Critics checkmated !

Operation Flood, worlds largest dairy development programme was implemented in three phases. The Final Evaluation Operation Flood -I ( 1970-1980) was undertaken by a World Food Programme / European Economic Community Mission in 1981.

Dr V Kurien Chairman NDDB was informed by the Government of India, the dates of visit of the Mission for terminal evaluation of Operation Flood I.

Dr. Kurien insisted that since it is the final evaluation of Operation Flood I a representative from Indian Dairy Corporation / National Dairy Development Board should be a shadow member of the Mission to facilitate Mission’s visits to the selected Operation Flood sites and provide, wherever possible, any information on the spot which the Mission may ask for.

Both Government of India as well as the World Food Programmar agreed to his proposal. Dr. Kurien and Dr. RP Aneja the then Secretary, NDDB proposed my name as a shadow Member of the Evaluation Mission.

Evaluation Mission comprised Dr. Jasiowroski (Direcor of Agricultural Research Institute, Poland) as Leader, Mr. Dawson, Director, World Food Programme, as the Deputy Leader and Dr. Mogens Jul, Mr. Twomy were the two others as members.

Before the Mission arrived in Delhi, we had a few internal meetings at Anand to prepare ourselves with answers to every possible question which may be asked and in particular those which various critics of Operation Flood namely Dr. Claude Alvares, Dr. Shanti George, Dr. Bavisker etc., had raised in their papers.

I was advised to stay in the same Hotel where other Mission members were booked.

Evaluation Mission first of all called on Secretary (Agriculture) at Krishi Bhavan. At this meeting itinerary of the Mission was discussed in detail. Mr. Dawson drew attention of the Secretary (Agriculture) to the strong criticism of Operation Flood which had appeared in Indian print media and he said that the Evaluation Mission would like to examine if the criticism was true or false. Though Dr. Jasiorowski was the official Leader, Mr. Dawson seemed to be calling all the shots.

First meeting of the Mission was held in the evening at the Hotel before Dinner. I entered the Meeting Room well before time but found that all the members of the Mission were already present and noticed a set of zerox copies of papers with each member.

A cursory glance around convinced me that each member of the team had been provided with a set of papers relating to criticism of Operation Flood. I could clearly see a copy of White Lie by Claude Alvares with them.

At this meeting after discussing a few question about the itinerary of the mission, Mr. Dawson raised a few questions about criticism of operation Flood which I answered. Next day a copy each of question asked and NDDB’s reply with facts and figures was provided to each member. This was made a practice through-out the itinerary of the Mission.

The Itinerary covered only selected northern and eastern Operation Flood states which were mutually agreed upon. Evening meeting was scheduled almost every day. At almost every meeting, Mr. Dawson would raise a few questions about criticism of Operation Flood, which were answered with facts and figures.

After visiting project areas of North, the Mission reached Calcutta. Dr. Kurup, the then Executive Director joined us in the Mission as an observer. Among other visits to the Project Areas, Mission visited Sikkim and its one Cooperative Society at the height of some 13000 feet. The visit was an eye opener as one of the Mission member remarked that if a dairy cooperative society can be successful at such an isolated location it would be successful anywhere in the country. Mission members interacted with the farmers, consumers and a few opinion makers in every Project area. Almost all the members, excepting Mr. Dawson seemed to quite satisfied with their visits as farmers,consumers and opinion makers were found to be happy with Operation Flood everywhere. However, due to Dawson factor no member seemed prepared to make any remarks in favour of Operation Flood.

Meeting at the Calcutta Hotel where we were staying was scheduled after dinner. Dr. Kurup and I had dinner in our room as we tried to work out our strategy for the meeting. But possibility of a favourable evaluation report appeared to both of us to be very dim due to Dawson influence over all the members.

We joined the Mission meeting. Dr. Jasiorowski in his opening remarks said that this was the last meeting before leaving for Anand and asked the members to ask what ever question they have. He looked at Mr. Dawson, who appeared to be in drunk state. He said that Dr. Kurien was a bastard and I am here to teach him a lesson. The moment Mr. Dawson made this remark, I said we can’t accept such a derogatory remark against Dr. Kurien for whom we have the highest regard. I added that we are therefore, walking out of this meeting. Dr. Kurup and I got up to leave the meeting room. Dr. Jasiorowski and Mr. Dawson tried their best to persuade us to stay back but we didn’t agree. As soon as we reached our room we phoned Dr. Kurien and informed him of this incidence. He said Chawla you have done the right thing.

As soon as we reached Anand, Mr. Dawson wanted to meet Dr. Kurien to apologise for his remarks, but Dr. Kurien refused to give him an appointment, but he agreed to meet Dr. jasiorowski alone before meeting all the Mission members. At the meeting, all the criticism against Operation Flood disappeared as draft Appraisal Report presented at the meeting was very favourable. 

I had to accompany the Mission to Delhi as Final report of the Mission was to be presented to the Ministry of Agriculture. At Delhi one more meeting of the Mission was held as a few modifications/alterations were proposed by some members. At the end of this meeting, Dr. Jasiorowski and Mr. Dawson presented to me a beautiful gift – a Chess Board made of Sandal Wood. While presenting it Mr. Dawson remarked “we were hoping to checkmate NDDB but we got checkmated. Next day I met Dr. Kurien at Anand and told him about the gift presented to me for the NDDB. He smiled and said Chawla you keep it because you deserve it.

Contributed by Shri NK Chawla former Executive Director NDDB


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