KOLKATA — West Bengal government is taking steps for formally staking claim to Rasogolla as the state's invention through the GI route at a time when the famous sweetmeat finds itself at the centre of a debate as to where it originated.
The Science and Technology department of the state government has started the process to approach its central counterpart for GI authentication of Rasogolla so that it is identified with Bengal.
Jagannath Ghosh, spokesman of 'Paschim Bango Mistanno Byabsayee Samity' and owner of a famous North Kolkata sweet shop, said it was conveyed to their delegation by Minister of State for Women and Child Welfare Sashi Panja on Monday.
Asked about it, the minister said, "Our Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee has asked us to do the needful for ensuring that Bengal gets its rightful place as inventor of Rasogolla.
Since Nabin Chandra Das had introduced the sweet in 1868, it is high time we don't allow others to hijack our heritage."
Director of K C Das Private Ltd, Sanjoy Das, the fifth generation descendant of Navin Chandra Das family, said it was historically known that the Das family had been the pioneer of Rasogolla, made from cottage cheese dipped in sugary syrup.
"With Rasogolla getting the legal seal of having originated from the city, the sweet can be showcased globally and there can be more R&D initiatives," Sanjoy Das said.
"On our part we had introduced automated machines at our Baghbazar plant from the day of hand-operated coal-guzzling boiler in 1868 introduced by Navin Chandra Das and in use for years. We brought new techniques of packaging tinned rosogollas which is taken abroad by Indian expatriates.
"But if there is a formal recognition of Rosogolla having originated from Bengal, we can go for patents also in future," he said on the sidelines of the launch of the book 'Rasogolla banglar jagat matano abiskar' (Rasogolla, the conqueror of world from Bengal) by a well known academician.
GI authentication is a name or sign used on certain products which corresponds to a specific geographical location or origin (e.g. a town, region, or country) which may act as a certification that the product possesses certain qualities, is made according to traditional methods, or enjoys a certain reputation, due to its geographical origin.
Sanjoy Das, whose K C Das is one of the leading sweet chains of the country, said there were plans to turn parts of the Rasogolla Bhavan, set up in early last century in North Kolkata, into a memorial where the history and evolution of Bengal's famous sweets would be depicted and the primitive tools like the boiler would be preserved for research purpose "to let the young generation know about our heritage".
Panja responded, "If there is any formal proposal on their part, we will consider. Entire North Kolkata is dotted with heritage places and our Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee always works towards preserving our heritage - buildings, artworks, even sweets -- everything. So we will not be found wanting if they come forward with a proposal (to preserve the Nabin Chndra das legacy and his Rosogolla).
"We have no fight with Odisha. Everyone knows Rasogolla is Bengal's product like Odisha's indigenous sweet is Chhanapora. Let all the states of the region work together to project our own indigenous delicacies and fight the battle with cakes and pastries," Das said.
Odisha has claimed that Rasogolla originated from the Jagannath Temple in Puri, where it is a part of the religious rituals, and has been a part of the same since the 12th century.