After four years of heated debates on the origins of the rasagola, Odisha on Monday received a geographical indication (GI) tag for the Indian sweet.
A certificate from the Geographical Indication Registry, Government of India, states that the GI tag has been registered in respect of “Odisha Rasagola” in the name of The Odisha Small Industries Corporation Limited and Utkala Mistanna Byabasayee Samiti (Utkala Sweetmakers Business Body). This GI tag, numbered 612, is the second for Odisha. It got its first GI tag for Kandhamal Haldi.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik tweeted, “This mouthwatering culinary delight made of cottage cheese, loved by Odias across the world, is offered to Lord Jagannath as part of bhog since centuries.”
Last year, the Odisha government had filed for the recognition of the “Odishara Rasagulla” with the GI Registry office. The state government was under pressure to file for recognition of its variant of the sweet after West Bengal was awarded the GI tag for its own variant in 2017, prompting heated arguments on the origin of the sweet.
However, questions have been raised whether a GI tag can be awarded to two states for what seems as nearly the same product. “Both GI tags can subsist without contradiction. Rasagulla is the generic name of a sweet. It has variants from Bengal and Odisha for unique properties in each,” said Prashanth Kumar, senior examining officer with the GI.
What a geographical indication tag means
A Geographical Indicator tag for a particular product, which experts call a ‘legal right’, recognises it as distinctive to a particular locality or region or country. As a member of the World Trade Organization, India had enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration & Protection) Act, 1999, which came into force from 2003.
West Bengal, in its GI application, cited writer Panchanan Bandyopadhyay, who had claimed 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 Rasikata in 1896, the application had added.
Meanwhile, Odisha, in its application for GI status, had stated that the reference of rasagola was found in the late 15th century, Odia (Dandi) Ramayana written by Balaram Das.
It claimed that its rasagola was unique as the colour development is “very specific, where without addition of external colour, various intensity coloured rasagolas are prepared”.
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