Odisha’s claims on ‘Rasagola’ acknowledged! State receives GI tag for popular sweetdish

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Published: July 30, 2019 12:18:01 PM

A certificate from the Geographical Indication Registry, Government of India, stated that the GI tag has been registered in respect of the ‘Odisha Rasagola’.

OdishaThe GI tag has been registered in respect of the ‘Odisha Rasagola’.

A sweet dish after a full meal or just a light snack between breaks, the popular Indian sweet ‘Rasagola’ is a regular in almost every household! However, after four long years of heated debates and contention over the origin of Rasagola, the state of Odisha has finally received a geographical indication (GI) tag for the popular Indian sweet. According to an IE report, a certificate from the Geographical Indication Registry, Government of India, stated that the GI tag has been registered in respect of the ‘Odisha Rasagola’. This is done in the name of The Odisha Small Industries Corporation Limited and the Utkala Mistanna Byabasayee Samiti (Utkala Sweetmakers Business Body). The GI tag, numbered by 612, is the second for Odisha. It got its first GI tag for Kandhamal Haldi or turmeric.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik recently tweeted that the mouthwatering culinary delight which is made of cottage cheese, loved by Odiyas across the globe, is usually offered to Lord Jagannath as part of the ‘bhog’ since centuries. During the previous year, the Odisha government had filed for the recognition of ‘Odishara Rasagulla’ with the official GI Registry office. The state government was under pressure to file for the recognition of its variant of the popular sweet after West Bengal was awarded the GI tag for its own variant in the year 2017. This has prompted heated arguments and discussions over the origin of the sweet.

However even then, many questions have been raised whether a GI tag can be awarded to two states in the country for an almost similar product. Prashanth Kumar, senior examining officer with the GI was quoted saying that both the GI tags can subsist without any contradiction. Rasagulla is the generic name of a sweet and it has variants from Bengal as well as Odisha with unique properties in each.

In simple words, a geographical indicator tag for a particular product, which officials and experts call a ‘legal right’, recognises the specific product as distinctive to a particular locality/state or region or country. As a member of the World Trade Organization, India had enacted the geographical indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act of 1999, which came into force from the year 2003.

In its GI application, the state of West Bengal had cited writer Panchanan Bandyopadhyay, who had claimed that the rasogolla was invented in the state’s Nadia district. The rasogolla was appreciated as being a treasure of Bengal by Rakhaldas Adhikari in his poem titled Rasikata in the year 1896, the GI application had added.

On the other hand, Odisha, in its application for the GI status, had stated that the reference of rasagola was found in the late 15th century, Odia Ramayana which was written by Balaram Das. It stated in the application that the rasagola was unique as the colour development is very specific without addition of any external colour.

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