Ooty(licious) Varkey to get a GI tag

Ooty VarkeyAfter the Rasgullas making its way to claim a Geographical Indication (GI), it is the Ooty’s varkey (crispy biscuits) that is next in the pipeline. The Ooty Varkey Producers Welfare Association has filed an application for registration of a GI for the baked delicacy originating from the Nilgris.

As claimed, the varkey has been a popular snack which traces the history back from the British Raj. Over the years its popularity as a take home item has been growing amongst the tourists from various parts of the world.

The uniqueness of the varkey is proclaimed on the grounds of its hand-made mixture which comprises of flour, sugar, salt and mava (a mix of home-made yeast comprising banana, rava or semolina, maida or flour, and sugar). The varkey mix is baked in a firewood oven on moderate heat. The entire process, from preparing the dough mix to baking, takes around 12 hours and has a shelf-life of 20 days. It is claimed that the quality of water along with the favorable climatic conditions in the Nilgiris give a special taste to the varkey[1].

While examining the GI applications, factors like the weather and natural resources innate to a particular place are the determinative links between the subject matter of the GI and the place claiming the GI. Careful analysis of scientific parameters such as temperature, soil, moisture which establishes an association as well as accredit to the characteristics of the product needs to be formulated.

India, as a TRIPS compliant member, enacted the Geographical Indications Act in 1999 which came into effect in September 2003. A GI is a tag given to a product indicating its origin, which usually over the time becomes synonymous with the product itself. It acts as a mechanism that helps producers authenticate their products from competing products in the market and enables producers to build a reputation and goodwill around their products that will yields a premium price. Darjeeling tea, Bikaneri Bhujia, Banaras Sarees etc. are classic examples where the place of origin becomes a mark of quality assurance of the product while conferring legal protection. The tag ensures none other than those authorized are allowed to use the product name.

[1] Geographical Indication Application No. 529 as filed on August 3, 2015 , available at < http://ipindiaservices.gov.in /GI_DOC/529/529%20-%20Form%20GI-1%20-%2003-08-2015.pdf> (Last viewed on September 16, 2015)