युक्ती हीने विचारे तु धर्महानि प्रजायते

Social ASSET Management for Resources of Indigenous People’s Demographic Development for Heritage of India (SAMRIDDHI- Vocal for Local)

The workshop on SAMRIDDHI- Vocal for Local was a collaborative effort of the Centre for Regulatory Studies, Governance and Public Policy (CRSGPP) and the DPIIT IPR Chair of the West Bengal University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata (WBNUJS). Organized on 17th August, 2023, under the flagship of the National GI Mission, the workshop was blessed with eminent speakers from varied fields of work along with our Hon’ble Vice Chancellor, Prof Dr Nirmal Kanti Chakrabarti, Mr. Raja Chakraborty, Registrar, WBNUJS, and Dr. Pinaki Ghosh, IPR Chair Professor, DPIIT IPR Chair, with a common aim towards developing GI awareness among local producers thereby promoting traditional knowledge to see the light of the day.
Professor Dev S. Gangjee, Professor of Intellectual Property Law, Director, Oxford IP Research Centre, University of Oxford being the keynote speaker of the event, helped the audience delve into the scenario of GI products in the European Union, focusing majorly on the possible adaption EU has made towards a sustainable future for the same. Highlighting on the aspect that the basic recognition of geographical indication is lacking majorly among the population there, Professor Gangjee explored the layers in a GI product settling on the statement that “GI is not a story of no change at all”. While he pointed out that many different inventions are involved in making a GI product, the workshop beamed with delight when it came to know that GI products are sold at double the price of a general product. This 2:1 ratio although appears positive, falls flat when Professor Gangjee talked about the reality. Higher cost of product not necessarily reflects producers benefit when it comes to GI products. On a lighter note, he also focused on a robust enforcement mechanism, making rooms for environmentally sustainable move by GI, regulating GI products thereby making people worthwhile to invest in the structure.
It was interesting when Professor Gangjee related climate change with traditional knowledge and adaptation by indigenous communities. The question he posed to the audience was “how do you reconcile tradition with change”. He supported his answer with the impact climate change is having on wine production. The impact results in change in the taste of wine for the alcohol level spikes owing to early ripening of grapes. Relating the previous para with the current ones made the workshop believe that GI is never static and therefore the incremental evolution it brings about has to be safeguarded. As Professor Gangjee had said “GI is more like trademark as it protects brand value of the product”, he concluded his pragmatic speech by stating that till the time government produces GI, the producers won’t get noticeable benefit from the latter. Instead, producers should play the fulcrum role in getting their products GI recognised on the basis of the quality, so that the concept of GI does not remain paper-based.
Followed by this, Dr. S. N. Ghosh, Senior Research Officer West Bengal Biodiversity Board, Government of West Bengal, spoke about the role of the Biodiversity Board in facilitating and safeguarding access to traditional knowledge. Referring to the concept of Biodiversity Management Group, a statutory establishment under the Biological Diversity Act, 2002, Dr. Ghosh threw light on documentation of traditional variety of crops such as rice thereby registering farmer’s variety. This documentation will help the farmers gain ownership on their variety which are traditionally cultivating. Dr. Ghosh also brought People Biodiversity Register into discussion as the same helps in recording traditional knowledge and practices which protects traditional knowledge of communities. Digitalisation of documentation of traditional knowledge was the concluding remarking of Dr. Ghosh, which he proposed to be responsible for increased accessibility among public backed by code for avoiding authorized access and misuse in the long-run.
“From cooperation we can get development” were the words of Mr. Jayanta Kumar Aikat, I.A.S., Commissioner, FPI&H Department, Director, Food Processing Industries and Director Horticulture (Technical), Government of West Bengal who described SAMRIDDHI as an expansion of development practices. Highlighting the issue of division of profit among stakeholders, middlemen and producers of GI products, Mr. Jayanta gave insight to his experiences in the Handloom industry. He concluded with the hope that traditional artisans will have a good place in the market.
Prof. Somen Sahu, Professor & Head of Fishery Economics and Statistics, West Bengal University of Animal & Fishery, made a statistical approach towards SAMRIDDHI-Vocal for Local. He discussed how price of the GI products vary from one place to another using the concept of spatial variation. Prof Sahu described GI as the vector of temporal, economic, statistical, social and managerial aspects thereby highlighting the relevance GI tag carries with it.
Need for sensitization of awareness surrounding GI was discussed by Dipankar Dasgupta. While stating that producers in general lacks skills in building necessary cooperation, he applauded the West Bengal University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata for playing a positive role in increasing registration of GI. On similar grounds, former IG of the West Bengal state police, Pankaj Dutta also considered the University to pioneer of GI. With such encouragement, the workshop warmly welcomed Partha Chakraborty, Vice President, Copyright Society, who considered lack of awareness to be a graver concern in comparison to registration of GI. Considering the significance of the role of both the local population and the administrative wings of the state governments, Mr Chakraborty found problem sharing by the producers a positive step towards building GI awareness which will contribute to economic growth, social upliftment and increased GDP of the nation as a whole.
As the workshop neared to the end, Dr. Pinaki Ghosh, IPR Chair Professor, DPIIT IPR Chair, voiced for “Local to Global” from “Vocal to Local”, encouraging the attendees of the workshop to realise the value they are adding to the society. The range of speakers that the workshop witnessed alongside the discussion that took place with the fundamental highlight upon traditional knowledge and importance the indigenous people are eligible to receive, help us conclude that the workshop was indeed fruitful.
Dr. Jayanta Ghosh, Head and Research Fellow, CRSGPP, WBNUJS delivered the vote of thanks at the end of the workshop.
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