Odisha losing battle over Rosogolla to West Bengal is fake news

A debate has been going on for around three years now over origins of Rosogolla (however you may want to spell it, but it should sound sweet), and both West Bengal and Odisha claim that the syrupy dessert originated in their respective states. Both the states have formed committees to bolster their own claims and historical documents in support of respective claims have been put forward from time to time.

Yesterday, this debate took an interesting turn when West Bengal Chief Minister shared a ‘sweet news’ on Twitter, claiming that Bengal had been granted the GI (geographical indication) tag for Rosogolla:

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 providing quality assurance and uniqueness. Various natural, manufactured and agricultural products are awarded these tags by the government, which as a result of the tag may also command a premium price in domestic as well as international markets.

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So has the debate been settled? Has West Bengal won and Rosogulla has now been officially assigned Bengal as the geographical origin?

That’s what the entire media thought had happened after Mamata’s tweet, and soon this news was reported by everyone as victory for Bengal and loss for Odisha, leaving bitter taste in the mouth of many Odia people.

Google news snapshot over Rasagulla news
How the Indian media reported after the tweet by Mamata Banerjee (screenshot taken at 11 AM on 15th November 2017)

This ‘victory’ of Bengal over Odisha is now being reported by international media too:

But OpIndia.com brings the ‘sweet news’ to our Odia readers that the news about them losing Rosogolla to Bengal is fake. Media did not care to find the details and reported only a half-truth.

Mr. Chinnaraja G Naidu, Assistant Registrar of Trade Marks & GI, speaking exclusively to OpIndia, confirmed that the claims of Odisha losing to Bengal in any legal tussle were misleading and wrong. In fact, the Geographical Indications Registry had not issued any GI tag for “Rosogolla” at all. The tag that was issued was for “Banglar Rosogolla” (or Bangla Rosogolla).

Naidu rued the way the news was being reported, which could create ill will between communities. He also commended OpIndia for trying to find out the details and not falling for the mistake that rest of the mainstream media has done.

So in all probabilities, the mainstream media was misled by the tweet by Mamata Banerjee that did not clarify that the GI tag was given for a special variety of Rosogolla that West Bengal produces, not for the overarching term “Rosogolla” itself. Odisha too was free to apply and get a similar GI tag for their own variety, which incidentally Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has revealed that the state will now do.

Patnaik said that Odisha government is in process of obtaining GI tag for ‘Odishara Rasagulla’ which dates back to 800 years. Mr. Naidu, Assistant Registrar of Trade Marks & GI, said that their office will grant the GI tag if the documents produced in order satisfied the requirements.

“We have a civil court status, but there was no case where Bengal won and Odisha lost,” he once again clarified, hoping that the media will report the facts without causing any confusion, or worse, ill will between Bengali and Odia people.


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