I was posted at NDDB, Anand during 1997 to 2000. At Anand, I was working under Dr. N. V. Belawadi in the Cooperative Services Group. This group was successor to the erstwhile Farmers Organisation(FO) Group. Like many other colleagues I too I had the privilege of having been a part of both the Groups.
While in the of Farmers Organisation our focus was on formation of cooperatives at village, district and state level, the activities of Cooperative Services Group mainly pertained to training of village level functionaries of milk cooperatives, empowerment of milk producers, management committee members, village dairy co-operative employees and especially organization of women milk producers for their empowerment.
In addition to these activities, our job was also to looking after the guest house & hostel, briefing visitors to NDDB, managing the library, up keeping of training facilities etc.
Whenever there was any important guest to visit NDDB Anand, a member of the CS Group used to receive the guest, brief him and show him around the activities of Amul, NDDB, Operation Flood programme etc. One of the crucial parts of the guests programme was to “Debrief” Dr. Kurien” about the guest; why the guest was visiting Anand and most importantly what questions the guest was likely to ask Dr. Kurien, when the guest would meet Dr. Kurien in person. This was the one of the most difficult tasks because as to how one could predict which type of questions the guest may ask Dr. Kurien.
On this particular occasion, one “Missionary” from Chattisgarh was visiting Anand. I was asked to accompany him. As usual, I took him to a nearby Anand Pattern village Dairy cooperatives society then to Amul dairy, and briefed him as usual about OF programme, Amul dairy, and NDDB. He seemed to be very impressed. He was particularly asking several questions about training to milk producers and how milk union could become viable in commercial activities. By now, I could guess that, when he meets Dr. Kurien, he would ask funds for training of milk producers and organization of milk union in Chhattisgarh. Incidentally, he was running a NGO which probably would have worked as the implementing agency for this initiative.
In the afternoon, before he met Dr. Kurien, I had already one meeting with Dr. Kurien wherein, I also debriefed about what the Missionary was likely to ask him. After listening to me, he said you should also sit in the meeting along with the guest aiding that NDDB would not provide any fund to a Missionary organisation.
The Missionary came at the scheduled time for meeting Dr. Kurien. For a while they talked about various topics and in the end, he asked for assistance from NDDB.
Dr. Kurien was a true Indian.
He was an Indian first and afterwards, a Keralite or a Christian.
Although born in a Christian family from Kerala, he would say “ I am a Gujarati and an atheist !”
To conclude, Dr. Kurien said that, NDDB had a mandate to help only co-operatives, and therefore, funds could not be made available for his NGO and at the most, NDDB could train some of his trainers, and that was the end of the meeting.
Some misguided zealots who erroneously think of him being partisan towards Christians must understand that Dr. Kurien did not have double standards.
He refused to grant funds to the Missionary organization and I was a witness to that.