The rasagola, a popular dessert of Odisha, has received the geographical indication tag from the Registrar of Geographical Indication after years of controversy around the sweet.
What was the controversy?
- Both Odisha and West Bengal have been contesting the origin of the rasagola.
- In November 2017, West Bengal was granted the GI tag for its own ‘Banglara Rasgulla’ which led people to erroneously believe that the GI Registry recognised Bengal as its place of origin, which is factually incorrect.
- Bengalis claim that the Rasgulla was invented in the 19th century by Nobin Chandra Das at his Bagbazar residence in Kolkata, while Odias believe that the tradition of Niladri Bije where Rasgulla is offered started in the 12th century.
- In 2015, the Odisha government had formed three committees to identify the origin of the Rasgulla and study its background
- Historical records submitted say the ‘Odisha Rasagola’ is associated with world famous Puri Jagannath Temple.
- The GI tag for Bengal and Odisha Rasagullas recognise two distinct versions of the sweet.
- The Odisha government had filed for geographical recognition of the ‘Odishara Rasagulla’ with the GI Registry in Chennai last year.
- According to the application submitted to the Registrar of GI, ‘Odisha Rasagola’ is a sweet from the state of Odisha made of chhena (cottage cheese) cooked in sugar syrup, which is very soft to feel, is juicy and non- chewy in consistency and can be swallowed without teeth pressure.
- Colour development of the ‘Odisha Rasagola’ is very specific, where without addition of external colour, various intensely-coloured rasagolas are prepared using the principle of caramelisation of sugar with specific methods of preparation, the application said.
- The area of production of Odisha Rasagola has been shown all 30 districts.
- The sweet has been registered under GI of Goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 2019 as ‘Odisha Rasagola’.
- The GI number 612 has been registered in favour of the Odisha Small Industries Corporation Limited (OSIC Limited), a government of Odisha undertaking and Utkal Mistanna Byabasayee Samiti, a traders’ organisation, in the foodstuff category.
- The first Odia product to receive a GI tag was Kandhamal Haldi, a type of turmeric produced by tribal farmers in the state’s Kandhamal district.
What is Geographical Indication Tag?
- A geographical indication (GI) is symbol used on products that have a particular geographical origin and own qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin.
- In order to function as a GI, a sign must recognize an item as starting in a given place. A geographical indication right empowers those who have the right to use the sign to prohibit its use by a third party whose product does not imitate to the applicable standards.
- Geographical Indications are covered as a component of intellectual property rights (IPRs) under the Paris Convention for the Protection of Industrial Property.
- At the International level, GI is governed by World Trade Organisation’s (WTO’s) Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
- In India, Geographical Indications registration is administered by the Geographical Indications of goods (Registration and Protection) Act, 1999 which came into force with effect from September 2003. The first product in India to be accorded with GI tag was Darjeeling tea in the year 2004-05.
Significance of Geographical Indication:
- The purpose of a geographical indication may act as admittance that the product possesses certain attributes, is made according to traditional methods, or enjoys a certain prominence due to its geographical origin.
- However, it must be noted that a protected geographical indication does not permit the holder to forbid someone from making a product using the same approaches as those set out in the standards for that indication.