What is Geographical Indication (GI) and GI Pashmina ?
GI stands for geographical indication. As per WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization), "A 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 a GI, a sign must identify a product as originating in a given place. In addition, the qualities, characteristics or reputation of the product should be essentially due to the place of origin. Since the qualities depend on the geographical place of production, there is a clear link between the product and its original place of production."
GI mark ensures that only registered authorized people from a specific geographic area are authorized to use the product name as long as they also ensure that the product meets the required characteristics and qualities. The first product to get GI tag in India was Darjeeling Tea.
Geographical indications are already being used worldwide on food products e.g. Bordeaux Wine, Basmati Rice as well as on handicrafts e.g. Persian Carpets, Orissa Ikat etc.
GI mark ensures that the interests of both the buyers as well as the product makers are taken into consideration. And the same holds true for Kashmiri Pashmina. In 2008, Indian Central Government declared that Kashmiri artisans would have Intellectual Property rights on Kashmiri Pashmina, sealed and protected with the GI mark.
In the case of Kashmiri Pashmina, GI mark acts as a certification that the product is made with age old techniques - it's made from handspun yarn, is handwoven on traditional wooden handloom and made with finest Pashmina wool from Ladakh(with fibre count less than 16 microns). Currently Pashmina products are tested by Craft Development Institute in Srinagar (Kashmir) in a Government owned laboratory. Only after proper testing the GI mark is sealed on the product.