news Thursday, August 06, 2015 - 05:30
  Earlier this week, Rasgulla-lovers were faced with a surprising claim - the dessert could not be native to Bengal as we always believed. With historians and few others associated with the Puri Jagganath temple in Odisha stating that the spongy, delicious cottage-cheese balls dipped in sugar syrup were first served to Lord Jaggannath as a part of the rath yatra rituals since the 12th century, Bengali food historians and progeny of NC Das, who is credited with the invention of the dessert, are up in arms. The not-so-sweet battle is getting serious, with Odisha seeking a Geographical Indication tag for it. The GI-tag is a component of the intellectual property rights of individuals or groups. Indian government maintains a Geographical Indications Registry, which is a list of the GI tags which have been offered to those who have sought it based on the proof of their ownership. Geographical Indications of goods is defined as that industrial property which refers to the geographical indication from where the product is considered to have been originated. GI-tags are serious business, and patent owners take it very seriously. Once the GI is allotted to a product, the same product name cannot be used for products that are manufactured or grown outside the registered geographical boundaries. For example, ‘Kancheepuram Silk’ has a GI tag, so now no one can sell any other variety of silk with the label ‘Kancheepuram Silk’ which is manufactured outside Kancheepuram. Violation of GI tags is a punishable offence under the law. Reason enough for the Odiyas and Bengalis to get into a bitter battle of the sweet-dish. But guess what, it is not just the rasgullas. Indians are fighting over or demanding GI tags for several other famous products. From Hyderabadi Biryani to Kolhapuri chappals, here is a list of some of the GI applications which are pending at the Geographical Indications Registry.   Mangoes The GI tags of different varieties of mangoes are perhaps the most sought at tags at the GIR. At least five types of mangoes are in the list of pending applications. While the GI tag of Alphonso Mango from Ratnagiri is being sought by Director of Research, Dr. Balasaheb Sawant Konkan Krishi Vidyapeeth, Maharashtra, Rataul Mangoes, Devgad Mangoes, Banganapalle Mangoes and Salem Mangoes are also part of the list. The All India Mango & Fruits Development Association from Bagpat, Uttar Pradesh, Devgad Taluka Amba Utpadak Sahakari Sanstha Maryadit from Devgad, Maharashtra, Horticulture Development Agency from Hyderabad and Periyar University from Salem, Tamil Nadu have sought a GI tag on their respective variety of mango.   Hyderabadi Biryani Image: Wikipedia Commons/Nish1892 The ‘Connosieurs (sic) of Deccani Biryani Maker Association’ have filed a petition to get a GI tag for this legendry biryani from the Nizam’s city. The group has submitted historical evidence claiming that the Moguls brought the biryani to India to feed their armies and added spices from Hyderabad to make it the way it is prepared today. If the CDBMA has its way, you will have to travel all the way to Telangana to have what can be called a ‘Hyderabadi Biriyani’.   Kolhapuri chappals The ethnic hand crafted leather chappals are being claimed as products belonging to the states of Karnataka and Maharashtra. The GI application has been filed by the Central Leather Research Institute (Council of Scientific and Industrial Research) in Chennai. Kolhapur is a southern district of Maharashtra sharing its borders with Karnataka. These tough chappals are known to sustain extreme heat and the mountainous terrains of Maharashtra. A GI tag for Kolhapuri Chappal will permit around 8 districts from Maharashtra and Karnataka to have exclusive rights over producing ‘Kolhapuri Chappals’.   Gujarati Bandhani The Jamnagar Chamber of Commerce and Industry, representing the craftsmen of Kutch, has cited that the culture of Bandhani has its roots in the districts of Saurashtra and Kutch (or Kachchh). Bandhani falls under the category of a handicraft and is an ancient dyeing technique. The fabric is tied in intricate patterns with the help of nails, beads or grain so that during the dyeing process the color does not seep in through the tied areas. The Chamber says that the fabric is important for both Muslims and Hindus and is a must in their community weddings. The Bandhani dyeing technique was used in ancient Gujarat and Rajasthan. The case statement filed for Bandhani of Gujarat, giving a complete picture of the journey of this fabric and its dyeing technique, has sought a GI tag for the Bandhani for the region of Gujarat.   Agra Petha and Agra Dalmoth Image: Flickr/Laura The Petha Laghu Udyog Samiti from Agra has filed petition for both Agra Petha and Agra Dalmoth. Agra Dalmoth the spicier accompaniment of Agra Petha, which is a sweet, were traditionally served together to welcome guests, because it was traditionally believed that sweets and snacks should be served together. The story of petha goes that Emperor Shah Jahan once ordered his cooks to prepare a sweet which would be as pure and as white as the Taj Mahal and thus was born the famous Agra Petha. The case statement also adds that it was also prepared in front of the Noori Gate of the Agra fort which is named after Emperor Jahangir’s queen Noor Jahan. While Dalmoth is made from various dals and spices, Petha is prepared by a process called ‘Josh Lena’ with mature ash gourd and sugar syrup. If the Petha and Dalmoth get their GI tag then the sweet and spicy combination prepared anywhere outside of Uttar Pradesh will not be sold under those names.   Naga Cucumber The Directorate of Horticulture of Nagaland has claimed a GI for the succulent and elongated cucumber cultivated primarily by Naga farmers and used mainly in salads and desserts. The Directorate claims that around 90 percent of Naga Farmers cultivate this crop and a GI will boost their livelihood. The Naga Cucumber is used for pickling, salad making, and for medicinal purposes like indigestion and jaundice. The case statement justifies the ethnicity of this Naga by citing that poems and songs have been written about this special cucumber.   Mahoba Pan Uttar Pradesh is not just home to the Banarasi Pan but also the Mahoba Pans. The Chaurasia Samaj Seva Samiti from Mahoba, UP wants a GI-tag for their unique pan which is specially grown in Mahoba, UP. The documentation filed for the same includes Sanskrit texts. The petitioner says that the betel leaf used is a prime crop in the region and is famous throughout Northern India.   Dindigul Locks Image: Husain Kodinhi For those living in Tamil Nadu, Dindigul locks are more secure than the Godrej Locks. Known for their strength and longevity, these legendry locks are the subject of a GI application by the Dindigul Lock, Hardware and Steel Furniture Works Industrial Co-operative Society Ltd. The locks manufactured in Dindigul are sold in the national and international markets. The petitioners have claimed the GI on the basis of its quality, re-processing facility, key facility and attractiveness. Dindigul Locks are mango shaped iron and brass locks and the society claims that all the locks in the district are handmade and that each lock is unique in its design and style.   Kuthumpully Dhoties and Set Mundu The government of Kerala’s Handlooms and Textiles Directorate has filed a petition for their traditionally hand-woven dhoties and mundus, which fall under the handicraft goods category. The case statement filed traces the history of these dhoties and mundu to 18th century and says that it is prepared from cotton yarn. Kuthumpully Dhoties and Set mundu dates back to the 18 century AD as they were associated with the Royal Family of Kochi, says one of the documents filed for GI. The document also says that the Devanga Chettiar family was especially brought from Mysore to Kochi to weave exclusive dresses for the royal family.      Srivilliputtur Palkova A dessert made from pure milk and sugar, the Srivilliputtur Palkova, is the identity of Srivilliputtur in the Virudhunagar district of Tamil Nadu. Also called milk-pedha, the origin of the dessert, says a petition by Srivilliputtur Milk Producers Co-operative Society, is in this region. Srivilliputtur Palkova gets its unique taste because the makers do not use gas stoves and instead prefer nut shells and fire wood on traditional clay made stoves. Also the milk from the dairies located at the foot of the western ghats is used to prepare Srivilliputtur Palkova, so that it is rich in cream and taste.  

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