ODISHA GOVERNMENT FORMED A COMMITTEE TO FINALISE THE PROCESS TO APPLY FOR GEOGRAPHICAL INDICATION (GI) STATUS OF OUR MOUTH-WATERING ‘RASAGOLA’:

After one year of deep slumber, Odisha government formed an eight-member committee to finalise the process to apply for Geographical Indication (GI) status for the mouth-watering dessert Rasagola. The panel was constituted on Tuesday and the first meeting is scheduled to be held today. The eight-member panel headed by Industry Director and comprising of two from Science & Technology department, one from Industry, Culture, Agriculture departments and OUAT as members will look into the process to apply for the GI status for Rasagola. The Additional Director of Industry department has been appointed as the convener of the committee. The ongoing war between Odisha and its neighbouring state West Bengal for patent over Rasagola had started two years ago. The Bengal government has already applied for the GI status for Rasagola with the National Biodiversity Authority to claim Rasagola had its origins in the state. Both West Bengal and Odisha governments are claiming that their respective state is the place of origin of Rasagola, which is made from Indian cottage cheese. Earlier, Odisha government had asked its Science and Technology department to apply for the patent as well as the GI tag for the syrupy delicacy. A committee set by the department conducted thorough research on origin of Rasagola and finally concluded that the sweet had its origins in Odisha. The research cited that Rasagola existed in Odisha since 15th-16th century as it has been mentioned in the ‘Dandee Ramayana’. Despite historical proof and evidence about origin of Rasagola, the state government did not proceed further to stake the claim that sweet had its origin in Odisha. Eminent Jagannath cult scholar Asit Mohanty has already submitted a 100-page report claiming that the confection originated in Odisha. In the report to the state government, he contended that the sweet’s reference was found in Dandi Ramayana, a version of the epic adapted by Balaram Das in the 16th century.  The report claimed that the sweet was being offered to gods in mutts and temples for over 600 years. Mohanty refuted the argument of Haripad Bhowmik of West Bengal that cottage cheese belongs to Bengal as they learnt the technique of its preparation from the Portuguese. He said traditionally, Rasagola is offered at the time of Niladri Bije, the ritual in which the deities are brought inside the temple from the chariots on the concluding day of the Rath Jatra. Besides, the state government has decided to set up a Rasagola cluster at Pahala, on outskirt of Bhubaneswar, allocating Rs 7.70 crore to get GI status for Pahala Rasagola. Although, a common facility centre will come up at Pahala, the land is yet to be identified for the project. The industry department has decided to select land near Pahala, around 4-5-km away from the location. After indentifying the land, we will discuss with the IDCO for land possession for the project, said a senior official in the department.  The Odisha Sun Times Bureau : 2nd. Aug,17

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