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NEWS DIARY | June 2011 News Briefs

GI Status for Scotch Whisky in India
Lokpal Bill: Woes for Gov’t
Hi-tech Security

GI Status for Scotch Whisky in India

India has granted ‘geographical indication of origin’ (GI) status to Scotch Whisky, a legal protection that will help prevent the sale of counterfeit products in the Indian market as well as reinforce the authenticity of the product for the consumer.

The recognition was marked by an event in Edinburgh attended by the Indian consul-general Anil Anand, Scotland Office minister David Mundell and Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) chief Gavin Hewitt on Friday.

The SWA had applied for the GI status in India in 2009.

The status - the first such protection in the Indian sub-continent for whisky - now means that only spirits produced in Scotland can use ‘Scotch Whisky’ in their labels.

Sale of counterfeit ‘Scotch Whisky’ in India had led to a belief in the industry that more ‘Scotch Whisky was sold in India than was made in Scotland,’ but such sale will now face major challenges due to the GI status granted to ‘Scotch Whisky.’

The SWA said in a statement that consumers in India will now receive better protection from fake ‘Scotch Whisky’ following the decision formally to recognize Scotch Whisky as a product that can only be made in Scotland.

The GI registration supports the integrity of Scotch Whisky as a product made in Scotland according to the Scotch Whisky Regulations 2009.


Lokpal Bill: Woes for Gov’t

The Indian government today came under attack from several political parties for involving the civil society in preparation of the draft for Lokpal Bill.

Sources said that most of the parties felt that the government erred in its decision to form a Joint Committee with five members each from the civil society and the government and should have instead tried to take political parties into confidence over the issue.

Senior BJP leader Sushama Swaraj said the government had set aside constitutional and political processes and tried to draft the bill with civil society. “It is only when you got stuck, you remembered us,” she told the government.

BJD’s Arjun Charan Sethi said the government has set a new precedent by making a Joint Committee with civil society members and it should not have been done.

Even AIADMK, which was on the same page with the government on the issue of not bringing Prime Minister under the Lokpal’s ambit, felt the government should have consulted political parties first before issuing the notification for the ten-member joint committee having five civil society members to draft the Lokpal bill.

CPI-M leader Sitaram Yechury appeared sarcastic on civil society when he wondered whether elected representatives are “uncivil society,” sources said.

After the meeting Yechury said, “Constitutional scheme of things cannot be disturbed. The sovereignty of Parliament has to be maintained and it is only Parliament, which can make a law. So bring a bill and have discussion in Parliament.”

BJD, JD and Samajwadi Party were also critical of the government for engaging with civil society first on drafting the bill.

Samajwadi Party’s Ram Gopal Yadav said he did not want to even see or discuss the draft prepared by Hazare’s team. RJD chief Laloo Prasad also felt it was a wrong move.


Hi-tech Security

After a treasure trove was discovered at the Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple, Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy today said a hi-tech security system, including a 24-hour mobile control room, would be installed.

The precious objects were discovered during the ongoing inventory by a panel appointed by the Supreme Court.

Chandy, who chaired a high-level meeting over the issue, said all decisions regarding the temple, including preservation of its immense treasures, would be taken in view of the apex court’s directions on the matter.

However, UDF government’s stand was that the invaluable assets should be protected as the temple’s property by providing foolproof security at the state government’s cost.

The views of the Travancore royal family and the temple high priest would also be factored in while taking decisions on the temple’s assets and its security, Chandy told reporters after two-hour deliberations with senior police officials.

A 24-hour mobile control room will patrol areas around the temple.

The Government’s proposals on preserving the assets and their security would be submitted through the additional chief secretary K. Jayakumar, who is a member of the apex court appointed panel.

“Whatever steps we take, they would be taken without coming in way of the temple’s customs, traditions and rituals. We know the issue involves dimensions of faith, history and archaeology,” he said.

On the actual value of the treasures, Chandy said he was not authorized to speak on such specifics.

Devaswom (temple affairs) Minister V.S. Sivakumar, DGP Jacob Punnose, Additional Chief Secretary K. Jayakumar were among those who attended the meeting.



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