A day with Dr V Kurien at Pune in 1992

I was deputed to meet Dr Kurien on arrival at Pune airport in 1992. He came to Pune to deliver Kale Memorial Lecture at the invitation of the Gokhle Institute of Politics and Economics.

One reason probably was that Dr. Kurien did not like a NDDB officer to come to airport to receive him.

However, occasion was such that we felt that he may need help to reach the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune. Those were days when GPS was not operational. He was accompanied by his wife Mrs. Molly Kurien.

Mrs. Poonawala, Chairman, Alfa Laval had also come at the airport, Pune.

Looking at me, Dr. Kurien told his wife rather sarcastically in his typical Kurien style “Here comes a NDDB spy, NDDB guys do not leave me alone, they want to know what I am doing in Pune”.

I could only smile and look sideways sheepishly.

I told him that I have come to show him direction for reaching the Gokhale Institute, Pune, and further, I told him that, the Chairman, Katraj Dairy, Pune has invited him to visit Katraj dairy, which he readily agreed.

He always wanted to be connected with milk producers and was very keen in knowing what is happening at ground level.

We first, went to Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics , where he gave long speech on ‘Agriculture and Rural Development In 1990’s and beyond : What should India do and why ?’

The audience was spellbound by his oratory and his usual extempore Kurien style delivery. His description of Anand Pattern, how he developed it in Anand, his usual indirect sharp comments on IAS officers and bureaucracy and his pro-farmer views, etc. were applauded by the audience.

Later, we moved to Katraj Dairy. Dr. Kurien was very relaxed and casual with the board of directors of Katraj Dairy. He was very friendly with them. He went around the dairy which was by his standard, a small dairy. He listened to their demands and promised them to help.

Board of Directors of Katraja Dairy requested some funds which, we NDDB officers had not agreed.

But, Dr. Kurien said that he would look into the matter. While returning, he asked me why NDDB was holding funds to Katraj Dairy. I explained him the reasons.

Though he agreed to my views, he suggested that NDDB should find ways to help them. On returning to Mumbai office, I spoke with Dr. E. Madhavan and we did our best to help Katraj dairy to come out of their problems.

That day in 1992 during his visit to Pune, I could see many aspects of Dr. Kurien’s personality.

In one moment, he was a caring husband, whereas in front of erudite Professors of Gokhale Institute, he spoke about development philosophy and action and yet in another setting at Katraj dairy, he was a friend of milk producers, very sensitive to their needs and was ready to be flexible to meet their aspirations.

A very powerful leader with great sensitivity for the cause of milk producers that was our Dr V Kurien.


Contributed by Dr. DV Ghanekar NDDB 1974- 2009 and Kolhapur Milk Producers Union 2009 continuing

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