being presented that the Hindu weavers of Tangail fled to India after the partition and they later weaved the saree in West Bengal is not true. The fact is that not only Hindus but also Muslim weavers also make Tangail Saree for a long time. In this respect, the logic India came up with is not justifiable.

It is important that Bangladesh brings forward the supporting data and rationale for availing GI certificate of its products. Any conflict that arises over the GI issue with India or any other country should be settled through discussion. And if the matter cannot be resolved bilaterally, Bangladesh should go to international forum such as Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property (1883), Madrid Agreement on Indicators of Source (1891), Lisbon Agreement for the Protection of Origin and their International Registration (1958) and Trade-Related Intellectual Property Law (TRIPS-1994) of WTO.

It can be noted that 21 products of Bangladesh including Jamdani saree, Hilsha fish, Rajshahi Silk and Dhaka’s Muslin got GI certificates. We hope that the government would take necessary steps to ensure our own and traditional products get GI recognition.