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Dhaka Tribune

CPD: Govt needs to file a lawsuit over Tangail sari GI

India has also completed the registration procedure for Bangladeshi GI product ‘Dhakai Muslin’ as ‘Bengal Muslin’, CDP says

Update : 10 Feb 2024, 08:00 PM

The Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD)  urged the Bangladesh High Commission in India to promptly initiate legal measures to resolve the ongoing dispute regarding the registration of the Tangail sari as a Geographical Indication (GI).

Dr Debapriya Bhattachrya, distinguished fellow of the CPD said that Bangladesh has time to act, and the first step should be to file a lawsuit under Indian law through the Bangladesh High Commission.

He also highlighted the importance of hiring qualified lawyers in the relevant field to contest the case.

This measure is critical for protecting the country's intellectual property, he went on saying that the proposed task force could recommend measures so that such a situation does not arise in the future. 

Dr Debapriya was speaking at a press conference titled “On Tangail Sari-GI India, What Happened and What Can be Done” in the capital on Saturday. 

Over the last week, there have been intense discussions on social media about India's designation of Tangail sari as a GI product originating in West Bengal, raising concerns about the rightful ownership of the GI tag for Tangail sari.

Meanwhile, on February 7, the Department of Patents, Designs, and Trademarks (DPDT) of the Ministry of Industries designated the Tangail sari as a Geographical Indication (GI) product of Bangladesh.

He called upon the government to establish a “Multidisciplinary Taskforce” to address the issue of intellectual property in Bangladesh, with a focus on safeguarding the interests of local producers and the economy, particularly in the aftermath of the country's graduation from the Least Developed Country (LDC) status. 

On January 2, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry of India gave the product GI recognition and the issue arose following a post on the verified Facebook page of India's Ministry of Culture on February 1 proclaiming the recognition where the Indian ministry said that the Tangail sari originated in West Bengal.

Indian Ministry of Culture`s post on its official Facebook on January 18, 2024. Photo: Courtesy

Debapriya also said that India misrepresented and misused the information during application for recognition of Tangail sari as a GI product.

He added saying that the quality of geographic sourcing cannot be judged by the geographic transfer of skills and that there are many Muslim weavers in Tangail working on saris. India misused and misrepresented the information. 

Responding to a question, he said that the policy makers in the country do not consult with civil society, producers and stakeholders in formulating policies.

“Bureaucrats always perform ‘pro forma exercises’ in policy making without proper discussion and documentation, so the quality falls,” he added. 

By registering a Gl for Tangail sari, India has demonstrated an inclination to “free ride” which may lead to unfair competition for Bangladeshi producers of Tangail sari and a question regarding the ethical integrity of the measure may also be raised.

The market for Tangail saris of Bangladesh is worldwide, spanning Europe, North America, Middle East, Japan and even several Indian states.

Bangladesh exports about 50,000 saris to India every week. India now has the opportunity to capitalize on the heritage brand of Bangladeshi Tangail sari, which was built over 250 years, according to him.

He also said that apart from the Tangail sari, India has also completed the registration procedure for the Bangladeshi GI product “Dhakai Muslin” as “Bengal Muslin.”

He urged the government to file a case in the Indian Court through the Bangladeshi High Commission in Delhi and the Deputy High Commission in Kolkata to begin the legal procedure on the Muslin issue.

So far, there have been 21 products registered as GI of Bangladesh, he went on and urge the government to constantly monitor the GI Journal of other countries, particularly regarding the shared resources with India, which has to be done.

CPD Distinguished Fellow Professor Mustafizur Rahman said that in the WTO, countries don't get what they deserve, but what they negotiate.

He put high emphasis on the legal procedure and negotiation by the Industry Ministry and Foreign Ministry in this regard.

Fahmida Khatun, research director of the CPD, moderated the event.

 

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