Despite GI tag, work duplication a major concern, rue Pedana's handloom artisans

However, when TNIE reached out to Kalamkari block-printing designers, they cast apprehension at the enforceability of the GI tag. 

Published: 09th February 2020 09:32 AM  |   Last Updated: 09th February 2020 09:32 AM   |  A+A-

kalamkari

A customer being shown Kalamkari block-printed sarees at Lepakshi expo in Vijayawada on Saturday. (Photo| EPS/ Prasant Madugula)

Express News Service

VIJAYAWADA: Around seven years ago in November 2013, Kalamkari designs made by Pedana’s handloom industry using the traditional block-printing method received geographical indication (GI) tag.

The tag is a hallmark, which safeguards traditional art and craft forms from duplication by people engaged in similar activities elsewhere. However, when TNIE reached out to Kalamkari block-printing designers, they cast apprehension at the enforceability of the GI tag. 

“Despite managing to secure a GI tag, imitation of our work has not come to an end. This situation paired with lack of public knowledge is aiding impostors in stealing our know-how, thereby putting our looms out of business. Most people cannot distinguish between original and fake products. Thus power looms are making brisk business,” said Bhaskar Murthy, owner of a handloom  in Pedana.Downfall of the handloom industry began when the British government introduced imported fabric in the country, an alternative to cheap cloth as opposed to khadi. However, considering the struggles of the industry, Handloom Reservation Act was passed in Parliament in 1985. However, the law failed to live up to its promise. 
“According to the law, those having GI tag have the right to seek legal action against those copying the art form. However, the government itself is not serious when it comes to piracy. On the one hand, we 
are not economically sound to file cases and pay lawyers to fight for us. 

On the other, the government does nothing to keep power looms in check,” Murthy lamented. 
The handloom owner also said that under the 1955 Act, both hand as well as power looms were clubbed together for the duty exemptions but the power loom owners misused the guidelines of the Act and set up several factories across the country. 

“According to the 1955 Act, duty fee was exempted for those who had less than five units in one particular village. Power loom owners took advantage of this and set up numerous factories across the country. This has made it difficult for us to trace how many of them are copying our art and designs. How can we go to each and every power loom to check? Shouldn’t the government do so as it is empowered to help us?” he questioned.

Meanwhile, another worker at Murthy’s factory, who wished to be anonymous said, “Several workshops are conducted where the officials concerned discuss how we lack opportunities for sales. This is a lie. The demand for our products is still high both in the country as well as overseas. The sole problem is that people are often duped into buying power loom products sold under the guise of those made in handlooms.”

He, like his fellow weavers, was of the opinion that instead of conducting workshops, the government should conduct seminars and workshops to teach customers how to recognise the difference between original and duplicate. 

“We respect the efforts the government takes for us. However, they are of no use if the customers continued to get fooled. Power looms are making more profits as they produce clothes at half the cost as compared to us , but sell it at the same cost as us.”

Lepakshi exhibition to end on February 11
Lepakshi exhibition is currently being conducted at Swaraj Maidan from 11 am to 9 pm. The exhibition will conclude on February 11. One can find handloom products from various States there



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