Sweet to get origin identity

Geographical indication for Pahala rasgulla set in motion

By Awesha Ambaly in Bhubaneshwar
  • Published 27.05.15
Pahala rasgullas being sold along NH-5 between Cuttack and Bhubaneswar. Picture by Sanjib Mukherjee

Bhubaneswar, May 26: The state government is planning to obtain geographical indication (GI) for an age-old sweet of Odisha, Pahala rasgulla.

The state ministry of micro small and medium enterprises (MSME) has asked the district industries centre in Cuttack to initiate the process.

The geographical indication (GI) of goods acts as the "claim to fame" for a state. It identifies a product as originating from a particular location and conveys an assurance of quality and distinctiveness that is essentially attributable to the fact of its origin. India, as a member of the World Trade Organisation, enacted the Geographical Indications of Goods Act in 1999 that came into force in 2003.

Located on the National Highway No. 5 between Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, the small settlement of Pahala houses around 120 sweet shops. The stalls having an earthy look serve one of the most delectable traditional sweets of the state, rasgulla.

A special purpose vehicle will be formed for channelising funds for the project to facilitate GI registration for the rasgulla cluster. "We are focusing on developing the cluster for making it ready for the application. A consultant will be appointed and he would suggest the necessary changes required in terms of quality, packaging and others, along with judging the preparedness among the sellers," said secretary of the MSME department Panchanan Das.

The department officials would meet the vendors to chalk out a detailed plan of action. "Once the preliminary survey is done, we will address the sellers on how the GI registration has helped promotion of goods in various parts of the country. Thereafter, we would initiate a tie-up with them and begin implementing changes at the earliest," said Das.

The department will also conduct a diagnostic study report that would indicate the strengths and weaknesses for the cluster.

"The report would judge the necessary governmental intervention required for the establishment of common facilities for the sellers, bettering the packaging and boosting the popular sweet item," he said.

The government would apply for the registration within three months. "We have set a target, and we are quit confident of meeting the requirements within the stipulated time," he said.

The GI indication would confer legal protection to the item, along with preventing its unauthorised use. It would also promote economic prosperity of the producers of the sweets along with promoting the Pahala rasgulla on a global platform.

"We have been making sweets since long, but till date our reach is limited. If the government supports us in endorsing our livelihood, we are upbeat," said a vendor, Sukanta Pradhan.

The first item from Odisha that received the GI tag was the Kotpad handloom fabric followed by Ikat and the Konark stone carving. At present, there are around 14 goods from the state in the list with the latest addition being the pattachitra textile.