ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Bitter Battle over a Sweet

Geographical Indication protection for the rosogolla fails to appreciate the nature of artisanal production.

In late July this year, Pahala, a small village between Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, found itself in the news. The village has been known throughout Odisha as the home of expert sweet makers. But things began to change in late July when the Odisha government asked the Cuttack District industries to obtain a Geographical Indication (GI) for the Pahala rosogolla. That set Odisha on a warpath with neighbouring West Bengal. Bengalis who prided their association with spongy, sugary balls made from chhaina—a cottage cheese made by curdling milk—viewed Odisha’s claim with some indignation. Almost immediately, the West Bengal government contacted the GI office in Chennai to repudiate Odisha’s claim.

Both sides summoned historians to their cause. Bengal reiterated its well-known claim that rosogollas were first made about 150 years ago by Nobin Chandra Dash—an entrepreneur from the state—while Odisha asserted that the sweetmeat had a far longer history in the state: it was apparently made more than 300 years ago as an offering to Lord Jagannath.

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