Shathe Shathyam Samacharet
If the situation demanded autocracy, I gave it autocracy.”
―Dr. Verghese Kurien, I Too Had a Dream
Producer owned organizations are democratic organizations. Anand Pattern Dairy Cooperative structure is also a democratic structure and can be defined ‘as an organization of the milk producers, by the milk producers and for the milk producers.
This, no doubt is true. But it is also equally true that unless and until such organizations are supported by qualified and competent professionals they would fail in realizing their objectives. This applies across the structure of Anand Pattern Dairy Cooperative Organizations be it at the village level, district union level or at the state federation level.
In my long career with Dairy Cooperatives I have noticed that elected Board Members at times become arrogant.
This feeling has deep roots in this false belief that since the Chief Executive has been appointed by the elected board and the Chairman and they, being one of them, they have all the powers to decide and guide the management on every issues including the day-to-day working. In simple words, interference in the working of the management not restricting themselves to policy matters which is their exclusive domain to take a final call.
The District Level Milk producers Cooperative Union Board members are elected by an electoral college comprising Chairmen of village level Milk Producers Cooperative Societies in the District. In order to get elected, they have to take support of as many Village Dairy Cooperative Society ( VDCS) representatives as they can muster.
These VDCS representatives include the Chairmen, Secretaries and some farmers each of whom have some influence in their own village as well as in the surrounding villages. It is due to this factor that the VDCS people develop a feeling of a king-maker.
This is the root cause of their getting a feeling of arrogance.
Let me describe one among many experiences of dealing with such situations.
I joined a District Milk Producers Cooperative Union (DMPCU) as its Chief Executive. Immediately after joining I faced a very hostile atmosphere. The DMPCU is responsible for collecting milk from VDCS, processing and marketing and providing technical inputs for milk production enhancement.
I had in the past handled many hostile VDCS people. My immediate task was to streamline the functioning of the VDCS or else milk flow from VDCS to Dairy would have got adversely affected. In fact, milk flow was otherwise also highly irregular.
I thought out a plan to streamline the working of the VDCS. I started having one on one conversation with those employees who were not directly engaged in milk procurement work.
My logic for doing so was that we had most of the procurement staff who were freshly appointed. They were primarily recruited by the NDDB on behalf of different State Level Milk Federations. After their appointment by the respective State Federations, they got trained by the NDDB at various established training centres and milk sheds. However, on final field deployment, they found that the things were very tough. Even getting their salary on time was not assured.
This contributed to their developing a hostile attitude towards the very organization they were deployed with.
My belief is that one must check for facts and ongoing operations with the persons directly responsible for the function but counter-checking with persons working in other sections helps a lot. Employees working in any section are generally critical about the working of the working of the other sections. As a result, one learns a lot many things including shortcomings which are unlikely to come out in conversations with employees directly responsible for a particular function.
After having had conversations with employees I engaged in conversations with some identified persons from among the farmers’ representatives, i.e. Board members and then with procurement staff and finally with VDCS people.
These identified persons were supposedly known to be the persons who were pro-management. By talking to them I could gather substantial information for drawing a course of action for streamlining the working of the VDCS.
I decided to corner and confront a few of the trouble makers from the VDCS. I collected all their details and prepared the “Kundali” or “Janmpatri”.
I then decided to catch hold of one trouble maker who I found was the front-runner.
As mentioned earlier, these kind of people think and believe that whether it is right or wrong, they would get things done using the influence they have on the elected board members. .
Then the real-life drama happened. The trouble maker whom I was planning to corner was also one of the VDCS secretaries and very close to most of the elected Board members including the Chairman.
Anyway, I analyzed the pros and cons and found that there is no alternative than to corner this trouble maker.
I was initially hesitant in calling for discussions any employee who is not a Sectional Head. However, I changed my tactics. I felt that if I call a person below the Section Head and working under him, it would give a sort of good feeling to the person I talk with and he would feel elated too.
I thought of not involving any of the Sectional Heads in executing my plan and to go all by myself.
I did this because I thought that the matter being very sensitive, my efforts may go futile if my plan of action gets leaked which will bring a bad name to me. Finally I thought of taking into confidence the store-keeper.
I sent him a message, not through any employee, not even through my PA but through one of my local confidants. The store keeper was told that he should meet his Chief. The place indicated was neither my office nor the residence but a place in a town some 15 kms away.
The store keeper was clearly told not to disclose this to anyone, not even his family-members. He reached at the identified place which was the residence of one of my relatives. I had told my relative to treat him nicely and offer him tea some eatables.
I purposely delayed my arrival. When I reached my relatives place and met the store keeper I could guess from his expression that he was not comfortable. I engaged him in some small talk and it took a while for me to make him comfortable.
He slowly started talking freely and responding to my questions. I asked him about the VDCS Secretary who was main trouble maker. He opened up hesitatingly and shared with me about the talks and wrong doings of the trouble maker.
I was surprised to find that some of the senior staff members were also among supporters of that trouble maker. I explained to the store keeper as to how such trouble makers cause harm to the very organization that they are supposed to be a part of. He also agreed and then told me more names of such people. I asked him to suggest me a way to get rid of such people. This made him feel a bit elated and he opened up further and I listened to him intently.
I then shared with him what he was supposed to do as per my plan. I did, however, not tell the store keeper what I had actually planned. I told him that the help I needed from him is to inform me when that trouble maker reaches the store keeper’s office that day. I wanted the store keeper to tell me over phone that the trouble maker is sitting in his office once he reaches there.
This was difficult since it would not have been possible for the Store keeper to talk to me over phone in the presence of the trouble maker. I therefore told the store keeper that all he needed to do was to simply dial my direct phone number and when I pick up the phone he may disconnect as if he could not connect to the desired number and also keep the trouble maker busy in small talk for some time. The store keeper agreed to what I suggested.
He then returned to office so as to be on time. I also came back to my residence.
Why did I choose the store keeper and nobody else? The simple reason for this was that the store was farthest from the main gate and it would have allowed me some time to comfortably reach the main gate and organize things which I had planned.
On reaching my residence, I called the Security Incharge, a retired Army Officer, who was very active-smart and loyal to me. Only thing I told him was that today at some point of time I will call him over the intercom and when I do so he should without any delay, lock the main gate and ensure that no one is allowed to come in or go out unless I permit him to do so. I also told him to keep few things ready in his time office.
The full plan was not shared with anyone. The store keeper and the security in-charge were told only the part they had to play. Not a bit more than what they had to do.
So that day a little after the mid noon my intercom rang. There was no voice and I understood the signal. I immediately gave a call to the security in-charg. He acted fast and locked the main entrance as planned.
People standing or moving people near the gate noticed the closure of the main gate. They must have found it as unusual to close the main gate at that time. Then this news spread very fast. Very soon a number of people gathered near the gate.
I also reached the main gate. People sensed that something unusual is going to happen. Within no time, sensing something unusual, that trouble maker society secretary also reached the main gate. To his utter dismay, he found that the main gate was locked.
My presence there was another surprise for him.
By then people around must have been thinking that something very unruly and unpleasant was going to happen.
That trouble maker started shouting at the security staff and wanted to jump-off the main gate. He was not allowed to go out. He then moved towards me and started showing his might through his words and body expression. He was threatening me of dire consequences. He said to me that I should behave and be in my limits or else he can go to any extent. I just kept listening to him for some time. A large crowd of people from within the campus had gathered. Even the passersby on the other side of the main gate stopped on the road and became mute spectators. People inside also were simply watching this real-life live drama. They were in a state of shock and expected that something in very bad taste is likely to happen.
Now, it was my turn. I started hurling all such abusive words on the trouble maker which no one would have even imagined in their dreams that I could really utter. It was all with the intention of humiliating that very trouble maker publicly. Listening to such abuses that too in public further offended the trouble maker.
In the meantime, I asked the security in-charge to bring a rope and a thick stick (Danda). I ordered that the trouble maker be tied up to the mango tree near the gate next to the time office.
Once he was tied he was beaten by sticks. Not only the trouble maker but all present were shocked to see the happenings. No one would have imagined that their Chief can go to this much extent in real life.
People around, finding me to going to such an extent, got excited and then started shouting maaro-maaro. And finding no support from anyone around that trouble maker finally surrendered.
He with folded hands publicly started begging for life.
My purpose was only to humiliate him publicly and for giving moral boost to staff members thereby sending a message to all such arrogant people to behave or else they would also be treated the way the Dairy had seen that day.
The trouble maker was then asked to give a written apology, a sort of confession of his misdeeds.
He wrote an apology. This apology was then got countersigned by over a dozen of the spectators, most of whom were his supporters. Quoting his apology, a notification was issued and sent to all the VDCSs mentioning that the entry of this person inside Dairy premises is banned. The VDCS Chairman of his milk society was also informed about his misdeeds. Our field staff was also instructed and finally he was removed from the secretary-ship of that VDCS.
And this was yet another incidence in my long career which proves that WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH, THE TOUGH GETS GOING …..
Acknowledgement by Dr Manubansh : It would not be fair on my part if I do not acknowledge the inspirations I drew from our dynamic leaders like Late. Dr.A.A. Chothani and Dr.Jagjit S.Punjrath