RK Nagar accompanied by Dr RP Aneja visited Tamilnadu in late seventies. They met the legendary Mr. TN Sheshan who was then Agriculture Production Commissioner, Tamilnadu. The purpose of the meeting was to plan for Operation Flood II in Tamilnadu. Nagar has written about this meeting with Mr. TN Sheshan . RK Nagar now narrates his story of planning for Operation Flood II in Andra Pradesh.
I was packed off on a 3 state tour soon after I returned from my vacation. The first stop was Andhra. Based on what I had learnt with Dr. Aneja in Madras, I was very confident that I will manage to get the states agreement on districts to be covered under OF-II.
My first meeting was with Mr. Daljeet Arora, IAS who was the MD of the AP Dairy Development Corporation (APDDC). He very warmly welcomed me and addressed me in a very friendly manner in punjabi. When I replied in Hindi and told him that I do not understand punjabi, he was very disappointed. He asked me, “you are not from Punjab? Where are you from?”“Rajasthan“, I replied.
With this his tone and mood changed. Mr. Arora had the reputation of being a very tough officer who always had his way. I was for-warned so I knew that he would come up with some difficult proposition.
And that’s what exactly happened. “Mr. Nagar, either whole of Andhra will be under OF-II or there will be no OF in Andhra”. He opened our meeting with this statement, in fact he delivered the verdict.
I explained to him how we have to follow a viability criteria and select 100 districts across India that offer the best potential to create viable milk producers’ cooperatives. And that we will have to analyse all available secondary data and provisionally select districts that make the cut. Out of these we will make an all India list of selected districts. I am therefore in no position to assure as to how many districts from Andhra will find place in the final all India list.
He responded, “You may carry out the exercise, but remember my words. It is either whole of Andhra or no OF in Andhra. Now it was my turn to get up from my chair. I rose, extended my hand shook hands with him and told him, “Sir, in that case we will forget about Andhra and consider potential districts from other states that are willing to participate according to viability criteria.”
He was not prepared for it, but then he couldn’t go back on his stand either. So our meeting ended in just ten minutes. I returned to my hotel and was mentally getting ready to leave for Bhubaneswar after two days. I was prepared to spend the waiting time working on secondary data that I had carried with me for Orissa and West Bengal.
In the afternoon, I received a call from the office of the Secretary Dairy Development, GOAP. The secretary, Mr. S K Rao wanted to meet me and the meeting was fixed for 5 pm. The officer, Jaswant Rao from APDDC coordinating my visit was to pick me and take me to mr. Rao’s office. Naturally he had to be a part of the meeting.
Jaswant Rao briefed Mr. Rao on our meeting with Mr. Daljeet Arora in Telugu. It was obvious that the report of my disastrous meeting with Mr. Arora had reached him and Mr. Rao was willing to show how open AP was to have OF II in the state.
Mr. S K Rao was a very seasoned bureaucrat. We talked for about half an hour about everything other than OF in Andhra. He was a very well read person with a very deep understanding of Gita and other scriptures. In between, he showered me with a generous dose of Sanskrit shlokas. Thanks to my background, I could understand a fair bit of what he was saying and that helped establish a rapport between us.
He closed the meeting with a very simple statement. “Mr. Nagar, please look at the data we have provided you and let me know tomorrow which of the districts offer the best potential. We will meet tomorrow afternoon. I suppose it will give you enough time to complete your analysis”.
I met him the next day around noon with the analysis and presented the list of districts that offer the best potential for inclusion under OF-II. Now it was his turn to get a shock.
“What, no Medak, no Khammam, no Anantpur among shortlisted districts?” A horrified mr. Rao asked. “No sir, none of these come anywhere near the selection criteria”. I answered. There was pin drop silence for about 3-4 minutes and it felt like eternity.
I finally broke the silence and asked, “is there anything special about these districts”, I pretended to be naive.
“Medak is the constituency of PM Mrs Gandhi, Khammam that of CM Shri Narsimha Rao and Anantpur is the district of Shri Neelam Sanjeev Reddy, the President of India. Can you do something to include at least two of them?”. He asked.
This was tricky. I was not entitled to make these kind of concessions. In fact a concession at one place would have meant submitting to political pressures everywhere and end up with pan India selection of low potential milksheds. This would have been disastrous for the program.
I very firmly but politely declined to consider his request. I told him that the criteria for selection of milksheds and political constituencies were different. I could do something only if there was some commonality in selection criteria of milksheds and political constituencies.
That afternoon Dr. Aneja was to arrive in Hyderabad along with Shri Animesh Banerjee the then Regional Director NDDB, Bangalore. We were to have a final meeting with Shri Rao in the evening. I met them at the airport and briefed him about what had transpired so far on our way to Mr. Rao’s office for a late evening meeting.
I was relieved that the ‘trouble shooter’ has arrived, but was equally anxious to know what his move be like. Mr. A Bannerjee as the regional director was very anxious and wondered if we will miss out on a major state of the region.
Since Mr. Rao was caught up in another meeting, our meeting finally took place at night over dinner. During dinner, Dr. Aneja and Mr. Rao huddled in a corner for about ten minutes, had some serious conversation and joined us back -all smiles.
Dr. Aneja signalled to Shri Bannerjee and me conveying’ that it’s all buttoned up’.
We were all happy, but only Dr. Aneja knew what card he had played.
When we reached the hotel, he asked me for a map of AP and asked me to shade the selected districts. He then pointed out that among the selected districts there were some that shared a boundary with Medak, Khammam and Anantpur (MKA).
I didn’t get what he meant.
He then picked a pencil and shaded MKA in diagonal lines to make them a part of the adjoining selected districts, making them two district milksheds and added that potential villages from these 3 districts would be covered during second phase of OF II, meaning thereby that villages only from a couple of adjoining talukas that can possibly be linked to a milk collection route will be considered for organising milk producers cooperative societies sometime towards the fourth or fifth year of the program.
And this detail was not for the consumption of politicians.
Call it, “ Have the cake and eat it too”. I had learnt another brilliant lesson.