Tuesday 18 January 2022

An Open Letter To NABARD Regarding Odisha GIs



Jaya Shree Jagannatha

Jaya Shree Baladevjew

Ref: Misinformation and Misrepresentation in the Odisha GI Applications Supported by NABARD

Regarding: the incorrect details and wrong information provided in our Odisha Geographical Indication (GI) applications that have been filed with the support of NABARD recently. 

It is a huge disappointment to find that many Odisha GI applications supported by NABARD have simply been filed hurriedly with wrong information and incorrect technical details and specifications.

- Our state name and GI product names are also not properly spelled in the applications.

- The number of producers/artisans are far higher/lower than what has been specified and filed. 

- The real producer groups have not been represented as Applicants and "Registered Proprietors"; rather chosen Applicants are non-related people and organizations, who were/are not involved/working with the products.

How can the present applicants claim to even be bothered about “protecting” our producer groups and our community's and state’s rights, when they do not even think of taking extra care to share the correct information in the GI applications? They have not even given due respect to our state by even spelling "Odisha" correctly!

Shouldn’t a proper and inclusive study with visits to geographical areas and investigative research first be done before GI filing? 

We had shared our concerns immediately after knowing about the filing of these GI applications last year, and our views were shared in this Sakala newspaper news-report published on 4th January 2022.

This was about your supported GI applications like "Kendrapara Rasabali", and "Odisha Talpatra Chitra Craft" etc. filed in November-December 2021.
However, your subsequent supported-applications - the two GI applications filed last week from Odisha- “Koraput Kalajeera Rice” and “Nabarangpur Lac Craft”- have repeated the same mistakes and misrepresentation by submitting wrong and misleading details. 
Like your other applications, these applications too have incorrect product names and specifications. 
Does it not show your callous attitude and intention just to file the GI applications for the 'quantity' and credit! 
In the race for quantity, should the quality be compromised?

How many knew/know that each and every document sent to the GI Registry is uploaded online? Whatever we write in the application is considered correct and representative of our state. 
Please note- 
Thus, we have been constantly stressing about the need for thorough ground-work and research, and proper representation and due diligence and respect and inclusion with importance accorded to the quality of the GI applications.

We request you to not take your applications with misrepresentation and wrong producer representatives further e.g. for-
Nabarangpur Lac Craft - Nabrangpur District Social Welfare Action Group (NDSWAG) Represented by Mr. Bibhu Bramha
Odisha Talpatra Chitra Craft - 1. Kalabhaskar Producer Company Limited Represented by Shri. Dillip Kumar Nayak and 2. Nigam Institute for Governing Activities of Mass Represented by Shri. Suresh Kumar Tripathi

At least one of the GI applicants in one of your applications is a fraud person running a fake organization, who has stolen the works of the producers, and owes them money. This proves the malafide intention and the grave issues the producers will face if such people/organizations get registered as GI "Registered Proprietors."

We understand that Odisha is not the only state for which NABARD has filed applications recently.
While we are happy to see the sudden interest of NABARD, it pains us to see the quality of GI applications being filed.
In May 2020, this writer's ebook “Geographical Indications of Odisha” was published that informed and enthused many producers and organizations including NABARD. The ideas and information presented created GI awareness and generated interest in your officials for action. We have personally included some NABARD officials in our GI platforms and shared information regarding the potential products like "Koraput Kalajeera Rice", "Kendrapara Rasabali" etc.

We have also been uniting stakeholders and working with producer groups like "Kendrapara Rasabali”, "Nabarangpur Lakha" etc. among others. It may be noted that we have been sensitising many groups about the requirements for GI filing. Just like UMBS had been formed for Rasagola, “Kendrapara Rasabali Mistanna Nirmata Sangha” was formed for Rasabali. Rasabali testing was also facilitated by communicating with FSO- Food Safety Odisha. 

However, it was terrible to see that after all the initial ground-work had been done by us, NABARD stepped in to take away documents, and to do the filing without even informing the producers and the original initiators! A lot of documents had already been collected for products like Rasabali, Terracotta, Lac works etc. and applications would have been filed with the involvement of our genuine producer groups. However, you have supported filing of applications with wrong details secretly on behalf of the unfit/unworthy/unbothered/fake, without even consulting with the proponents and genuine stakeholders. Major work has already been done by respective real local producer groups, who were in the process of filing applications with correct information. 

Who knows the local products best? The producer groups and the community. 

How many real producer groups and local stakeholders has NABARD got in touch with?

There is no doubt that the above-mentioned attitude to steal, file hurriedly, and misrepresent will set poor examples and is a disservice to the invaluable treasures of Odisha, India. 
GIs are the "invaluable treasures of incredible India".
No individual or organization has the right to hurt the sentiments of our community, and misrepresent/misinform and play with the sanctity of our traditional local products.

We do not expect such irresponsible filing, intellectual theft and moral degradation, and poor representation and DISSERVICE to our products, state and nation in the future.

Kindly take care by including the GENUINE producers and LOCAL experts, and transparently ensure filing of CORRECT information and FAIR representation, and submission of well-researched and documented TRUSTWORTHY applications. 

A GI application ought to be a rightful representation of the product, community, state, and nation.
GIs are our pride and the applications must be treated as sacrosanct and must reflect high probity and standards

It is good to take initiatives.
But, initiatives must be good and do good.

"Chaka Akhi Sabu Dekhuchi" - The round eyes (of Shree Jagannatha Mahaprabhu) watch everything.

Right from initiating "Rasagola Dibasa" in 2015 to facilitating "Odisha Rasagola" and other Odisha GIs, this writer has stood up for the pride of our state and strives to ensure protection and proper representation of our community and state's interests. Few were bothered about filing Odisha GI applications and such representation, and no GI applications from Odisha were filed from 2011-2017. 
While this writer is happy for ushering in the GI awareness and revolution in our Odisha state, there is responsibility and accountability to share concerns as many people and organizations like NABARD have been involved with GI work after this writer's initiatives viz. awareness sessions, advocacy and activism, GI ebook etc. 

This writer could have chosen to stay quiet and not taken the pains to share what is wrong. But, by doing so, this writer would have joined the vast majority, who do not know, and cannot or do not raise voice against injustice. Despite knowing if one does not express or expose, it means one accepts and is okay with the misrepresentation and misinformation. That means one is allowing and encouraging such unjust and wrong acts to continue.
This writer and our producer community has been deeply pained and appalled to see the apathy, vested interests and intention, incorrect, unethical and unfair GI representation and blatant disregard and disrespect. The real producers do not want fake people to represent them.

This writer has invested her own time and effort to write this letter as she cares to share her views as an independent researcher and voluntary self-appointed representative on behalf of our community and our state and nation.

Bande Utkala Janani
Vande Mataram

Dr. Anita Sabat
A proud daughter of Odisha and Odisha GI facilitator

The above letter has already been emailed to NABARD.

This was the first open letter to the Odisha state Govt. after which the Odisha Rasagola GI application was filed:

1 comment:

  1. Excellent letter. Thanks for taking up this worthy cause.


Your words mean a lot to me.

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