New Delhi: All fine wool is no longer Pashmina. Only yarn and products made from the Pashmina goat and in the Kashmir valley can now lay claim to the name.
The Geographical Indication Registry of India granted Geographical Indication (GI) status to Pashmina yarn on 12 September under the Geographical Indications Act.
A government official who did not want to be named confirmed that this happened last week.
A GI status, the same that is given to Scotch whisky, Darjeeling tea and Champagne, ensures that a name can only be used by produce from a particular geography.
Since products such as Darjeeling tea, Champagne, and Pashmina have a global market, a GI status ensures that imitators from other geographies cannot use the name.
Pashmina, a kind of cashmere, comes from the pashmina goat in Kashmir. Pashmina shawls and stoles are popular across the world and bring in revenue of Rs350-650 crore for Kashmiri artisans.
Pakistan had filed an objection to India’s award of GI status to Pashmina claiming that the fine wool is produced in various parts of that country.
Every country has its own GI registry. Before it awards a GI status, it calls for and reviews objections from other countries. It then decides to award or not award GI status. Once the GI status is awarded by a national registry, it is recognized around the world.
“A consultative committee set up for this purpose rejected the objections made by Pakistan,” said the official.
India’s GI registry also had to deal with applications from rival organizations in Kashmir.
The Crafts Development Institute (CDI), a Srinagar based autonomous body that comes under the ministry of textiles laid claims to GI status for Pashmina in 2005. Soon after, in 2006, the Kashmir Handmade Pashmina Promotion Trust or KHPPT filed another claim.
“But we were told that a proposal already exists, so we filed an objection and the case went on for two years,” said Aniruddha Mookerjee, senior director, Wildlife Trust of India or WTI which works with KHPPT. WTI started working with the Pashmina industry in 2000-01, to wean off artisans and weavers involved in the Shahtoosh trade, which had resulted in the near destruction of the Chiru antelope.
On 25 August, CDI, KHPPD and Tahafuz (a body of all Kashmiri artisans, which already controls a few GIs) reached an agreement and decided that the GI for Pashmina be granted to Tahafuz.
“Among the apprehensions were that the original proposal only recognized the final product and not the yarn and also that it recognized machine-made Pashmina, whereas the original shawl is hand made from scratch,” said Mookerjee.
Another contention was that the proposal demarcated the whole state as the region for the GI whereas it is only made in the Kashmir valley.
Both concerns have been addressed in the GI which is valid for ten years and can be renewed after this.
“It will be for the better of the region and people and Pashmina, as there are lakhs of fakes in the market. Now there is exclusivity attached to them,” said Dahlia Sen Oberoi, an Intellectual Property lawyer.
The holders of the GI are now preparing to make the most of it
“Just like Burgundy wine, each product will have a serial number to ensure authorization. We do expect certified products to command a much higher price,” added Mookerjee.
Asit Ranjan Mishra contributed to this story.