West Bengal’s Sweet Triumph in the Bitter Clash with Odhisa

Introduction

The Geographical Indications Of Goods (Registration And Protection) Act, 1999 defines ‘geographical indication’ 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 characteristic of such goods is essentially attributable to its geographical origin.’

The objective of this IP is to protect the interests of its producers and further their economic interests by assuring quality and uniqueness, which are attributable to the place of its origin. Mysore Silk, Darjeeling Tea, Coorg Orange, Kashmir Pashmina etc. are some instances of GI.

 Claims of Origin Lying In Odisha

Odisha’s government claimed to that the sweet, RASSOGOLLA originated in the city of Puri in the 13thcentury and legend has it that Lord Jagannath offered these sweets to his consort Lakshmi, as an apology for not taking her along during the ritual chariot ride. Further, they stated that its first form was ‘kheer mohana’, that later evolved into ‘pahala rasagolla’. So much so, various historians commented on the sweet’s origin in Odisha, one of them being Asit Mohanty  who quoted from an article published in the April, 2011 edition  of ‘Saptahik Bartamaan, a popular Bengali magazineto prove that rasogolla was indeed Odisha’s gift to the world. He further went on record with Odisha’s local newspapers and said “Many Brahmin Odia cooks (whom we call ‘Thakur’) came to Bengal in search of work in the middle of the nineteenth century. It was through them that many recipes from that state, including ‘rasogolla’, landed in Bengal.”

However, things heated up in June 2015, when Odisha’s science and technology minister Pradip Kumar Panigrahi set up committees to trace the origin of the dish, moreover, they announced 30 July as ‘Rasagolla Dibasa’ to celebrate its origin in Odhisa.

Claims of Invention in West Bengal

West Bengal contended that rosogulla originated in the 1868 by a renowned local confectioner Nabin Chandra Das. Post Odisha’s claims the descendants of Nabin Chandra Das planned to challenge the Odisha government with the support of documentary evidence. With the assistance of historian Haripada Bhowmick they prepared a booklet, which they proposed to send to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee for necessary action at her end.

On the other end, the Bengal government left no stone unturned and filed a court petition in tandem with an application for a Geographical Indication (GI) recognition to finally settle the origin debate. The government took assistance from KC Das Sweets for all required documents and information to authenticate the claims of invention occurring in West Bengal by Nabin Chandra Das.

Conclusion

The Directorate of Food Processing Industries of West Bengal made an application in 2015, for a Geographical Indication (GI) status to “Banglar Rasogolla”. Clarifying further, the government stated there was no conflict with Odhisa as its application was for a specific variant which varied “both in colour, texture, taste, juice content and method of manufacturing” from its alternative, produced in Odisha. On 14 November 2017, the GI Registry of India granted West Bengal the GI status for Banglar Rasogolla.

Analysis

At first sight, when one reads of the controversy between two state governments over the origin of a sweet, it may seem over hyped. But on giving it a second thought, you can see that this debate is not merely about Bengali and Odia sentiments but this may also convert into fruitful business for confectioners in the two states. The GI status to Bengali Rasgulla makes it clear that “Rasgulla” is a generic term and thus cannot be given a GI tag as a whole. Hence, tomorrow even Odisha’s government could make an application for its regional variant of Rasgulla. Therefore, technically the question of Rasgulla’s origin has yet not been resolved but as a wise man had once said “Some questions are best left unanswered”.

Author: Ms. Avadhi Jain, intern at Khurana & Khurana, Advocates and IP Attorneys. Can be reached at swapnils@khuranaandkhurana.com.

References:

[1]http://www.newindianexpress.com/nation/2017/nov/14/sweet-war-this-gi-tag-is-for-banglar-rosogolla-it-is-not-about-the-origin-1700787.html

[2]http://www.moneycontrol.com/news/trends/your-rasgulla-or-mine-west-bengal-to-go-to-court-against-odisha-in-bitter-fight-over-sweet-dishs-origin-2434861.html

[3] https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/bengal-odisha-battle-for-rasgulla-likely-to-take-a-bitter-legal-turn/story-jzXyhy9ppRb6puJk4pocvO.html

 

Leave a Reply

Archives

  • October 2021
  • September 2021
  • August 2021
  • July 2021
  • June 2021
  • May 2021
  • April 2021
  • March 2021
  • February 2021
  • January 2021
  • December 2020
  • November 2020
  • October 2020
  • September 2020
  • August 2020
  • July 2020
  • June 2020
  • May 2020
  • April 2020
  • March 2020
  • February 2020
  • January 2020
  • December 2019
  • November 2019
  • October 2019
  • September 2019
  • August 2019
  • July 2019
  • June 2019
  • May 2019
  • April 2019
  • March 2019
  • February 2019
  • January 2019
  • December 2018
  • November 2018
  • October 2018
  • September 2018
  • August 2018
  • July 2018
  • June 2018
  • May 2018
  • April 2018
  • March 2018
  • February 2018
  • January 2018
  • December 2017
  • November 2017
  • September 2017
  • August 2017
  • July 2017
  • June 2017
  • May 2017
  • April 2017
  • March 2017
  • February 2017
  • January 2017
  • December 2016
  • November 2016
  • October 2016
  • September 2016
  • August 2016
  • July 2016
  • June 2016
  • May 2016
  • April 2016
  • March 2016
  • February 2016
  • January 2016
  • December 2015
  • November 2015
  • October 2015
  • September 2015
  • August 2015
  • July 2015
  • June 2015
  • May 2015
  • April 2015
  • March 2015
  • February 2015
  • January 2015
  • December 2014
  • November 2014
  • October 2014
  • September 2014
  • August 2014
  • July 2014
  • June 2014
  • May 2014
  • April 2014
  • March 2014
  • February 2014
  • January 2014
  • December 2013
  • November 2013
  • October 2013
  • September 2013
  • August 2013
  • July 2013
  • June 2013
  • May 2013
  • April 2013
  • March 2013
  • February 2013
  • January 2013
  • December 2012
  • November 2012
  • September 2012
  • August 2012
  • July 2012
  • June 2012
  • May 2012
  • April 2012
  • March 2012
  • February 2012
  • January 2012
  • December 2011
  • November 2011
  • October 2011
  • September 2011
  • August 2011
  • July 2011
  • June 2011
  • May 2011
  • April 2011
  • March 2011
  • February 2011
  • January 2011
  • December 2010
  • September 2010
  • July 2010
  • June 2010
  • May 2010
  • April 2010