Remembering Shri Vinayak G Tulpule Experience and Intuition

RK Nagar
RK Nagar

RK Nagar wrote this blog about a month or so ago. We referred to him as “Tulpule Sab” or “Sir” during those early days at NDDB. He was one of the most “available” of our seniors with nearly 25 years of work experience before joining NDDB at a time when we youngsters had just started our careers.

We could talk to him for guidance on any subject related to work or anything to do with any thing that he knew of nuclear energy to human psychology and …… We would play dot and boxes paper pencil game, have a chat….and of course work and learn and deliver on time on the expectations from us with his help.

This morning of 28th March 2020 we got the sad news of passing away of Tulpule Sab on the night of 27th March 2020 from a Facebook post by Dr MPG Kurup who is currently in Toronto.

Most of old timers of NDDB miss Tulpule Sab and so would many others whose lives were touched by his kindness and generosity.

May Ishwar grant Tulpule Sab Sadgati

In my tribute to Dr. Michael Halse, that I posted under the title “ Michael Halse:My Real Guru”, I have mentioned about an exercise that we, the original team of the Management and Manpower Development (MMD) division did to churn out two basic documents on Operation Flood titled White Book Section-I and White Book Section-II in preparation for the Pre Operation Flood evaluation by a joint FAO-WFP MIssion in 1969.

Preparation of document for pre and post evaluation missions of Operation Flood I which was launched in 1970 was the responsibility of the Management and Manpower Development Group.

The picture on the right is that of members of the MMD Group, National Dairy Development Board, Anand was clicked in 1969. Tulpule Sab is sitting in the front row extreme right.

On the chair: Left to right:- MPG Kurup, Shailendra Palvia, Shailendra Kumar, VG Tulpule Standing: Left to right:-RP Aneja, RK Nagar, MN Vyas, JH Mehta, PV Mathew, Martin and AA George

The picture to your left taken in 2013 in Pune Tulpule ji is seen with Shailendra Kumar

In this context, a mention of Shri Vinayak G Tulpule becomes absolutely essential. Although he kept his tenure with NDDB very short, hardly 8-9 years, he left behind many admirers.

Here is something about the man, now close to hitting a delightful century of his existence on earth and lives in Pune, Maharashtra, that I can’t forget.

Most of us in the Management and Manpower Development Group (MMD) team had joined NDDB by mid 1969 or earlier and Shri Tulpule was one of them.

Tulpuleji and I joined a couple of months apart and bonded very well. While I was fresh from college and had joined NDDB soon after completing my college, Tulpuleji had at least twenty five years of professional experience behind him when he joined NDDB. He was a very practical man and used his vast experience to teach the young entrants to NDDB the nuances of practical dairy management. This earned him a nickname of “Gurudev”. For old timers like me, even today he continues to be our favourite “Gurudev”, even though it has been years since I met him.

In those early years there were not one but two document preparation marathons which happened a couple of years apart. Apparently different, these two marathons had a special ‘Tulpule’ connect.

The first document preparing marathon

The first one- per Operation Flood launch resulted in production of what we called White Book Section -I and Section -II. They were termed “White Books”, simply because the cover was white! It had nothing to do with “White Revolution” then. The venue for this marathon was NDDB Office on the fourth floor of Amul Admin building.

The team had very little time to conceptualise, formalise and gather information to answer the questions that the Pre-Operation Flood WFP Mission members might ask for. What we had were few feasibility studies, milk market studies and some techno-economic reports-all at various stages of drafts. But we had to meet the deadline as the FAO-WFP mission’s arrival was preponed and we had just 48 hours to complete the task.

This marathon was an accomplishment over non stop supply of Bedekar lonche, modern bread and tea to ‘fuel’ the team.

Dr Aneja, Dr Kurup, Tulpuleji and Mike were the main writers. We all were in supporting role dealing with production of reports poly-copied on now antiquated but then very important “cyclostyling” machines,

While White Book Section-I -which has all the narratives was beautifully written by Mike our Editor in Chief,other reports to support it were completed by Dr Aneja and Dr. Kurup for Mike to do final edits, the responsibility to compile White Book section II which was all ‘statistical parameters and projections’ to support the project proposal (drafted by Mike) was given to Tulpuleji.

Here was Tulpuleji staring at formats in which the statistical information had to be provided. Except for limited access to livestock census data, which in any case was grossly inadequate to do any meaningful development planning, he had nothing to generate parameters on production and marketing of milk in 57 districts that were initially identified as potential milksheds in the first phase of Operation Flood. But these parameters as demanded by the evacuation mission had to be provided.

We were working under tremendous pressure and finally we had barely 24 hours to prepare our reports before the arrival of the mission, and here was Tulpuleji at work to do his part. And he did it !

Mike took poly-copied sets of sections I & II in to NID Ahmedabad early next morning to get them bound with the cover pages that were printed and kept ready at NID. The White books arrived back in Anand in the boot of one of the cars that brought the pre OF evaluation mission members from Ahmedabad airport to Anand. The mission members were unaware that the pile of literature -White Books, waiting in their rooms at the Amul guest house, had actually travelled with them from Ahmedabad.

Following the presentation by Mike, the mission impressed by the wealth of information and the statistics presented, recommended that NDDB carries out detailed milk market studies in the 4 metros and supply surveys in the 57 districts identified as potential milsheds and be ready with the results for the next review due in mid 1972.

This recommendation set the stage for second marathon.

The second document preparing marathon

The second marathon was done after we had moved into the NDDB campus. The pan India field work that lasted nearly 10 months was primarily handled by Shailendra, me and Nandi Naithani. While Nandi had joined us during analysis of a previous milk market study of Delhi, a new member who joined the survey team in Delhi was K J S Shekhon, who later became a regular member of the planning team in Anand. Data analysis was managed by a team of NS Mani and Nagraj (he had just returned from USA and dearly held on to his smoking pipe). Survey Data analysed on IBM computer at ORG Baroda became part of the famous 35 offset printed “Blue Books” that came out some time in April 1972. They earned the name “Blue Books” due to colour of covers. A standardised report format was prepared by Mike so that inter-metro and inter-milkshed comparison could easily be done.

We spent almost 5 months together doing the field work in the north covering Delhi and its hinterland milksheds in Punjab, UP, Haryana and Rajasthan. After which, we moved to the respective regions we were assigned. Whereas Nandi undertook the exercise in the eastern region covering Kolkata and milksheds in West Bengal and Bihar, Shailendra looked after survey work in Mumbai and Maharashtra milksheds. I ended up doing the fieldwork in the states of Tamilnadu and Andhra. Field work in Gujarat was handled directly by HO under Mike’s guidance.

Ten months of fieldwork meaning continuous travel and living out of suitcases was particularly hard on Shailendra who was barely begun his honeymoon. He was sent to field for our survey work barely two months after he landed in Anand with Kiran. Although they got to spend next five months together in Delhi, but with family.

We had barely completed the last blue report- Bombay milk market study-only statistical part, over a candle lit overnight mini marathon session, that Shailendra received the good news- his son Tutul arrived on the scene on 1st April 1972.

So for Shailendra, the surveys started with marriage and ended with fatherhood! Wow!

The entire fieldwork ended by March-April 1972. All three of us had to singlehandedly look after all aspects of the survey work right from recruiting investigators and survey supervisors, training them, supervision of the field work, cross checking of a sample of interviews done by investigators, secondary data collection, analysis, sampling and the administrative part including payments to field staff, maintaining accounts etc.

The data painstakingly collected from thousands of households through gruelling fieldwork lasting almost ten months ( that taught me how to live out of suitcases for a long period jumping from one hotel to another), was analysed and the parameters were generated. We were now ready to face FAO-WFP mission with projections that we had made based on the real parameters that we had ourselves generated. We were oozing with confidence.

Experience and Intuition combined to create magic !

The parameters that our marathon fieldwork lasting over 10 months generated were amazingly so close- almost 95% to the ones Tulpuleji generated on that night out of his head during the first marathon done about two years ago!

We were taken aback by the survey results and wondered how come Tulpuleji could be so accurate in his projections? Was it his experience? But then he had all along worked only in Maharashtra, so how come his projections were so close for other states? Was it pure intuition that made him sit in that corner on that fateful night and guided him? Today, even after half a century I am at a loss to figure out what it was. But to his credit he saved the day for the entire team. And I say this with total conviction.

We lost touch after he left NDDB. But I have an inkling that he returned to work on a project that was close to his heart. Believe it or not, it was the ‘goat milk cheese’, that his heart was stuck on. He had produced some goat milk cheese on some small scale for a small entrepreneur before he joined NDDB and was convinced that it holds a great future. This was all at a time when except Amul, no one produced cheese in India and dairy technologists who had studied in advanced dairying countries often described processed Amul cheese as a piece of soap.

Some years ago, sitting at a pizza joint in USA, I came across goat milk cheese based specialty pizzas, and relished them. That day I suddenly remembered Tulpuleji. I wish I had a chance to sample goat cheese that he made in India. A goat milk based pizza in India, in those days would have been a wonderfully delightful experience.

That is him. Wishing him a life full of happiness, great health and smiles.


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