New initiatives such as PM Vishwakarma Kaushal Samman (PM-VIKAS), the Bharat Shared Repository of Inscriptions (Bharat SHRI) and Unity Mall will accelerate the growth of Geographical Indication (GI), particularly agricultural products, in the country, experts said.

Presenting Budget, the Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said for the first time a package of assistance has been conceptualised for traditional artisans and craftspeople, which will enable them to improve the quality, scale and reach of their products, integrating them with the MSME value chain.

An allocation of ₹540 crore has been made for the PM-VIKAS scheme. The components of PM-VIKAS will include not only financial support but also access to advanced skill training, knowledge of modern digital techniques and efficient green technologies, brand promotion, linkage with local and global markets, digital payments, and social security. This will greatly benefit the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs, women and people belonging to the weaker sections, Sitharaman said in the Budget speech.

Trade policy and GI expert S Chandrasekaran said initiatives like PM-VIKAS will accelerate the growth of GI. “The formation of reputation, provided in the concept of Geographical Indication, was based on certain parameters that existed then. The collective wisdom of our forefathers prior to print media is the real historic reputation. The shorter reputation imposed by the western approach heightens bias against our traditional practices, which is based on human evolution and civilisation. Material evidence such as paper (printing) has history of a few hundred years.

‘Inevitable to redefine’

“The materials written on palm leaves and stone inscriptions have longer existence, spanning several thousand years. For total, integrated, balanced understanding of reputation in Geographical Indication, it is inevitable to redefine the current version of Euro-centric reputation, which is devoid of a sense of proportion and initiate a new phase of historical investigation that takes for its canvas the entire globe. The Bharat Shared Repository of Inscriptions (Bharat SHRI) would bring out such knowledge to derive a neutral approach in Geographical Indication, instead of its present Europeanization or Western-based system,” he said.

“Preserving and promoting our cultural identity is vital for an alternative thought process to Western liberalism. A corpus for promoting and assisting smaller and medium scale Geographical Indications and traditional products through PM-VIKAS and Unity Mall will revitalise and integrate the value chain. These schemes will encourage and sustain the craftmanship and skills to pass on to the next generation,” Chandrasekaran said.

Bharat SHRI will be set up in a digital epigraphy museum, with the digitisation of one lakh ancient inscriptions in the first stage. At the same time, States will be encouraged to set up a Unity Mall in their capital or most prominent tourism centre or the financial capital for the promotion and sale of their own ODOPs (one district, one product), GI products and other handicraft products, Sitharaman said.