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Verdict on Indo-Pak fight over basmati likely soon

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CHENNAI: Forget the LOC, cross-border skirmishes and nuclear threat. Pakistan has opened a new warfront against India — rice. And the battleground will be southern state of Tamil Nadu — Chennai, to be exact.

Pakistan has now staked claim to an exclusive Geographical Indication (GI) tag for the aromatic, slender and long-grained basmati rice.

Will the strident neighbor succeed in getting an exclusive GI or reach a compromise and settle for joint registration of the tag with India will be known when the Intellectual Property Appellate Board (IPAB) delivers its verdict soon.

For now, the IPAB bench comprising its chairman Justice K N Basha and technical member Sanjeev Kumar Chaswal has reserved its orders on the legal wrangle for the tag. Verdict is to be out soon.

“It is only the area falling within the territory of Pakistan (the Indo-Gangetic plains in the Himalayan foothills) that is entitled to the GI ‘Basmati’ by virtue of having produced this ‘exceptional rice’ over a long period of time,” said the petition from Lahore-based Basmati Growers Association (BGA).

The assistant registrar of GI, Chennai has “gravely erred that rice produced in area/region of Madhya Pradesh, or for that matter any part of India can bear the basmati tag,” the appeal added.

READ ALSO: Peace or not, India & Pak need to unite to save Basmati

Earlier, based on an application of Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), GI status was granted to Basmati rice cultivated in UP, HP, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Punjab and J&K. After MP requested its name be included in the list, the registry on December 31, 2013, directed APEDA to amend its application and include that state too. APEDA moved the IPAB challenging the directive.

Bhopal-based New Darban Social Welfare Society has involved itself to uphold IPAB’s existing order. BGA also filed an appeal in IPAB against the registry’s order. Despite two extensions, BGA failed to provide evidence. APEDA moved an interlocutory petition seeking a direction to quash the opposition petition. The GI registry on December 31, 2013, set aside BGA’s petition. BGA’s appeal against the order is pending.

Last week, BGA submitted its application saying the registry’s order to include additional areas was a ‘grave concern’. “The region of origin of Basmati rice was carved out in early days itself when rice grown in the erstwhile Punjab drew attention…for being distinctive,” said the application.

READ ALSO: Geographical Indication tag sparks a bittersweet debate on rasgulla

There was no “public perception” or recognition” of Basmati being originated from MP. It originated in erstwhile Punjab in Pakistan. “Merely because Basmati germplasm is cultivated in the region/area of MP, Rajasthan, Bihar and Mizoram, it would not entitle them to the GI tag, said the petition adding, the registry had “misinterpreted ‘Basmati as a product rather than GI.”

It also said impleaded parties like Narmada Cereals Pvt Ltd, Daawat Food Ltd and SSA International were exporters and merely having factories in Madhya Pradesh. So they could not file an appeal for inclusion of MP in the area for Basmati cultivation. The order of the registry was silent on the variety of Basmati rice (Pusa variety) being grown in MP. “While variety of Basmati rice is certainly not the only basis, it should have been one of the most important factors,” said the petition.

APEDA, in its application to register Basmati GI, had failed to mention the Basmati-cultivating regions in Pakistan. It, however, had said in “forums and courts all across the world” that Basmati was cultivated in both India and Pakistan, said the petition, requesting the IPAB to allow its original appeal and set aside the order of the registry.

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Source: TOI-Che

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Parents gift newly-weds health insurance

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CHENNAI: Insurance officer Jamuna Bhaskar has planned a unique gift for her daughter and her fiance for their wedding in February. A Rs 50 lakh health insurance package.

“I will be giving them a Rs 50 lakh health insurance cover by paying the first year premium of Rs 40,000. During weddings, we spend so much on festivities, so why not a health cover that covers the couple from Day 1 of their marriage,” Bhaskar said.

With medical inflation at nearly 16% annually, insurers are finding it worthwhile to catch customers young, when they start life as a family. For instance, health insurer Cigna TTK’s agents always target the about-to-be-married or just-married. “Our distributors are leveraging opportunities by targeting youngsters who are about to get married with the plan. With changing lifestyles and a shift in disease burden from communicable to non-communicable coupled with a rising awareness on healthy living and the importance of preventive healthcare, we have got early adopters on our platform,” chief distribution officer of Cigna TTK Health Insurance, Jyoti Punja, said.

Around two-fifth of the company’s customers (Cigna TTK has a client base of one lakh) is 35 years or below. What’s also attracting twosomes to go in for a health cover early on is a maternity benefit (in some plans, there is a two-year waiting period before the maternity benefits start kicking in), coverage of OPD (out- patient department) expenses and vaccination for children.

“There is a tradition of giving some financial investment as a gift (gold, cash or property) during marriage. Also, if a couple opt for a health policy early on, they will get a more exhaustive cover at a cheaper rate. Even if there is a waiting period clause, that too will get exhausted early during the policy term,” writer and insurance historian, K Nitya Kalyani, said.

“It leads to better underwriting as people get a cover without undergoing medical tests,” head of health insurance of Future Generali India Insurance, Shreeraj Deshpande, said. Around 20% of the company’s health policy holders are below 25 years while another 25% of those insured under its medical cover fall in the 25 to 35 bracket.

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Source: TOI-Che

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TN police chase down man trying to escape in stolen car

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MADURAI: A man who on Wednesday tried to steal a car, with the car owner’s wife sitting inside it, was chased down by police and arrested. Police launched a hunt for a second accused who escaped from their hands.

The two men drove off in the car when the owner of the car K Stephen, 47, from Munnar in Kerala, and the driver stopped for tea at Peraiyur. The driver had not removed the keys, and the thieves made use of the opportunity. The car owner’s wife, a patient returning from hospital, was sitting inside the car.

Police was alerted immediately. The thieves were reportedly heading in the direction of Usilampatti, 40km away from Madurai. Stephen contacted the police control room, and officials from Sedapatti station soon chased and interrupted the car.

The arrested man has been identified as 22-year-old Kannan from Virudhunagar. They were on the lookout for his friend Mani, who escaped from the spot.

The Peraiyur police registered a case of robbery and kidnapping.

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Source: TOI-Che

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