West Bengal has been awarded the Geographical Indication (GI) for “Banglar Rasogolla” (Bengal rasogolla), while Odisha has not yet filed an application despite an extensive government-backed study to claim origin of the sweet.
West Bengal’s Food Processing and Horticulture Department applied for GI registration in 2015 with the name ‘Banglar Rosogolla’. It submitted several documents to substantiate its origin in West Bengal.
The Odisha government restricted its activities to optics such as celebrating ‘Rosogolla Divas’ last year.
On Tuesday afternoon, the Cell for IPR Promotion and Management (CIPAM), under the Union Commerce and Industry Ministry, tweeted, “Banglar Rasogolla from West Bengal gets Geographical Indication (GI) tag. It is a pure white, spongy ball of “Chhana” dipped in light sugar syrup. Banglar Rasogolla is a syrupy dessert popular all over India and abroad.”
The cell works at creating public awareness about IPRs in the country and promote filing of IPR, among others. A GI is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is in London, tweeted, “Sweet news for us all. We are very happy and proud that #Bengal has been granted GI (Geographical Indication) status for Rosogolla.”
Chinnaraja G Naidu, assistant registrar of trademarks and GI, said, “West Bengal government applied for GI for ‘Banglar Rosogolla’ in 2015. Our expert committee reviewed it (and) recently registration was granted.”
Prashanth Kumar, senior examiner, GI, said, “This office had not received any application from Odisha, nor was there any objection…so there was no ruling against the state of Odisha.”
The Odisha government could not explain why it had not filed an application with the GI, even though the state government had formed a committee to study historical origins of the sweet from the state. In 2016, the Mohanty committee had reportedly submitted two documents to the state government with evidence of rasogulla’s Odiya origins. Officials from Odisha’s Department of Science and Technology, reportedly in charge of the fact-finding procedure, claimed no knowledge of the issue.
Top officials from Odisha’s Culture, Food Supplies and Consumer Department, also said they do not know about the development.
West Bengal Education Minister Partha Chatterjee said, “We have always known rasogolla to be ours. There was an attempt to create a controversy over its origin by Odisha (but) our department was quick to react. Now ultimately it has been proved that rasogolla originated from Bengal.”
State Food Processing Minister Abdul Rezzak Mollah said, “We are happy and relieved. We acted in time.”
A retired judge of Odisha High Court said, “As per Section 31 of the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protections) Act, 1999 ‘any person aggrieved’ with the (GI) registrar’s decision can appeal it. Even if the appeal is rejected, the Odisha government can file a special leave petition (SLP) with the Supreme Court.”
The other option before Odisha, the retired judge said, is to file an application with GI recognising the ‘brown’ rasogulla as “kheermohan”, as it was earlier known in Odisha, and not as rasogolla. “This variant of the sweet is different from the white rasogolla, which is linked with Bengal”, the judge said.
Dhiman Das, executive director of K C Das Pvt Ltd, one of the most famous rasogolla retailers, and great grandson of Nabin Chandra Das, who is said to have invented rasogolla, said, “We provided documents to prove our claim that rasogolla originated from Bengal. We also thank our chief minister, who asked the government to apply for GI registration.”
Sudip Mullick, proprietor of Balaram Mullick and Radharaman Mullick, another renowned sweetshop chain, said, “All of us who deal with sweets have been fighting for this along with the state government. We were surprised to read reports when Odisha laid claim to our rasogolla. Rasogolla is synonymous to Bengalis, and now that has been proved.”
A few years ago, Odisha claimed that the sweet was ‘invented’ within its geography, associating it with centuries-old-ritual of Lord Jagannath.