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SNACKS & CONFECTIONERY

West Bengal wins GI tag for Banglar Rasogolla after tussle with Odisha
Wednesday, 29 November, 2017, 08 : 00 AM [IST]
Shraddha Joshi, Mumbai
The tug-of-war between neighbouring states Odisha and West Bengal over the origins of the Rasogolla, the much-loved sweetmeat, has witnessed some kind of settlement as the Geographical Indications (GI) registry recently announced the GI tag for Banglar rasogolla (also known as rasgula) as  a foodstuff that originated from the state of West Bengal.

However, the decision has not a left bitter after-taste for the state of Odisha, as GI officials stated that the GI tag was given only to a particular variant of  rasogolla.

The white syrupy dessert, made of pure chhana (an ingredient obtained from the curdling of pure milk) dumplings dipped into light sugar syrup, had been in the news recently over a long-drawn tussle between the two states, both of whom claimed that it originated in their state.

Background of the tussle
Odisha and West Bengal had been engaged in a bitter fight over the GI registration of rasogolla since 2015. The latter had proved, furnishing records, that it was invented by Calcutta confectioner Nabin Chandra Das in 1868. Meanwhile, the former claimed it was invented in Puri in the 13th century, and that the first avatar of the Rasogolla was the Oriya sweet, kheer mohana.

In September 2015, West Bengal filed an application to obtain the GI tag. The same year, Pradip Kumar Panigrahi, Odisha’s science and technology minister, set up a committee to trace the actual origin of the sweet. The committee presented a 100-page report to support their claim. Despite this, over the years, the battle became a prestige issue for both the states.

However, that GI registry mentioned that so far, no application for GI tag had been submitted by Odisha.

An official from the GI registry said, “We have uploaded all the documents related to this subject. What you will see is that we haven't received any recommendation or application by the state of Odisha. They too can get GI tag, if the necessary evidence is presented.”

“The GI tag has been granted for only for Banglar Rasogolla [which falls in class category of 30 in respect of foodstuff (Rasogolla)], a term which refers only to a specific variant and not to the origin of the sweet,” he added.

“There was no conflict with Odisha state, as the application was only for a specific variant, which was different in colour, texture, taste, juice content and method of manufacturing from the variant produced in Odisha (Pahala Rasagolas),” the official stated.

While Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee had presented the sweetmeat as a cultural ambassador of the state, the Odisha government launched a social media campaign titled #RasagollaDibasa in 2015, along with an exhibition to celebrate the sweet, and celebrated Rasogolla Divas in 2016.

As per the draft submitted with the GI registry, it was estimated that more than 1,00,000 sweetmeat shops in West Bengal were  associated with rasogolla-making industries.

Pashim Banga Mistatma Byabsayee Samity, the concerned producers’ association, declared that approximately 2,00,00,000 rasogollas are produced per day, and the total revenue generated in the state by sale of Banglar Rasogolla per year is approximately Rs 3,600 crore.

Thus the grant of a GI registry in favour of Banglar Rasogolla would help in the trade, export and authentication of uniqueness of the traditional sweet of West Bengal and maintain its quality standards.
 
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