Bangladesh is planning to contest India’s GI (Geographical Indication) registration of Jamdani sarees, Fazli mangoes and Nakshi Kantha (a kind of hand-stitch on old fabric).

“We recently got to know that India has registered these items as its own. We are drafting a law in this regard (there is no GI law in Bangladesh), after which we will contest India’s claim,” said Tarana Halim, a lawyer and Awami League MP, who is visiting India as part of a Parliamentary delegation.

Halim said India had registered Uppada Jamdani saree as originating from Andhra Pradesh, the Fazli mango from Malda in West Bengal and Nakshi Kantha also from West Bengal.

“India stands to get a premium price for these products whereas these are originally from Bangladesh,” said Halim, who is involved in drafting the law concerned.

GI is a name or sign to certify a product’s niche qualities, traditional methods of production or its origin in a specific geographical region. Registration fetches a particular country premium prices in the global market.

Halim said she had researched and found that around 300 A.D, Kautilya had referred to Jamdani sarees in his book Artha Shastra as being made in Pundra (now Bangladesh).

“Arab, Chinese and Italian traders had also given detailed accounts of this fabric coming from what is now Bangladesh,” she said, and added the Uppadda Jamdani was just a special type of saree.

On Fazli mango, Halim said it was best known as a product of Rajshahi in Bangladesh and said Rabindra Nath Tagore has referred to it in one of his poems Tagore’s grandfather was a landlord in Shahzadpur in Rajshahi and he is known to have frequently stayed there and written many verses.

Teesta waters

“Not signing the Teesta water agreement in September 2011 was a huge embarrassment for the Bangladesh Government and for India,” senior Awami League leader, Tofail Ahmed, said.

He urged India to revisit the Teesta treaty as well as the land boundary agreement, but with a time-frame.

“We value our friendly relations with India, “which got affected by internal conflict” within the UPA at that time, he added.

In September 2011, the Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, had to refrain from signing the Teesta agreement, as West Bengal Chief Minister, then a UPA ally, refused to accompany him to Dhaka as she felt she had been 'left out' when the crucial agreement was being finalised by the Centre.

(This article was published on November 30, 2012)
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