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Expert poser on GI tag for ‘Hyderabadi Haleem'

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A cook prepares Haleem in Panjagutta in Hyderabad.
A cook prepares Haleem in Panjagutta in Hyderabad.

Vinson Kurian

Thiruvananthapuram, Sept. 5

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) experts are amused at the grant of geographical indication (GI) tag to ‘Hyderabadi Haleem' after a similar appellation to ‘Tirupathi laddu' had soured their palates not too long ago.

Haleem is a delicacy associated with the Ramzan period, and will now be called ‘Hyderabadi Haleem.'

Prescribed standards

Mr P.H. Kurian, Controller-General of Patents, Designs, Trademarks and Registrar of Indications, gave away the certificate to the claimants at Hyderabad on Saturday.

The certificate does not bar anyone from preparing Haleem, but they cannot market it as Hyderabadi Haleem, Mr Kurian said.

Haleem makers would now have to follow prescribed standards in its preparation and must mention the GI mark on the package. They are also mandated to apply for renewal of the certificate after 10 years.

The tag fails to convince, Mr R.S. Praveen Raj, a scientist with the National Institute for Interdisciplinary Science and Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, and a former examiner of patents and designs at Indian Patent Office, Chennai, said.

The peculiarity of the delicacy is only in the method of preparation. There is nothing to suggest that quality will change if it is made in another part of the world. “People prefer to consume it because of its taste and not because of the appellation indicating origin,” Mr Raj told Business Line.

According to Section 2(1)(e) of the GI Act, Geographical Indication in relation to goods, means an indication which identifies such goods as originating, or manufactured in the territory of a country, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of such goods is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.

‘Goods' means any agricultural, natural or manufactured goods or any goods of handicraft or of industry, and includes food stuff. Food stuff is covered, but only if it answers to any of the following description — agricultural goods, natural goods, manufactured goods, goods of handicraft or goods of industry. “To the best of my understanding, Hyderabadi Haleem cannot be considered as a manufactured good or a handicraft or industry product. This is also true in the case of Tirupathi laddu,” Mr Raj said.

Neither is the quality, reputation or other characteristic of the stuff essentially attributable to Hyderabad — which the consumer wants to make doubly sure before committing himself.

Would the consumer feel cheated if were to know that the stuff was not manufactured in Hyderabad? Or, could anybody point to a factory or industrial site where Hyderabadi Haleem is manufactured as part of production, processing or preparation? “This is exactly why GI on Darjeeling Tea may hold but that on Tirupathi Laddu or Hyderabadi Haleem would not,” Mr Raj said.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated September 6, 2010)
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