The white soft mithai doused in a sugary syrup was the subject matter of tussle between West Bengal and Odisha. West Bengal government has filed a court petition along with an application for a Geographical Indication (GI) recognition for the Rasgolla. Odisha too applied for a Geographical Indication tag for the sweet.
The Odisha government even formed a committee Odisha's science and technology minister Pradip Kumar Panigrahi to claim that the desert had its roots in Odisha. Rhetorics were high in both the neighboring states as Odisha step further and declared 30 July as 'Rasagolla Dibasa' to celebrate its origin. Odisha had claimed that the sweet originated from the Jagannath Temple in Puri, where it has a part of the religious rituals since the 12th century. Odisha called it 'Pahala Rasgulla' but in its original application to the Geographical Indication, West Bengal had sought the Geographical Indication tag on what they call it as "Banglar Rasogolla" (Bengal's Rasgulla) which was different from that of Odisha in terms of colour, texture, taste, juice content and the manufacturing process.
West Bengal claimed that confectioner Nobin Chandra Das is widely known as the one, who created Rasgolla in the 1860s.The GI Registrar Office settled the issue once and for all granting West Bengal the desired GI tag.
Did You Know - Darjeeling tea became the first Geographical Indication tagged product in India with the enactment of Geographical Indications of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999. Since then nearly 300 goods have been added to the list. So, what is a Geographical Indication Tag and why were the stakes so high? As defined by the section 2 (3)(e) of the Act, Geographical indication has been defined as "an indication which identifies such goods as agricultural goods, natural goods or manufactured goods as originating, or manufactured in the territory of a country, or a region or locality in that territory, where a given quality, reputation or other characteristics of such goods is essentially attributable to its geographical origin and in case where such goods are manufactured goods one of the activities of either the production or of processing or preparation of the goods concerned takes place in such territory, region or locality, as the case may be." Essentially, the GI tag is an intellectual property identifier recognizing the origin of a product and providing an assurance of quality and uniqueness, which are attributable to the place of its origin. Once the GI tag is granted to a product, it prevents unauthorized use of the geographical indication by producers elsewhere.
Under Section 39 of the Act anyone who falsely applies or falsifies any geographical indication, tampers the origin of a good or even makes or has in possession machines or other accessories to use in the falsification of GI is an offender. This helps in boosting the business in its indigenous place due to higher export demands owing to its unique identity. A GI is registered for an initial period of ten years, which may be renewed from time to time.
For now, with bragging rights secured over the sweet West Bengal can help manufacturers with better incentives. For Odisha with all the hype it created, the Sweet has left a bitter taste in their mouth. Kolkata the city of Joy can now rejoice even more over its blue-eyed sweet “Rasgolla”.