Tell them “I am not God” said Dr Kurien
The Jalgaon Milk Union, Jalgaon was covered under Operation Flood Programme in the year 1974.
The Union was among first ‘18 Anand’s identified under Operation Flood -I programme. The Jalgaon Milk Union was chosen purely based on buffalo milk production in that area. Since ages, “Khandeshi Ghee” was famous in that part of northern Maharashtra.
Shri. Madhukarrao Choudhari who was a veteran congress leader in that area had made special efforts and talked to the Chief Minister Shri. Vasantrao Naik for inclusion of Jalgaon project under OF-I programme. Luckily, there was no government dairy established in Jalgaon which made it easier to bring in Jalgaon Milk Union under OF-I programme.
The Dairy Development department officers from Government of Maharashtra were always opposed to NDDB’s programme.
In one of the meetings, Shri. Padmanabhayaa – the then Dairy Development Commissioner had angry exchanged words with Dr. Kurien.
Shri.Padmanabhayya, a Senior IAS officer, argued with Dr. Kurien that why was NDDB asking for marketing support to Jalgaon milk Project, when he always talked about self reliance. Dr. Kurien retorted “Only if you could hand over one of the three Mumbai Dairies to NDDB we would make Jalgaon Milk Union viable within no time” . However, the government never handed over its dairies to NDDB.
The Jalgaon Milk Union started with great enthusiasm with deployment of NDDB’s team leaders such as Dr. M.L. Naware, Shri. N.B. Washi, Shri. V.G. Patil. I was also one of the team members.
After withdrawal of NDDB’s team in 1976, there were series of NDDB sponsored high ranking, stalwart, officers such as Shri. R. D. Patel, Shri. A.K. Datta, Dr. M. L. Naware, Shri. B. K. Garg, Shri. D. Relan, Dr. Abraham Joseph etc.
There were some government officers also who took over as Managing Director. Despite NDDB’s support and supply of funds and manpower, the Board of Directors could not run Jalgaon Milk Union as was expected from them.
As a state coordinator of NDDB, I continued to be on the Board of Jalgaon Milk Union. During the chairmanship of Dr. Madhavrao Bhauji Patil, the union’s position was so bad that the union was slowly going to the stage of liquidation.
The situation was so serious that, the staff did not get salary, and they were sitting on hunger strike in front of District Collector’s office. The Jalgaon Milk Union which was collecting earlier about 4 lakh liters milk per day was now collecting only 8,000 lit. of milk per day. The union was about to be closed.
The then Chairman of Jalgaon Milk Union requested me to arrange meeting with Dr. Kurien in Anand. I sent a request to Dr. Kurien’s office and he agreed for a meeting.
The Board of Directors of Jalgaon Milk Union and myself went to Anand. No sooner Dr. Kurien entered the room, the Chairman, Jalgaon Milk Union started touching feet of Dr. Kurien, and said that for him Dr. Kurien was like a God, and he had come to Anand to request NDDB to rescue Jalgaon Milk Union.
As usual, I was translating what Chairman Jalgaon Milk Union was saying to Dr. Kurien.
Dr. Kurien was in his usual mood. He turned towards me and asked me to translate what he was going to say in Marathi to the board of directors, which was rather difficult.
I still remember Dr. Kurien was saying “Tell him, I am not God, My feet are also made up of clay”. Somehow, I conveyed to him the meaning of what Dr. Kurien was saying.
The meeting went on for a long time, but at the end, it was decided that NDDB would give only one senior officer who would make efforts to turn around the JalgaonUnion. NDDB would not give any subsidy to Jalgaon Milk Union. The board of directors of Jalgaon Milk Union would not interfere with the working of Managing Director deployed by NDDB. The board of directors of Jalgaon Milk Union agreed all the conditions of NDDB.
Thereafter, Dr. Abraham Joseph was deployed as Managing Director of Jalgaon Milk Union, and later Shri. B. K. Garg, Shri. D. Relan were posted as Managing Director. Within a span of four years, all the losses of about Rs. 30 crores were wiped out, and the Jalgaon Milk Union became viable.
It started procuring two Lakh litres of milk per day and the employees were getting salary regularly.
That day, in the meeting what Dr. Kurien said was quite true. No sooner the NDDB took over management of Jalgaon Milk Union, the employees started creating troubles. But it was handled with iron hand, and the organization was saved.
Dr. Kurien used to read peoples’ mind, at the same time, he had heart of lion, and therefore, he continued to support Jalgaon Milk Union despite there were so many odds and hurdles.
Ultimately, he proved his point.
Today, Jalgaon Milk Union has once again become viable and is doing well.
If you manage the organization with passion for farmers and if you heart and soul is in running the organization, then nothing would happen wrong, and the organization would always succeed. That was the “management ‘Dr. Kurien’s style”.
Contributed by Dr. DV Ghanekar NDDB 1974- 2009 and Kolhapur Milk Producers Union 2009 continuing