Dr. Mukund Naware
Like every story this story too has a beginning
Almost one month had passed since my return to Anand and then one fine day I received a direct message from the Chairman’s office asking me to meet Dr. Kurien at 11 am.
Surprised and wondering why am I being called to meet the Chairman I went to Dr. Chothani and told him about the message I had received. He gave me just a nod. He probably knew the purpose behind that message.
I went to Chairman’s Office five minutes before time. Shailendra Kumar (SK), who was the then Executive Assistant to the Chairman asked me to be seated. As I waited I could hear the Chairman’s voice in high pitch coming from his cabin.
No, it is not your turn
At 11 am sharp I thought I should go inside. SK also suggested that I could go inside the Chairman’s chamber.
But the moment I opened the door I heard the voice ..” No, it is Not your Turn.”
Taken aback I returned to my seat and waited for few minutes.
One more attempt by me and the same thing happened . “No It is Not your Turn.” This time his voice was high.
I didn’t know what to do. Then SK told me that Shekhar Roy was inside and Chairman was upset over certain issues. SK asked me to wait patiently till he got indication. I kept quiet.
Some more minutes and then I was called in the Chairman’s chamber.
Once inside I noticed the scene had completely changed.
And when it was my turn the unexpected happened
There he was the Chairman NDDB in altogether different mood welcoming me.
” Come on Dr. Naware, have a seat. ” he said. As I heard him I felt relaxed and honored. I sat in front of him.
” I am told you have worked under difficult conditions in Jalgaon. I want to put you in still difficult conditions. Would you like to go to Israel ? ” Dr. Kurien asked.
Somewhat surprised I remember saying “Yes Sir. I would love to go. I would like to see how they have developed Israeli Friesian breed of cows.”
” Do you eat beef ? “. ” Perhaps you may have to eat it there.
” Sir I don’t mind ” I said.
” But remember when you go there a war may be going on, bombing from the air could happen.” He said.
Probably he wanted to examine my reaction. But I was fearless.Then he narrated how Israelis and Arabs are brothers from the same clan but fighting for each others’ lives.
“In a war like situation I do not know whether you will go. But I know I recommend you. And if you go there meet the Dairy Chief of Israel, I forgot his name but get his name and other details from Shailendra.” He said and the meeting was over.
As I came outside I was in air. I straightway went to Dr. Chothani to give him the ‘news’. He was no doubt aware of it. He handed over to me the letter received from Indo-Israel Cultural Association, Ahmedabad requesting for deputation of one officer who could join a group of 15 persons whose visit to Israel was cleared at Non Govt. level by Govt. of India.
Dr. Chothani asked me to take steps to obtain Passport and undergo vaccination etc. The process began on the same day. I contacted that Association to obtain all the details. I personally went to Ahmedabad and handed over the cheque for required amount to cover the expenses. As suggested by Dr. Chothani I also met Shri Tribhuvandas Patel at his residence and told him about my visit to Israel. I was fortunate to have his elderly advice and blessings.
In the beginning our plan was to go there in November 77 and accordingly I made all preparations. But due to extreme weather conditions in Israel the visit was just postponed. As the next schedule of departure was unknown NDDB decided to transfer me to the newly opened Regional Office at Bangalore. From there I was to go to Israel and I was looking forward to it.
Travel to Israel
Finally it was on 26th April 1978 that our group boarded Alitalia Jumbo Jet flight from Bombay to Tel Aviv. It took about five hours to land there in the morning. Our group (2 ladies and 14 gents) comprised a Professor, School teachers, a Librarian, a Commercial Photographer, a Director of a cooperative bank, few Progressive farmers- one prominent dairy farmer in them- and two College students. I can say I only had technical background.
On arrival we found that a large size bus had come for us at the airport. Person who had come to receive us was also driving it. Within 30 minutes we reached Mishmar Hasharon, a kibbutz 30 km north of Tel Aviv. This was the place of our stay for next 35 days and the Kibbutz was our host. We were there as volunteers willing to work for 6 hours a day and they would offer lodging, boarding and limited travel in return. On the first day we didn’t understand all about that but the things became clear day by day.
In Hebrew Kibbutz is commune. At that time in Israel typically a kibbutz had 150 families staying together on the land obtained on long lease. The families with common country origin joined there and agreed to work 8 hours a day doing every kind of work as may be required in rotation. In return the kibbutz offered them complete housing, food, clothing, medical aid and children’ education till matriculation on the basis of equality. The kibbutz had common kitchen and the food cooked there was for the whole community and no family expected to cook at home. The kibbutz would manage lands and undertake agricultural farming, dairying, poultry, horticulture, floriculture, fish pond, horticulture etc and as they progressed they would diversify into commercial activity like manufacture of furniture, electronics , animal feeds, drugs etc. Between number of kibbutzim (plural) the transaction was on barter basis with adjustments for each give and take . At apex level each kibbutz became member in the Federation of Kibbutz Movement which would settle matters between members.
This Federation also undertook those activities which a single kibbutz was unable to do like running Colleges, Hospitals, Cattle Feed Plants etc. A family could join kibbutz with no entrance fee and could not take away anything if they left. In kibbutz there was no currency involved and it was a cashless society. At that time there were 250 kibbutzim in Israel. The Government classified them as Cooperative Societies.
A unique cooperative arrangement for 24X7 cooperative living round the year. It can be said that only Israelis can do that !
Our kibbutz Mishmar Hasharon was established by Polish immigrants who spoke Yiddish language. They had 200 acres of land on lease and they were growing oranges, grape fruits, cotton etc, had a fish pond with carp fish, a nursery growing saplings in pouches, a poultry farm and most importantly a commercial bakery supplying daily bread to over 100 kibbutzim.
Kibbutz population was around 450 and they used to take volunteers up to 150 during harvest time. Other attraction was that the kibbutz had Hebrew teaching school (Ulpan) where volunteers would receive tuitions in Hebrew language that qualified them to get admission in the University there. The kibbutz had mechanized laundry, excellent community kitchen (fully mechanized) and a big dining hall. Only six seven persons working there cooked food for entire kibbutz. The meals were Vegetarian, non vegetarian and for Diabetic people.
During our stay we all were assigned various duties. Sometimes the whole group worked together like harvesting oranges from trees using aluminum ladder and cutter with a bag on the shoulder. We removed weeds from cotton field. I worked in bakery production line and cleaned its chimney by sand paper. One day I went in a van to deliver bread at number of locations. I worked in nursery shifting the saplings from one place to other. I cleaned poultry house. We all worked in dining hall for clean up and arranging tables for next meal. It was incredibly different lifestyle and many of us learnt dignity of labour there. To go round the places for professional gain I volunteered to work in night shifts.
During our stay we dined as we liked. We were lodged in a barrack and provided with camp cots, bed sheets, blanket etc. We had access to their swimming pool also. In community dining hall they held cultural programs and film shows in the week end. We participated in all those activities.
I enjoyed living in Kibbutz and getting familiar with the social life and the way economic activities were structured among kibbutzim. I was keen to add to my professional knowledge but to have exposure to any professional learning it was necessary for me to take immediate steps. Dr. Amrita Patel had told me to contact one Dr. Pipano in Veterinary College, Tel Aviv and to get the details on Theileria Vaccine developed by him.
I had to do something and explore possibilities of exposure to professional learning.
I had to make headway somewhere. I sent a post card addressed to the Dairy Chief of Israel and sent it to Tel Aviv not even knowing exactly where that office was. I also posted a card to Dr. Pipano at Veterinary College, Bet Dagan.
To my surprise on the very next day by 10 am a telephone call was received in kibbutz office. The person working in office was surprised. I was called from the work place. The caller from Ministry told me about my post card and invited me to their office in Tel Aviv and also gave the details of how to reach there. The caller also spoke to the office person and he must have asked him to guide me.
Yes, I had broken the ice.
Next day I went to Tel Aviv before time and found the building where office was located. I had no problem whatsoever and at 10 am I entered the room of the Dairy Chief. There was one more person sitting by his side. When I said that I am from NDDB that is chaired by Dr. Vergese Kurien there was good response from the boss ” Well that’s familiar name ! ” he said.
Then they exchanged few sentences in Hebrew and asked my interests. Then and there they finalized our group’s visit to Tel Aviv Dairy and also to Tel Aviv station of Hebrew University Jerusalem. They also noted certain places where I alone could go separately. For me the meeting was most fruitful.
In next few days our entire group visited Tel Aviv dairy that was handling one million liters of milk per day at that time and had just introduced fruit yoghurts. We went to Hebrew University one afternoon and spent time in Horticulture and Water Management departments since the farmers in our group had specific questions to ask there. For both these trips our kibbutz gave their bus.
My solo visits
Now about my solo visits to various places. As stated earlier in order to make such visits possible I worked in night shifts and obtained permission each time. The kibbutz management was also generous to respond well and helped me by telling how to reach to those places.
1- Veterinary College Bet Dagan :
In response to my post card the Veterinary College informed me that Dr. Pipano was abroad and on his return I could expect a call from him. It really happened one day as Dr. Pipano himself spoke to me over phone and fixed my visit to his department. He showed me his laboratory where he had raised different species of ticks for vaccine production. He gave me number of research papers authored by him and expressed willingness to supply a thousand doses of Theileria vaccine to India (via Australia) which according to him could have been effective in India. I was overwhelmed by helpful nature of this great scientist who was pioneer in that vaccine. ( I understand that later on this offer was turned down by Government of India).
2- Israel Cattle Breeders’ Association :
One afternoon I visited the office of ICBA in Tel Aviv. Tsvi Marks, the manager had sent me a letter giving each and every detail as to how to reach there. We had discussion at length about how the Israeli Friesian breed was developed and how average production level of 8000 kg per cow per year was achieved by selective breeding, rigorous culling and maintaining the national herd of cows at one lakh five thousand only. He gave me a copy of their book titled ‘ Dairy Farming in Israel ‘ (which is still with me as a souvenir).
3 -AI Centre, Saarid :
One day I took a long bus ride and was out for more than half a day to visit the kibbutz named Saarid which was running Artificial Insemination Centre for Israel North. I only remember that a very old Veterinarian was managing it and they were freezing bull semen in form of tablets and not in straws.
4 – Animal Disease Control Office :
One day I went by public bus to northern city Hadera to meet one Dr. Aharoni who was the Cattle Disease Control Officer of Israel. He gave me lot of information as to how the tick borne diseases were controlled by traditional method of passing animals through dips and of late by vaccinating them. However, according to him many dairy farms there needed better hygiene.
Although I visited the above mentioned places I felt it necessary to visit some dairy farms as well so as to get a first hand feel of the way dairy farms were run.. As our kibbutz did not have a dairy farm I had to visit other places and look for dairy farms. The dairy farms that I was able to visit were small with 30 or 40 cows, fed scientifically with complete feeds and machine milked. They also had technical advisory service for issues related to feeding and breeding of animals.
We were in Israel only for 35 days. Within that period I could cover these technical aspects. Kibbutz also made arrangements to show us Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Dead Sea.
Every story has an end
All above in just 35 days. With this rich experience I returned to Bangalore in early June.
I sent my Tour Report with all the details to Head Office. When it was put up to Dr. M. N. Menon, Ex Animal Husbandry Commissioner (GOI) holding Chair for Animal Husbandry in NDDB ; his reaction was …” How it can be ? Nobody can go to Israel ”
But I had been to Israel in 1978 !
Contributed by Dr Mukund Naware NDDB 1972 – 1986. He spent five years in field and was in RO Bangalore, for more than eight years. He was also Manager (Procurement) for F& V Project, Mother Dairy, Delhi during 1985-1986.