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Exclusive tags to give identity to Bengal saris

New Delhi: Granting of exclusive tags by the Centre to certain varieties of handloom saris woven in Bengal, including Hooghly’s ‘Dhaniakhali’, Nadia’s ‘Shantipuri’, Bankura’s ‘Baluchari’ and ‘Kantha Stitch’, will ultimately bring smiles to the faces of hundreds of weavers, who have long been deprived of remunerative prices for their skills.

This has also added a new feather to the cap of the state government with chief minister Mamata Banerjee herself taking up the issue at the central level.

The chief minister had written to the union textile and agriculture ministry requesting that those renowned varieties of saris be brought under the Geographical Indication of Goods (Protection and Registration) Act (GI Act) to give them an exclusive tag for being unique to the places they are woven in.

Though the ‘Dhaniakhali’ sari is the chief minister’s most favourite wear, the weavers engaged in this trade in Hooghly district, are highly underpaid. At least three days of hard labour are put in to make one ‘Dhaniakhali’ sari, but a weaver gets only Rs 80 to 100 for his produce.

Hence, around 600 to 700 families, involved in this sari-making industry, continue to remain in dire straits for the past three to four decades. As a consequence, the young generation of those families is gradually migrating to Maharashtra and Gujarat for ‘safe and secure’ occupations. The other sari-making industries like ‘Tashar’, ‘Shantipuri’, ‘Baluchari’ and ‘Kantha Stitch’ are also facing the similar crisis.

It takes at least four days to make a ‘Tashar’ sari and in return a weaver gets only Rs. 200 to Rs 250. The cost of their four days’ toil to make one ‘Kantha Stitch’ sari is only Rs 250 and weaving a ‘Baluchari’ sari over a span of three to four days would fetch only Rs. 200. 

Henceforth, weavers who make such wonderful varieties of saris will start getting the right price and recognition for their produce, of which they were being deprived. After the aforementioned saris are allotted their individual logos, they will be accepted nationally and internationally.

This will prevent duplication as none else can weave a Dhaniakhali’ sari anywhere in the country, save and except at its place of origin and also cannot use the same tag for any other variety of sari. Implementation of GI Act for those varieties of saris would help the centre to promote those brands globally.

Notably, the Darjeeling tea was brought under this GI Act in 2003. Once a geographical indicator is awarded for a definite brand, only the produce of a particular area can be sold using its generic name. Hence, now it is illegal to sell any other brew as Darjeeling tea across the country.

(Picture Courtesy: weindiacraft.weebly.com)

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