In a significant stride towards preserving and promoting the rich cultural and natural heritage of West Bengal, the state has successfully acquired Geographical Indication (GI) tags for several distinctive products. The move comes as part of the National GI Drive Mission, with West Bengal’s diverse offerings now recognized for their unique geographical and cultural significance.
The recently awarded GI tags include recognition for Sundarban honey, Black Nunia rice from Jalpaiguri district, and Tangail, Gorod, and Kadiyal sarees. These tags not only bestow exclusive rights to the respective regions but also serve as a mark of authenticity, protecting the cultural and economic interests associated with these products.
The West Bengal Forest Development Corporation Limited (WBFDCL) played a pivotal role in obtaining the GI tag for Sundarban honey. Facing stiff competition from a Pune-based entity, WBFDCL emerged victorious, showcasing the authenticity of the honey collected by the ‘Mouli’ community from the Sunderban forest. The honey is processed and marketed under the brand name Mouban, contributing to the livelihoods of local communities.
Black Nunia rice, often referred to as the Prince of Rice, hails from the Jalpaiguri district and is recognized as an indigenous variety. Meanwhile, Tangail, Gorod, and Kadiyal sarees, which are handwoven and produced in specific regions of West Bengal, have also received the coveted GI tags, emphasizing their unique craftsmanship and cultural significance.
The Central Government has uploaded the details of these products on the designated portal, further solidifying their status as exclusive to West Bengal. This recognition not only safeguards traditional knowledge and skills but also opens up avenues for economic growth through the promotion of these products on a national and global scale.
West Bengal is not the only state reaping the benefits of the GI Drive Mission. Across the country, a total of 17 products from states such as Odisha, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal, and Jammu and Kashmir have been honored with the Geographical Indication tag. This diverse array of products includes Lanjia paintings, Dongaria Kondh shawls, Khajuri Guda, Wancho Wooden Craft, and various others, showcasing the rich cultural tapestry of India.
For instance, the Lanjia Saura paintings, reflecting a style of wall mural art with spiritual importance, are integral to the identity of the Lanjia Sauras, who are dedicated to preserving their cultural heritage. Similarly, the Dongaria Kondh shawls tell a story of ancient traditions and biodiversity, with each shawl reflecting the beliefs and artistry of this hill tribe.
Odisha’s Khajuri Guda, a natural sweetener derived from palm juice, and Arunachal Pradesh’s Wancho Wooden Craft, passed down through generations, are also among the honored products. These tags not only recognize the uniqueness of these products but also contribute to the conservation of traditional practices and sustainable livelihoods.
The Geographical Indications Registry in Chennai has also granted tags to three distinct sarees from West Bengal – the Tangail Saree, Garad Saree, and Korial Saree. Additionally, Odisha’s Dhenkanal Magji, Similipal Kai Chutney, and Nayagarh Kanteimundi Brinjal have received GI tags, along with other products like West Bengal’s Kalonunia Rice, Gujarat’s Kachchhi Kharek, Jammu and Kashmir’s Ramban Anardana, Koraput Kalajeera Rice, and Arunachal Pradesh’s Adi Kekir (Ginger).
The recognition of these products through GI tags not only preserves the unique cultural identity of each region but also opens up new avenues for economic development through increased market visibility and authenticity. As these products gain national and international acclaim, they become ambassadors of India’s rich cultural diversity and heritage.