India’s global brand recall and attributes of multi-cultural ethos, ethical diversity and authenticity are potential turbochargers for the country’s economy. One channel through which these attributes can be brought out are Geographical Indications or GI tags.

With the emphasis on climate change and sustainability, these products can be ready revenue generators.


1. Geographical Indication (GI) is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin. In order to function as GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place.

2. It is used to identify agricultural, natural or manufactured goods. The manufactured goods should be produced or processed or prepared in that territory.

3. Some of its examples are Kullu shawl, Darjeeling tea, Champagne (France) etc.

4. In India, GI tag is governed by Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and protection) Act, 1999. It came into force in 2003.

5. It is issued by the Geographical Indications Registry (Chennai).

6. Darjeeling tea- first product in India to be accorded with GI tag in 2004-05.


1. GI protection has wider positive benefits, especially for local communities. It encourages the preservation of biodiversity, local know-how and natural resources and this is where India can do well.

2. It will convert talent into entrepreneurship with gig workers, and create a “passion economy” that is, a new way for individuals to monetise their skills and scale their business exponentially.

3. Several benefits flow from a strong GI ecosystem, which can be a wellspring of economic and soft power. It will automatically resolve the three fraught India issues of poor pay for talent, low female participation in the labour force and urban migration.

4. The labour intensive nature of GI offers the best solution to boosting the employment-to-population ratio in India, an abysmal 43% compared with 55% global average.

Monetising artisanal work done at home will increase India’s low female labour force participation rate, which at 21% in 2019 was half the 47% global average.

5. The hyper-localised nature of GI offers solutions to reverse urban migration and conserve India’s ancient crafts, food and culture.

A rejuvenation of MSMEs which account for 31% of India’s GDP and 45% of exports will follow.

An estimated 55.80 million MSMEs employ close to 130 million people; of this, 14% are women-led enterprises and 59.5% are rural.

Another revenue earner, GI tourism, is typically a by-product by a strong GI ecosystem.


1. Lack of awareness among the stakeholders of GIs.

2. False use of GI by unauthorised parties is detrimental to consumers and legitimate producers.

3. Other challenges faced by goods applying for GI status are origin of the goods for identifying geographical territory, Registration of GIs, Monitoring and controlling specified processes and protection of GIs from enforcement of Intellectual Property Rights.


1. GI businesses are micro, it is necessary to address the challenges of capacity-building, forming market linkages, formal or easy access to credit, research and development, product innovation and competitiveness in both domestic and international markets.

2. There is need to shift to digital platforms. There is the vexed issue of middlemen, who run system. With the shift to digital platforms, the distribution margins of these mandi agents or gate keepers must be competitive. So they do not act as countervailing agents by getting into similar businesses or product lines which will erode GI producer incomes.

3. Local GI cooperative bodies or associations should be established. It can be nationally managed by a GI board under the auspices of the Department for the Promotion of Industry and International Trade (DPIIT), the Ministry of Commerce department which should be tasked with developing this new sector.

4. A required skill for GI producers is digital literacy. This should be a priority agenda for stakeholders like the DPIIT and NGOs.

It is an opportunity for India to re-define the future of work using automation, artificial intelligence and technology while simultaneously enhancing and adorning the country’s talented local work force.


The Indian GI economy can be a platform for India to showcase to the world a model for social entrepreneurship, ethical capitalism, de-urbanization  and bringing women to the workforce, on the back of a robust digital system.

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