Saturday 25 November 2017

Is GI Working in Indian Traditional Textiles ?

In a thought provoking and I would say "disruptive" paper, author Aarti Kawlra, makes some important points citing Kanchipuram Sarees. I have experienced the same while buying sarees for my company.

GI has worked in both ways. On one hand, it has provided some standard under which the quality of a particular nomenclature of textile can be evaluated. On the other, it has given rise to a whole bunch of manufacturers, who have subverted the spirit of GI.

The author has argued that GI in Indian context is arguably useful as it is a highly segmented market and manufacturers have to make a balance between the quality and saleability and thus their sustainability.

The author says that it is the way in British Rule, where the "traditional" fabrics were fixed to a particular area.

The fact that material, processes and place are fixed means to disparage innovations and imitations as deviant and spurious.

She pointed out that even the material specifications as mentioned in the GI journals, specifically Kanchipuram Sarees are not adhered to. Eg. for Kanchipuram saree, the zari should have 78% silver, 21% silk, and 1% gold, which are impossible to comply with. The "Zari Mark" of cooperative society has stipulated as 40% silver, 35.5% copper, 24% silk and 0.5% gold.

Also the Korvai ( Three Shuttle Technique ) of weaving sarees is declining as the process is vary much combersome.

So because of fixing of attributes of sarees, there is a spawning of a whole genre of products knows as "Duplicate Sarees", which have all the features of the Kanchipuram sarees as mentioned in the GI, which have everything except compromise on three cost raising features- zari, silk and Korvai.

GI has transformed manufacturing hubs from "spaces of production" to "places of origin".


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