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14 Nov 2017

Rosogolla officially belongs to WB, but what does it mean?

The WB-Odisha fight over rosogollas

Two-and-a-half-years after starting its battle, West Bengal has emerged the winner in the 'who owns rosogolla?' question.

Chennai-based Geographical Indications (GI) Registry announced today that the signature sweet originated in Mamata Banerjee's state, not in Odisha.

WB Food Processing Minister Abdur Rezzak Mollah is "happy and relieved".

But what led to a legal battle over a sweet? Here's the story.

In context

The WB-Odisha fight over rosogollas

The history of rosogolla, according to WB and Odisha

WB and Odisha have long claimed the rosogolla. While WB believes it was invented by Kolkata confectioner Nabin Chandra Das in 1868, Odisha said it originated in Puri in the 13th century: the first avatar was the kheer mohana, which later became the pahala rosogolla.

The battle over a sweet takes a bitter turn


The battle over a sweet takes a bitter turn

In 2015, the argument took a legal turn. Odisha set up three panels to look into the matter: one to trace rosogolla's history, another to study WB's claims and their basis, and a third to collect documents to support Odisha's claim.

Then it declared July 30 as 'Rosogolla Divas'.

In 2016, Odisha applied for GI registration.

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What is this GI tag?

GI authentication certifies that a product belongs to a particular geographical location - a city, state or country - which indicates it has certain characteristics linked to the region: for example, traditional methods of production, or a certain reputation, or something else.


What does this win mean for Bengal?

Mollah clarified the battle wasn't over just the sweet, but one of "pride and identity for Bengalis".

The GI tag also often translates to commercial profits. Eg. Darjeeling claims the GI registration for Darjeeling Tea. It effectively means local tea growers can challenge the sale of a product branded 'Darjeeling tea' if it wasn't sourced from their gardens.

'Sweet news for us all'

So is this the end of the battle over rosogollas?


So is this the end of the battle over rosogollas?

This isn't the first time WB has obsessed over sweets. In 2016, the TMC and SUCI sparred over 'Joynagar Moa', both claiming credit for its GI tag.

Till then, "duplicates" were hurting thousands of producers.

However, Odisha won't give up easily. "We'll scrutinize the GI order" and hold talks with stakeholders, said Puri legislator Maheswar Mohanty.

What it actually does remains to be seen.

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