Balaramapuram Sarees receive GI tag
The prestigious Balaramapuram Sarees has become the first handloom product in Kerala to receive the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) protection through Geographical Indications Act (GI Act). This is the 35th textile product in the country to receive the most sought-after registration under the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act 1999 from the Chennai based Geographical Indications Registry of the Government of India.
Till the end of March 2010, a total of 120 products have been registered under the GI Act, which include agricultural products, handicrafts, manufactured products and textiles. The application for registration of Balaramapuram Sarees and Fine Cotton Fabrics was filed by Shri. P.R. Luis, Director, Handlooms and Textiles, Government of Kerala, on behalf of the stakeholders of the industry. Textiles Committee, under the Union Textile Ministry, extended technical support to the Kerala Government in this endeavor.
Textiles Committee in association with the UNCTAD-India (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development) has initiated the preliminary activities like sensitizing the stakeholders about the need and importance of registering the product in the globalised era. The detailed study and documentation of the product was completed under the guidance of Dr. P. Nayak, Director, by the Field Officers of Textiles Committee, Shri. S. Krishna Kumar and Shri. C. Jeyaprakas.
Balaramapuram in Thiruvananthapuram district of Kerala is one of the most historically important places for weaving of fine cotton sarees and fabrics in India. The weaving activities in this cluster are initiated in the beginning of the nineteenth century during the reign of the Maharaja of Travancore, His Highness Maharaja Balarama Varma. It was his efforts that brought weaving families from Tamilnadu and settled them in separate streets in Balaramapuram. He provided initial financial assistance to these weavers to start business.
The Balaramapuram handloom sarees are well known for its simplicity, exquisite hand-woven designs and beauty. The traditional handloom Grey sarees are made out of the finest cotton yarn with intricate and unique designs of zari or dyed yarn. Balaramapuram is also famous for its fine cotton Dhothis and traditional Neriyathu and the Set Mundu.
The Geographical Indication (GI) tag is granted only to those goods that draw specific qualities and uniqueness and are essentially originated or produced in a defined geographical locality and region. The purpose of GI registration is to protect the sarees and fabrics from commercial invasions by unauthorised parties and Multi National Companies, thereby promoting the economic prosperity of the producers of goods in a geographical area.
This protection will help the producers to contain infringement of their products by legal means. This registration secures the interests of the producers and also protects the consumers from deception. Further, the GI tag secures consumers from confusion of counterfeits and artisans from undue competition. While patents and copyrights belong to individuals, the GI is a collective right of the community protected either by their group or state, helping art and artisans to survive.
Under legal protection, the GI tag facilitates action in the case of any violation of its exclusive rights by unscrupulous parties and manufacturers. The GI tag aims at promoting the economic prosperity of producers of goods in a geographical area.