Sweet rush for GI tag

MOUTHWATERING TREAT: Rasagollas on sale in Pahala (top) and (above) the sweet delicacy. 
Pictures by Ashwinee Pati

After "Banglar Rasogolla" got its GI tag, Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee tweeted "sweet news". This prompted her Odisha counterpart Naveen Patnaik to immediately ask his officials to make serious efforts to get a similar tag for the state's own variety of the sweet.

How the journey for GI tag began

Noted Jagannath scholar Asit Mohanty was the first to put before the state government elaborate evidence about Odisha's claim to rasagolla. A committee was formed under his stewardship that submitted its 100-page report to department of science and technology in July last year.

In its report, the committee had cited several references to stake claim to the origin of the sweet and prove the Bengal government's stand "wrong". In support of Odisha's claim, the committee had pointed to the sweet's reference in Dandi Ramayana, a version of the epic adapted by Balaram Das in the 16th century. Tracing the origin of the sweet, the report also claimed that the sweet had been offered to gods in mutts and temples for over 800 years.

New panel

Based on the Mohanty committee's report, the state government had in August formed an eight-member panel to hasten the process to apply for the GI tag. However, the government is yet to submit the application even though over two months have elapsed since the panel was formed.

Fresh start

Immediately after Bengal bagged the GI tag for "Banglar Rasogolla", the state government came out of its slumber and issued a statement on November 14. The state government claimed that rasagolla originated in Odisha and it had been offered at Puri's Jagannath temple as a part of religious rituals since the 12th century.

Steps taken

With chief minister Naveen Patnaik taking the initiative, the government constituted a team and director of industries was asked to take steps to file Odisha's claim. The government began the process by consulting Supreme Court lawyers.

Name change

On suggestions of Supreme Court lawyers Odisha will now apply for geographical indication tag for "Jagannath Rasagolla" and not "Pahala Rasagolla" as it was decided earlier.

Why the change

Lawyers believe it will be easier to get the tag under the new name as the state has historical/mythological evidence to support its claim. The same claim cannot be made for rasagolla made in Pahala and Salepur.

GI Tag cannot be given to a product that is generic in nature and produced or manufactured at various other places either in the same name or in differently. Kolhapuri chappal is one such example. It could not get GI tag as it is made at various parts of the country. Pipili appliqué and Konark stone carving could not get the tag on same grounds.

Applicant for tag

Armed with relevant documents, the Jagannath Temple Administration or Sevyat Sangh will apply for the GI tag after following due procedure as prescribed under the Goods/ Registration and Protection Rule, 2002.

The spirit of the law suggests that the applicant must be representing the interest of producers of the goods concerned. That is why it has been found expedient to seek GI tag registration for "Jagannath Rasagolla".

Filling of application

To seek registration, at least 300 valid manufacturers of the product should apply for the tag.

Each manufacturer is required to pay Rs 500 towards registration and in addition pay Rs 5,000 for GI tag registration. Quality assurance, third party inspection, market survey should be taken into consideration while filing the application.

Stand vis-à-vis Bengal

The state government will not oppose GI status to "Banglar Rosogolla" as "it will be a waste of time".


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