Nagaland chief minister Neiphiu Rio has written to union minister of textiles Smriti Irani to issue necessary directives to the National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT) Kolkata not to issue any patents for the designs and patterns of costumes, attires and handicrafts of Nagaland to anyone other than Naga tribal bodies.
In a letter to Irani on November 3, which was made available to the media on Tuesday, Rio pointed out that all the Naga tribes are known for their distinct designs and patterns for their shawls, attire and costumes which is an integral part of the Naga customs and traditions.
“Most of the designs and patterns have cultural and historical connotations. The protocol and practice with regard to who can wear which costumes as also the way of draping the shawls has also been laid down as per the customary traditions and practices,” the letter said.
The NIFT Kolkata is in the process of registering the traditional crafts of the northeastern states under the Geographical Indication (GI) Act.
According to reports, NIFT director Bibekananda Banerjee said the NIFT Kolkata has identified 18 crafts, including the Naga shawl, bamboo and cane and bell-metal products, to be filed under the GI Act.
Frontal Naga organisations such as the Naga Hoho, the Naga Mother’s Association and other tribe hohos (organisations) had opposed the NIFT move. The Naga Hoho said the Naga people cannot accept the action of the NIFT, saying prior and proper confirmation should be obtained before making such a move.
“Most of the tribal hohos and organisations have applied for patenting the unique designs and patterns of the attires and costumes. However, it is learnt that Regional Director, North East Region, Office of Development Commissioner, Handicrafts under Ministry of Textiles, has also applied for the same patents,” Rio said in his letter to Irani.
He requested that the development commissioner facilitate the Naga tribe bodies to get “patents for the designs that rightfully belong to them and not take away what has been the cultural and intellectual property of Nagas since time immemorial.”