Staff Correspondent: Jamdani Sari of Bangladesh, with indigenous craftsmanship and traditional weaving, has been a flagship Bangladeshi handicraft for a long period due to its special characteristics, quality and reputation. However, it is now well-known that India has registered Jamdani Sari as their own. This move by our neighboring country has resulted in deep concerns among Bangladeshi people, particularly to those who have been associated with the industry.
Bangladesh government, after much hue and cry, has enacted Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 2013 to protect and promote our potential food products, agricultural products and handicrafts under the umbrella of geographical indications. It is worthwhile to mention that enacting the GI law is certainly a step forward to protect Bangladeshi GIs; however, Bangladesh government has to take some additional initiatives to preserve our national interests. In this writing, an attempt would be made to explain why Bangladesh should win the title of Jamdani under the geographical indication law.
Article 22.1 of the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) explains geographical indications (GIs) as “indications which identify a good as originating in the territory of a member, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristic of the good is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.” Therefore, TRIPS has put forwarded the basis of GI protection based on the quality and characteristics of goods with regard to their origin.
In this respect, historical exploration would show that Jamdani has its roots in different areas of Bengal that currently comprise of the Dhaka district. It is well documented in Banglapedia, a national encyclopedia of Bangladesh, that during Mughal rule, there were handlooms in almost all villages in Dhaka district. Dhaka, Sonargaon, Dhamrai, Titabari, Jangalbari and Bajitpur were famous places for making superior quality Jamdani.
Thus, Bangladesh has valid claims over Jamdani from a historical perspective. In addition, 8th Unesco Conference of the “Intergovernmental Committee for Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage” held at Azerbaijan in 2013 has endorsed the historical link of Jamdani to Bangladesh. It has declared Jamdani handicraft as “sole tradition” and “intangible cultural heritage” of Bangladesh.
As far as quality and reputation are concerned, Bangladeshi Jamdani Sari is of higher quality and greater brand value than its Indian counterpart which originates from Uppada, a small village of Andhra Pradesh in India. The issues pertaining to quality and reputation of Bangladeshi Jamdani (also known as Dhakai Jamdani) are well-known not only in Bangladeshi markets but also in different Indian markets.
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