Saving the ancient Bandhani fabric

By V.N. Balakrishna, IANS

Ahmedabad, Aug. 10, 2008 | Mention Bandhani and immediately what comes to mind is bright fabric of immaculate quality and rich history. Now, the spoiler – the brand is in urgent need of being rescued from the clutches of unscrupulous dealers who are peddling low quality products in the name of Bandhani.

The Jamnagar and Kutch areas of Gujarat are associated with Bandhani. The fabric is specially tie-dyed by hand. The art of making these cotton and silk clothes of vibrant designs and colours have been passed down through generations. The Sindhis, Muslims and Khatris of Kutch are known to have practised this art.

“Bandhani is a list of products and does not refer only to saris. It can be a turban, sari, or even dupattas and the material may be cotton or silk. Bandhani refers to particular areas in Jamnagar and Kutch districts where this ancient art was prevailing,” RM Shanker, a research officer of Atira (The Ahmedabad Textile Industry’s Research Association), said.

Today however this fabric runs the risk of losing its identity as the name is being attached to low quality products. The government plans to combat that by attaching a geographical indication (GI) tag to the real thing.

“The union ministry of textiles has in consultation with state governments prepared a list of 5,000 textile items and under the initiative of the United Nations the Bandhani saris and Kutchi shawls could be included for GI registration,” Shanker told IANS.

GI refers to a country or a place that conveys an assurance of quality, antiquity and distinctiveness, Sankar elaborated.

However, GI recognition can take time. It is the stakeholders who have to file the application for GI registration and Atira is only a facilitator.

The government has now realised bogus Bandhani fabric could sound the death knell of the original ones. To save the Bandhani tradition, the commerce ministry had recommended to the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to cover Bandhani in the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) and GI.

A part of the WTO agreement is about IPR. It covers several industries like pharmaceuticals. Called intellectual trading and based on intellectual products comprising know-how, designs and innovations in textiles too are now being covered.

In India the textile ministry is doing further research on the 5,000 textile products selected for their antiquity and are working towards preventing misuse of their brand name.


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