Bhubaneswar: A barrage of social media banters which gained steam with the Chennai-based Geographical Indication Registry awarding its decision in favour of ‘Banglar Rasogolla’ two days ago, the tug of war involving Odisha and West Bengal has hit a new low.
While Bengalis across the country have erupted into celebratory mood with all guns blazing over their ‘sweet victory’, Odias are left justifying and clarifying as to what the issue actually is for no apparent reason.
In the meantime, the media with all its might is busy analyzing, opining and debating across newspapers, prime time slots on television and on all digital and social media platforms about who had the upper hand and who was left to lick their wounds after a so-called bloody tug-of-war.
A recent article titled West Bengal vs. Odisha: Whose Rosogolla Is It Anyway? published in a website called Arre, has decided to unleash an overload of despicable mockery, bordering on prejudice based on regional bias on Odisha.
Read the Arre article here: Whose Rosogolla Is It Anyway?
It seems that the writer of this article was in a sugar rush amidst the bombardment of all rasagola news while penning down this piece. The purported magnanimity in the article shows Odisha in a poor light and belittles the Odia pride.
We, as Odias, are not sitting ducks and capable enough to offset unrequited intrusion on our identity by unethical journalism.
The article begins like this…
The GI recognition that Banglar Rasogolla received, does not mean that Odisha has lost its claim to the syrupy delight. What the author failed to notice is that the Rasagola battle is a term coined by the media and is completely out of place because when Bengal claimed a GI tag for Banglar Rosogolla, Odisha did not contest the claim. What Odisha was battling for is for its own Rasagola with its origin in the pre-12th century.
The author asks questions like…
Jagannath temple is the religious site that sees more Bengali devotees’s footfall in a year than the tally of honeymooners in Goa, thus making Puri, the holiest of Odisha’s religious sites, just another holiday destination.
The ‘poorer neighbour’ the article refers to has registered a gross state domestic product (GSDP) growth rate of 7.94 per cent in 2016-17, surpassing the average national rate of 7.1 per cent.
The post labels Odia cuisine to be average-looking and creepy:
The “creepy” cuisine of Odisha includes the chhapana bhoga and mahaprasad of Lord Jagannath that Bengalis devour like a starving Edward Michael “Bear” Grylls on an episode of Man Vs. Wild. Moreover, please do not be delusioned that the showstopper dessert of Odisha, chhena poda is baked Rasagola. Chhenapoda takes hours to prepare and that too with focused precision of ingredients, unlike the squeaky and rubbery Banglar Rasogolla.
Next time, you want to make a comment on pakhala (not pokhalo), make sure to include an Odia in your research team. Chutneys are for dosas, not pakhala; just like music plagiarism is for R D Burman and Pritam.
Of course, the author had to take a dig at Odisha for being a disaster prone state…
Odisha simply doesn’t have pot. It also has Subhas Chandra Bose and Jayadeba. The same Subhas Chandra Bose who was born and raised in Cuttack in Odisha and whose parental residence has now been tranformed into a museum. The creator of Gita Gobinda, Jayadeba’s place of birth was in Odisha and he spent his life in Puri, devoted to Lord Jagannath. Furthermore, talking of cultural heritage, Bengal may have Rabindra sangeet, but Odisha has the classical dance form Odissi. Talking of Odissi, Bengalis never forget to chest-thump at the mention of Dada (Sourav Ganguly). Incidentally, his wife is an Odissi dancer who sought a guru, not in Kolkata, but here in Odisha.
From the above post, it is Bengalis who should be taking offence at the comparision of the great Rabindranath Tagore to someone much younger and incontextual, just like England would, if someone juxtaposed Shakespaere with Purna Das Baul.
Odisha may be prone to natural calamities, but we also remember Geography teacher talking about the great Bengal famine of 1943 and the flood prone coastal state it is. To boast of the research that has gone into writing this article, we are listing the natural disasters that have struck Bengal from 1737-2009: Kolkata earthquake of 1737 that killed 0.3 million people, severe flood and Teesta earthquake in 1787, 1942 Medinipur cyclone where over 10,000 perished, cyclone Bhola of 1970 where nearly 500,000 people lost their lives, floods in 1978, 1985, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2000 (4 million marooned), 2002 (11,000 displacements), 2005 (affecting 3000 villages), 2007 (affecting 10.8 million people) and clyclones in 1999, 2006 (50 killed), and 2009 (149 killed).
And finally, the author concluded by saying…
If you meant bigger literally, Odisha is twice larger than West Bengal in terms of demography and if you meant figuratively, you are talking about the state that resorted to suicidal potato economy and stopped the tuberous crop’s supply to Odisha and Jharkhand creating a crisis.
We, in any way, do not intend to castigate West Bengal and its citizens for this distasteful piece of writing which has evoked unsavoury reactions from digital content consumers. We just want to call out upon the people involved in churning out the piece to adhere to quality and responsible journalism and not resort to demeaning a community, just for the sake of attracting eyeballs on a trending topic.