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GI tag for Basmati Rice to Pakistan : a cause of concern for India?

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Syllabus: GS 2 – Bilateral, regional and global groupings and agreements involving India and/or affecting India’s interests.

Synopsis: Pakistan secures the Geographical Indications (GI) tag for its Basmati rice. Experts say it would in no way affect India’s Basmati exports.

Introduction:

Before partition in 1947, both India and Pakistan shared the Basmati rice-growing zone. After partition, Basmati rice became a joint heritage of India and Pakistan.

What is the Geographical Indications (GI) tag?

A GI tag is a sign used on goods that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are specific to that origin.

  • The tag can be awarded for agricultural products, foodstuffs, wine, handicrafts, and industrial products.
  • A GI tag is a part of the intellectual property rights that comes under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.
  • Once a product is accorded a GI tag, it is protected by various legislations, such as legislations by the World Intellectual Property Organization.

What are the regions comes under Basmati zone of both Nation?

India’s Basmati Zone includes- Jammu & Kashmir, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Uttar Pradesh.

Pakistan’s Basmati belt was the Kalar bowl, a tract of land between Ravi and the Chenab rivers, covering the districts of Narowal, Sialkot, Gujranwala, Hafizabad, and Skeikhupura in Punjab province.

How did Pakistan get the GI tag?

Pakistan has been also exporting Basmati rice to European countries, along with India. It is only after enacting the act, that a country can claim for GI tag. Pakistan has just enacted the GI Act and is now following India’s path. Whereas, India enacted the GI Act in 2001.

India also applied for an exclusive GI tag to Indian-origin basmati rice. The application was published in the EU journal in 2020.

The geographical identity of Basmati is attached to the Indo-Gangetic Plains. Madhya Pradesh, which is outside this belt, also asked to be included in the GI tag for Basmati. It is only after the inclusion of MP that Pakistan pushed its case for Basmati and received it.

Is it a cause of concern for India?

It is not a cause of concern for India.  India never contested Pakistan’s claim of GI tag for Basmati rice.

Initially, both countries were inclined to file for GI tag together, however, this move could not be successful, due to the following reasons;

    • Firstly, Pakistan had no nodal authority with which the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority [APEDA] of India could have dealt.
    • Secondly, the plan was interrupted by political issues also.  

Pakistan produces Basmati only in its 14 districts in comparison to the 7 States of India. The output of India is very large in comparison to Pakistan, and it won’t be affected by the GI tag.

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