Two states in India are fighting over the poor Rasogolloa, the sweet ball in a sugary syrup, popular in India….A special report
A day after West Bengal went ga ga claiming to have received the official recognition that the spongy, syrupy rosogolla originated in its territory, the Geographical Indication (GI) registry on Wednesday made it clear that the tag was given only for “Banglar rasogolla”.
A GI official made it clear that no such tag can be given for the sweet as a whole as it was only a generic term, and Odisha could also make an application for such a tag.
“Bengal had applied for GI tag for “Banglar Rasogolla”. After a thorough examination it was granted. The GI tag has been given for the rasogolla that is made in Bengal,” senior examiner, GI, Prashanth Kumar told IANS over phone.
As per the GI Registry website, the Geographical Indication number 533 was registered on November 14 in the name of West Bengal State Food Processing and Horticulture Development Corporation Limited with respect to “Banglar rasogolla”. The WBSFPHDCL had filed the relevant application to the GI registry on September 18, 2015.
Kumar categorically stated that the tag was not and could not be given for the sweet as a whole.
“Rosogolla is a generic term. People can add prefix and suffix to i t to get the GI tag. But there can be no GI tag for rosogolla – the sweet – as a whole. Because there can be Nagpur rosogolla, or Bikan er rosogolla. It depends on the process, the composition, etc and etc” .
“You can take the case of Ikat for instance. The Odisha Ikat silk was given the GI tag (in 2007). But there can be other varieties of Ikat in other geographical locations that can get the tag if they apply with proper documentation,” said Kumar.
On Tuesday, West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had announced that the state has got the GI tag for rosogolla.
“Sweet news for us all. We are very happy and proud that Bengal has been granted GI status for Rosogolla,” Banerjee had tweeted from London.
Soon after, the state’s ministers, bureaucrats, celebrities and sweetmakers went into celebratory mode, saying Bengal has won over Odisha in the battle for the rights over the ball-shaped sweet made of cottage cheese.
However, Kumar made it clear that Odisha was well within its right to make an application for GI tag for the rosogolla produced within its domain.
“If they apply, that will be considered and a decision will be take n on the authenticity of the claim by examining the documentation provided by them,” he said.
The Odisha government during the day held a high level meeting and said it would apply for the GI Tag for aOdishara Rasagola’ soon.
The Naveen Patnaik government has come for sharp criticism from various quarters for not applying before the GI Registry even though a report substantiating the origin of the sweet has been prepared by historians and submitted before it.
“It has been decided to file an application for Odishara Rasagola w ith the GI Registry. It is rooted to Jagannath culture,” said MSME secretary L.N. Gupta.
“Registration of GI for Banglar Rasogolla in no way affects the cl aim for GI registration of Odishar Rasogolla. The Bengal and Odisha variants are different in colour, texture, taste, juice content and method of manufacturing,” said Gupta.
The Odishara Rasagola is softer and light brown in colour whereas, Bangalar Rasogolla is white and cream in colour. The syrup used in both the variants is also different.
The dispute began in 2015 when Odisha claimed that rosogolla originated in the state 600 years ago and was first served at the 12th-century Lord Jagannath temple in Puri.
The Odisha government set up three committees to look into the evidence regarding the origin of rosogolla in the state and claimed that more than once oanel had pointed to “conclusive evidence” that the sw eet was first made in Pahelgram close to Bhubaneswar.
Countering Odisha’s claim, the Bengal government applied for GI tag from the GI registry in Chennai, asserting there was “ample” documentary evidence to prove the sweet belongs to Bengal and was invented by famous sweetmeat maker Nabin Chandra Das in 1868.