And the GI tag for rasgulla goes to...: Sweet news for West Bengal, Odisha left with bitter taste

The battle between West Bengal and Odisha for the Geographical Indication (GI) tag for the rasgulla has finally reached a conclusion, and it's West Bengal that has emerged victorious.

 And the GI tag for rasgulla goes to...: Sweet news for West Bengal, Odisha left with bitter taste

Representational image. AFP

But before diving into the history — and ramifications — of this battle, let's get into what the relevance of a GI tag is. As defined by the World Intellectual Property Organisation, "A geographical indication is a sign used on products that have a specific geographical origin and possess qualities or a reputation that are due to that origin."

Essentially, the GI tag provides an assurance of quality and uniqueness, which are attributable to the place of its origin.

This agricultural, natural or a manufactured cultural product is awarded a tag by experts to protect manufacturers who produce these genuine products. They also get a premium pricing for the same in the domestic and international markets thanks to the tag.

Some other products from India to get the tag include Darjeeling tea, Madhubani paintings, Kashmir pashmina and Nagpur oranges, etc.

West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee was delighted by the news. "Sweet news for us all. We are very happy and proud that Bengal has been granted GI status for rasgulla," she said, taking to Twitter to express her delight.

It brings to a conclusion a bitter battle over the sweet. For years, Odisha and West Bengal have bickered over where the dish originated from. Odisha claimed to have "invented" the sweet, saying it had ties to a centuries-old ritual associated with Lord Jagannath.

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The tussle escalated in June 2015, after Odisha's science and technology minister Pradip Kumar Panigrahi set up committees to trace the origin of the dish, as per a report on CNN-News18. They even went a step further to declare 30 July as 'Rasagolla Dibasa' to celebrate its origin.

The report said that the West Bengal government then decided to fight this claim legally and provided evidence that the dessert was, in fact, created by renowned sweet-maker Nabin Chandra Das in 1868. Das' great-grandson, also the executive director of KC Das Pvt Ltd, told The Indian Express that they were happy with the decision. "We are all so happy. It was a bitter fight. We provided documents to prove our claim that rasgulla originated from Bengal. We also thank our chief minister, who after seeing media reports, asked the government to apply for GI registration," he said.

The Hindu reported that besides rasgulla, Banganapalle mangoes from Andhra Pradesh, Tulapanji rice from West Bengal and seven other products will also get a GI tag this year by the Indian patent office. The report added that in the 2016-17 fiscal year, 33 items received GI registrations.

The commerce and industry ministry had launched a contest for designing a common logo and tagline for Geographical Indications to increase awareness about intellectual property rights. This is apart of the ministry's ongoing social media campaign #LetsTalkIP to promote Indian GIs.

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Updated Date: Nov 15, 2017 07:10:42 IST