Introduction: Geographical Indication refers to a tag given on products possessing certain qualities, characteristics, reputation attributable to its geographical origin. These tags help to identify and differentiate products having unique characteristics or geographic roots. There needs to be a definite connection between the product and the place of origin of that product. GI tags can help in branding and marketing of local products which helps to increase sale. Replication of GI tags can attract penalties.
The Act or statute which gives protection to Geographical Indications (GI) in India is The
Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1992.
On the basis of the nature, for a product to obtain GI can be divided into 4 categories:
iv) Food Stuff
Rasagola is an Indian sweet which is usually syrupy and is one of the popular desserts in the Indian
subcontinent. Not only in India, but Rasagola is popular in abroad as well. Rasagola has various
names, shapes, colours, texture, juice content and method of manufacturing. It is primarily using
chenna and sugar but it can be prepared in multiple methods. Rasagola is traditionally offered as
bhoga to appease the goddess Lakshmi at Jagannath Puri Temple on Niladri Bije, the last day of the
History: The Pahala rasgulla is thought to have its origins in Puri as the khira mohana, according to historians of Odisha. At the Jagannath Temple in Puri, it has historically been served as bhog to the goddess Lakshmi. The local myth claims that Laxmi becomes enraged when her husband Lord Jagannath leaves for a nine-day journey (the ratha yatra) without her permission. In order to stop his entourage from returning to the temple’s sanctum sanctorum, she locks Jai Vijay Dwar, one of the temple gates. Jagannath offers her rasgullas to comfort her. This ceremony, called Bachanika, is a component of the “Niladri Bije” (or “Arrival of the God”) celebration, which commemorates the gods’ return to the temple following the Ratha Yatra.
When Granted: Rasagola, a popular dessert of Odisha, has received the geographical indication tag from the
Registrar of Geographical Indication. An application was filed in the year 2018, by the Odisha Small
Industries Corporation Limited (OSIC Ltd.) and Utkal Mistanna Byabasayee Samiti on behalf of the
State of Odisha. Finally on 29th July 2019, the registrar granted the GI tag on ‘Odisha Rasagola’.
Legal Aspect: GI is defined under Article 22.1 of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)
agreement as “indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a member, or a
region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the
good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin”. Generally, a GI is recognized in the
“country of origin” in which the area referred by the GI tag is located. The registered proprietors or
authorized users of GI might also include an association of persons or statutory authorities. The
authorized users can restrict anyone to use GI tag on products from where it does not originate and
it is not from the designated location. Hence, GI ensures in comprehensiveness and effectiveness to
protect goods that has got GI tag.
Article 22 of the TRIPS Agreement defines a standard level of protection that includes all products as
GIs need to be protected so that public is not misled and to prevent unfair competition.
In India, the statute that regulates in this particular area is Geographical Indications (GI) of
Goods (Regulation and Protection) Act which was passed in the year 1999 in order to facilitate
registration and protection of intellectual property with respect to goods. The Act defined GI under
Section 1(e) as, “Geographical Indication in relation to goods, means an indication which identifies
such goods as agricultural goods, natural goods or manufactured goods as originating or
manufactured in the territory of a country or a region or locality in that territory, where a given
quality reputation or other characteristic of such good is essentially attributed to its geographical
origin and in case where such goods are manufactured goods, one of the activities of either the
production or of processing or preparation of the goods concerned takes place in such territory,
region on locality as the case may be”.
The registration was conferred to ‘Odisha Rasagola’ under Section 16(I) or of authorized Section
17(3)(c) of Geographical Indication of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act 1999. The GI number
612 has been registered for Odisha Small Industries Corporation Limited (OSIC Limited), a
government of Odisha undertaking and Utkal Mistanna Byabasayee Samiti, a traders’ organisation,
in the category of food products.
Section 9(f) of GI Act states that GIs that are determined to be generic names shall not be
registered as GI. The word “generic” in section 9 of the GI Act states that “generic names or
indications”, in relation to goods, means the name of a goods which, although relates to the place or
the region where the goods was originally produced or manufactured, has lost its original meaning
and has become the common name of such goods.
Uniqueness of Odisha Rassagolla:
There are certain features which makes Odisha Rasagola unique –
i) Method- Odisha Rasagola is a dessert which is made of chhena (cottage cheese) cooked
in sugar syrup and is very soft and juicy.
ii) Colour- Without adding external colour, various types intensely-coloured rasagolas are
made using principle of caramelisation of sugar with a very specific methods of
iii) Ancient- Reference of rasagola in Odisha was found in Odia (Dandi) Ramayana written
by Balaram Das in late 15th century BC.
Revenue Aspect: GI goods have potential revenue prospects which are as follows:
i) Economic growth: GI tag products help to increase economic growth. If a product
receives a geographical indication tag, it will help in building a good reputation among
the customers regarding the product and thereby helping to boost regional economic
ii) Increase income for local producers: Ensuring legal protection of GI tagged goods
increases the good reputation about the product among the consumers. Thus, the
geographical indication tag on goods helps to increase the income for local producers
and increase the employment prospects.
iii) Boosts exports: The primary purpose of the Geographical Indication Act is providing legal
protection to the Geographical Indicated product which will help to make a good
reputation for the product in international market as well. Hence, the Geographical
Indication of a product will help to increase export.
iv) Boosts tourism: The protection of Geographical Indication helps to build a good
reputation among the producers regarding the product. This will attract tourists from
other states as well as foreigners to visit that place. Thus, the GI tagged product boosts
Odisha has about 20,000 rasagola makers, mostly in unorganised sector, who prepare this delicious
dessert in variety of shapes, size and colours. The annual turnover from rasagola is estimated to be
over Rs 5,000 crore in Odisha.
Conclusion: The right of the geographical indication lies with the legitimate producers in the geographical area. They have been producing such products over a long period of time. Ensuring legal rights helps to increase the economic activities of that region and increase the income of local producers. In other ways, the right ensures quality which attracts more customers towards the product. The most important feature of GI is that the GI tag prevents the misuse of the Geographical Indicated product.
In case anyone misuses the GI tag, the producer has the legal right to charge against that person and save his reputation from being damaged.
The national institution framework will have a great influence to ensure the effectiveness of the
GI system for registration. The geographical indication right plays vital role in economic growth of
that region and as well as country. The geographical indication right helps to increase the value of
the product. It takes several years to scrutinize about the product before providing a G.I tag for a
product. The system of providing the G.I tag should be effective enough and the process to provide
GI should be made faster.
Sources: Following are the sources:
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