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The Geographical Indications Act recently completed 20 years of its enactment. In the last 20 years the Act has facilitated ther registration of more than 475 products as Geographical Indications (GIs). GI registrations are spurred on by narratives of preservation of cultural heritage, identity of producers and impact on social cohesion, economic development through increase in trade and export promotion amongst others. How do these narratives emerge and how are they supported? For illustration, Ms. Devanshi used the example of Darjeeling tea and the rationales behind protecting it as a GI. These rationales included protecting the cultural pride of the product, provide incentives for production and improving the quality of the product and to comply with the TRIPS Agreement.

Can GI law respond to the challenging task of fulfilling these rationales? What would an effective legal response look like? Ms. Devanshi addressed these questions in an interactive manner, encouraging reflection on domestic rationales of GI protection and the need for coherence between these rationales, the law and the governance of GIs. She shared her own experience of the case study on Chanderi sarees in India and Rooibos tea in South Africa. The focus of the session was on the pre-registration phase. It was also highlighted in the presentation that the producer body, needs to be given representation as they are the very people who should be protected. It was also suggested that there is a need for reformation in the current way that GI is protected and the role played by the government agencies in scrutinising the applications.

Devanshi Saxena is a doctoral researcher and teaching assistant, affiliated with the Government & Law and the Law & Development Research Groups at the University of Antwerp, Belgium. She is a visiting researcher at the CIIPC, Delhi from 15th June to 31st October 2023. In her PhD research, Devanshi is investigating the potential of geographical indications as a legal tool for sustainable development with a focus on developing countries. She is adopting a critical decolonial approach to the discussions on sustainable development through geographical indications and is in general interested in the intersection between sustainability, development and intellectual property.

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