Tribal welfare: GI tag can help ST entrepreneurs thrive

  • IASbaba
  • September 25, 2020
  • 0
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Topic: General Studies 2:

  • Mechanisms, laws, institutions and Bodies constituted for the protection and betterment of these vulnerable sections (STs)
  • Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation

Tribal welfare: GI tag can help ST entrepreneurs thrive

Context: In the era of Inclusive development the empowerment of scheduled tribes (ST), which are largely economically and socially backward, has assumed special significance.

A sustainable way to empower Schedule Tribes is help them become self-employed entrepreneurs.

Self-employment is already high amongst STs

  • According to the Periodic Labour Force Survey (PLFS) 2018-19 report, a large proportion of scheduled tribe workers (57%) are self- employed, basically in the agriculture & allied activities and handicrafts.
  • Around 30% are casual and agricultural labour and only around 13% are engaged in salaried employment.
  • Hence, it is essential to explore skilling avenues which would help them earn more in the same occupation.

Would the GI tag help the tribes to become entrepreneurs?

  • 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
  • GI holds the potential for increasing the value and market price of a wide variety of potential GI forest products for local ST communities.
  • Many communities have benefited enormously economically from the GI recognition granted to their traditional products.
  • For instance, post the GI tag, the price of Kadaknath Chicken, a native breed of the Dhar and Jhabua districts in Madhya Pradesh and primarily nurtured by the Bhil tribals, has gone up significantly. 
  • The GI tagged aromatic Araku Valley Coffee, originally produced by the tribal population of Andhra Pradesh, is now being exported as a premium lifestyle and health product

Will getting the GI tag be enough to economically upstage the tribal population?

There are various challenges associated post giving GI Tag to traditional products of STs, some of which are:

  • Challenges of Middlemen: The benefit of the GI registered tribal product, in many cases, accrues not to the artist but to traders or middlemen.
  • Issue of duplicate and fake products: Traditional hand-woven designs are often duplicated and sold at a lower price through mass production, which deprives the tribes of their legitimate income
  • A case in point is the GI registered unique hand-woven embroidery and textile designs made by the Toda tribe of the Nilgiris.
  • Challenges of Marketing and brand promotion: The GI tag enhances the value—in terms of sales and profits—of only those products which are known, are already profitable

Way Ahead

  • Proactive State Governments: States should try to identify traditional products, which incorporate the knowledge and skills of the scheduled tribes, and strive to get GI tag for such products
  • Effective Implementation of GI Provisions: Any infringement of GI provisions, such as cases of proliferation of duplicate and fake products, should be dealt severely.
  • Inclusive GI Tag recognition: There is a need to upgrade the GI Act, 1999, and make it more inclusive and responsive to ground realities so that more products are GI registered.
  • Civil Society Support: It is also critical that NGOs and corporates support the branding and marketing of GI products. In fact, the credit for establishing Araku Valley coffee as an international brand owes essentially to the marketing efforts of an NGO and select corporates.
  • Enterprise-facilitating platform such as a chamber of commerce, governmental help desk or a voluntary organisation dedicated to GI must be constituted. This would help connect the buyer with the original seller/tribal, thereby helping in reducing the exploitative gap between owner and seller within the GI ecosystem
  • Legal Support: The inclusion of legal support services within the chamber of commerce and voluntary organisations also helps protect the rights of tribes.


At a time when the government is working on the ‘One District, One Product’ plan and considers the use of GI tag for better results, the experience of scheduled tribes could hel

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