I got an opportunity to work as a member of the NDDB spearhead team at Jalgaon (Maharashtra) from 1974 to 1976. This was the period when Operation Flood – I was under implementation.
This posting enabled me get a very good exposure into the workings of spearhead teams through which NDDB helped organise village level milk producers cooperatives in 18 milk shed of India, of which Jalgaon was one.
My leader Dr ML Naware Sir was an enthusiastic professional taskmaster who valued hard work and punctuality most. However, I was able to earn his trust within a few months based on my working.
I used to attend village meetings with him. I enjoyed working under his leadership. Other team members and I had on many occasions breakfast and tea at his house. My family members were invited for lunch at his home when I was transferred back from Jalgaon to Anand.
I also remember some names of other team members of the Jalgaon Team, including Shri NB Vashi Sir. He is at present Managing Director of Valsad District Milk Producers Cooperative Union Ltd. Vasudhara Dairy.
Vashi Sir had offered me a job at vasudhara dairy in the year 2014, but I missed working with him as my twin brother was admitted to hospital for cancer treatment. And it became necessary for me to be with my twin brother. I am glad that I was able to be with my brother when he needed my service.
Initially, we worked in Pachora Taluka reorganising milk producers cooperative societies. The milk producers cooperatives societies in Pachora were not working on the Anand pattern. There was no system for milk testing, and producers were not paid as per the fat content of milk. Milk Producers had to bring their buffalo to an open ground near the society. The milk cooperative society staff supervised the milking of buffaloes.
We had to stop this system. Under the Anand pattern, milk producers milk their buffalo at their homes and bring milk to the society collection centre. We introduced testing of milk for fat content, and the price of milk was paid according to fat content as per Anand pattern. The producer members were happy with the new system.
After about a year of field work veterinary routes were started for these societies every week. For organising this work Dr Joseph was deputed from NDDB Anand. Fresh /experienced veterinary doctors were recruited by the Milk Union for the mobile veterinary services. Dr Joseph returned to Anand on completion of his work after a few months.
Once the reorganisation of milk cooperative societies in Pachora Taluka on Anand Pattern was completed except for me, all other team members were shifted to other talukas for similar work.
My task was to undertake visits to societies for supervision. I used to travel to societies using vehicles operating on the mobile veterinary routes.
I was curious to learn buffalo pregnancy diagnosis and administering medicine to a Buffalo through injection.
One day I had a talk with doctors. I had seen the doctors treating buffaloes and diagnosing for pregnancy. I had closely observed the hard work they put for treating buffaloes.
I had passed the 11th Board exam (Old SSC) with science subjects and took admission into science college. I later changed the study line and joined a commerce college due to the inconvenience of State Trasport bus timing for travel from my village to the college. I also used to work with a milk producers cooperative society in the neighbouring village. The Commerce (B Com) degree came very handy in 1981 when I was absorbed from NDDB into GROFED as an accountant and thereafter I also got an opportunity to work as Executive (Finance & Accounts) with Mehsana Dustrict Cooperative Oilseeds Growers Union.
I had seen only natural service for breeding of buffaloes in my village. Artificial insemination of buffaloes for breeding was carried out in my village only from the year 1970 onwards. We had to take our buffalo to a bull in the neighbouring village for servicing, and it was a cumbersome task.
I once accompanied my father when he had take our buffalo to the neighbouring village for servicing. On reaching that village we found that the bull was not there. During the day time the bull moved along with the herds of other animals for grazing. We had to take our buffalo to the ground where the animals and the Bull were grazing. With the help of herdsman and much hardship we were able to get our buffalo serviced.
The artificial insemination services for buffalo & cows provided through milk producers cooperative socities with the help of district milk union and NDDB is a boon to farmers and has contributed greatly the development of dairying in the country.
I was curious to learn more about pregnancy diagnosis. So while on veterinary route one day, I expressed my desire to insert my hand into the buffalo’s body to diagnose for pregnancy. The doctor agreed and taught me the pregnancy diagnosis technique and how to inject a buffalo for administering medicine.
There after I tried my hand at pregnancy diagnosis several times while on a veterinary route route and the doctors had found my diagnosis to be correct. I also used to inject buffaloes for administering medicine.
I enjoyed the learning experience and the way I was able to satisfy my curiosity. I fondly remember this even today.
Dr Kurien was a fearless karmyogi and he never asked for anything for himself. I recall when Jagjivan Ram wanted a private dairy to be funded under Operation Flood (OF), Dr Kurien’s blunt reply was that it could not be done. Surely the Minister had wanted him to be sacked but could not because of the Prime Minister’s support for Dr Kurien.
Dr Kurien was blunt with the bureaucrats as well. Early in the implementation of OF, PN Haksar,a Member of the Planning Commission, asked as to why the project was not being implemented speedily. Dr Kurien’s reply was that the delay was because of him. Haksar was taken aback and wanted Dr Kurien to explain. Dr Kurien then mentioned that the approval for the setting up of the Mother Dairy in Delhi had been pending with the Planning Commission for a long time.
Haksar then asked for the concerned Joint Secretary to explain the delay. The Joint Secretary stated that he had some questions on the subject, like the use of stainless steel in the milk tanks at the bulk vending machines. At that time steel was being imported and we were short of foreign exchange. Dr Kurien then told the Joint Secretary that if he had questions why did he not ask? We have a postal system. He could have picked up the phone and asked. What had stopped him from asking these questions?
Dr Kurien then asked him the Planning Commission did not object to the use of stainless steel in the toilets in the Indian Railways. Why was he objecting to its use in milk booths now?
Dr Kurien then informed him that the tanks in question were to be made of fiberglass reinforced plastic. The Joint Secretary had not read the report. Dr Kurien then went on to question him if he was the Joint Secretary or the disjointed secretary. The project got cleared the same day.
Dr Kurien was just as blunt with the politicians. The Minister of Civil Supplies in the early ’eighties, V C Shukla, was withholding approval for NDDB’s Vegetable Oil and Oilseeds Project. The same minister’s staff had telephoned the General Manager of the Mother Dairy in Delhi to take back a driver who had been dismissed in a disciplinary case. Dr Kurien met the minister and explained to him as to how the project in question would make India self-sufficient in edible oils on the lines of the milk project. The minister did not seem to be interested in Dr Kurien’s explanation and nonchalantly told him to leave the proposal and he would go through it. Dr Kurien then asked him if there was anything on the minister’s mind, hoping the minister would raise the question of the dismissed driver. The minister did not say anything.
“Dr Kurien then asked him the Planning Commission did not object to the use of stainless steel in the toilets in the Indian Railways. Why was he objecting to its use in milk booths now?”
Dr Kurien then said, “Sir there is this question of a driver that you want to be taken back. Before I came to you I explained to the General Manager of the Mother Dairy that we need your approval to this Rs 300 crore project.”
“So why can you not take this driver back?”
Dr Kurien’s reply was that the driver in question was dismissed on serious charges. He went to the court and lost his case. He said, “If I take him back, I will lose the moral authority to run the Mother Dairy. My staff expects me to support them and that driver will not be taken back. You can now do whatever you want with the proposal before or after reading it.”
The minister was taken aback and slumped in his chair and said, “So what they say about you is true. I will support you but you will have to pay a price”.
Dr Kurien quipped back, “What is the price, Sir”?
The minister said, “You will have to help me manage the Asian Games”.
The next day we were at the Management Committee meeting of the Asian Games and I recall Eswaran, the then Finance Secretary, asking Dr Kurien as to what he was he doing at the meeting. Dr Kurien replied, “Maybe you have to drink milk to jump higher and run faster”.
There never was and never will be another Verghese Kurien who reigned like a Colossus over the dairy industry of India for over 50 years. He had the authority to rule over the industry because of his intense knowledge of the sector, his faith in the capacity of the rural milk producers and his selfless dedication to their cause. This was further strengthened by his persuasive powers to mobilize professionals from all walks of life to devote themselves to the noble cause of alleviating rural poverty. He used his immense charm to muster the support of policy makers as their contribution to this noble cause.
I first met Dr Kurien in 1957 when I was a trainee at the Amul Dairy at Anand in 1957. One late evening I ran into him at the gate of the dairy plant while he was waiting for a local politician to arrive so that he could show him the Amul Dairy. He enquired about our in-plant training and told me that he was waiting for a politician who wanted to see the dairy at that late hour before he boarded the Saurashtra Janata Express at Anand as he wanted to see as to how this dairy was helping the poor milk producers. Much later, Dr Kurien would often quote Jawahar Lal Nehru: “We were ordinary people and it was the nobility of the cause (fighting for the freedom of India) that rubbed on us and people thought that we were great, while we were ordinary people”. I was terribly impressed by Dr Kurien’s personality and charm.
A year later he was our examiner on dairy engineering and gave us all an assignment to draw a plan for a rural dairy plant. I had fever and therefore I finished the assignment as quickly as I could, handed over the assignment and went back to the hostel. I was later called back to the examination hall and Dr Kurien pointed out several flaws in my drawing. I was worried until he mentioned to the internal examiner, Sinha, that mine was the best drawing.
In the early 1960s, Amul Dairy was one of the many ways the dairy industry was being developed. Amul grew and evolved as a result of the professionalism of Dr Kurien and the political leadership of Tribhuvandas Patel who was its founder chairman. It was Tribhuvandas Patel who went to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel to seek relief from the unjust order of the MIlk Commissioner of Bombay State that gave Polson Dairy the monopoly right to collect milk from 19 villages around Anand. Sardar Patel then sent Morarji Desai to organize the milk strike that led to the formation of the Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Ltd (Amul Dairy). Tribhuvandas Patel and Dr Kurien were jointly awarded the Ramon Magsaysay award in 1963 for ‘Community Leadership’ for the path-breaking effort to organize dairy farmers into a viable cooperative.
When Dr Kurien needed some initial funds to set up NDDB, it was Amul Dairy under the Chairmanship of Tribhuvandas Patel that provided the initial grant to set up the NDDB campus at Anand. We were fortunate to be at the foundation laying ceremony of the NDDB campus byTribhuvandas Patel. A mouse appeared from the pit that was dug up for the purpose at the NDDB campus and Tribhuvandas Patel observed that a similar incident had taken place when the Amul Dairy foundation was laid by President Rajendra Prasad. The significance was explained by Tribhuvandas Patel that this was a great blessing and Amul never stopped growing. He wished the same for NDDB.
Till then Milk Colony Model based on Khurody’s Aarey Milk Colony had been replicated at Kolkata and Chennai. The Delhi Milk Scheme had started a new trend in large government milk supply schemes. There were also the private dairies concentrating on luxury milk products. The government milk schemes had virtually started a vicious dairy development cycle by resorting to the use of cheap (dumped) imported milk powder that was destroying the urban milk markets for the rural milk producers. When we learnt dairying at Karnal, the teachers would tell us that since the demand for milk was more or less constant throughout the year, we must produce constant supply of milk throughout the year by producing more milk in summer.
Dr Kurien had already realized that the surplus milk produced in winter that could be used in summer by conserving it as milk powder and that we should encourage more milk production even in winter since it was the time that farmers had more crop residues and natural herbage. That led to a much better model for dairy development, one which could flood the cities with rurally produced milk instead of India being dependent on imported cheap milk powder that wasimpinging on the growth of rural milk production. The era of milk colonies and government run dairies was over and a new king had arrived. It started with the fall of Delhi Milk Scheme which had run into serious managerial troubles. The Agriculture Minister, C Subramaniam, appointed a committee under Dr Kurien to look into the revamping of DMS. The committee took this opportunity to encourage the Government to relook at the way the sector was being developed. The setting up of the NDDB with most of its members from this Committee indicated the arrival of a new strategy for dairy development.
I joined the NDDB when I was told that its mission was to replicate the Anand model. Dr Michael Halse, who had impressed me at the courses that I attended at IIM Ahmedabad, had himself switched over to the NDDB. I was convinced that replicating the success of Amul Dairy was the way India should be going. Dr Kurien gave me whatever I wanted to join the NDDB and that started a fairy tale for me to work closely with Dr Kurien.
In 1972, I resigned from the NDDB following some false stories being carried to Dr Kurien. Heasked me the reason for my leaving and I explained to him how I was disappointed in his listening to all kinds of stories. I told him some plain truths in a most rustic manner as I thought it was a mere exit interview and that he could do nothing to me. Dr Kurien showed that he was a big man and he could take honest criticism. He asked me to repeat the story (and the choice of words that I had used) at the meeting of the Board of NDDB that was being held at that time. I did exactly that and after that he asked the members of the Board to let me go to Canada on study leave and that he wanted me back. He also told the Board that I need not sign any bond to return as he trusted my word. That made me come back.
Working with Dr Kurien for over 24 years has been a great blessing. He led from the front and was totally committed to the dairy farmers of India and showed the thoroughness that was needed to handle the tremendous challenges that we faced. He was able to muster support from the highest levels in the country and that helped in the successful implementation of OF. His real strength came from the farmers supported by professionals working for them. This is an unbeatable combination. I was lucky to have a ring side seat and watched events unfold as they did to make the country a leader in milk and milk products.
When I went to Karachi to prepare a dairy development plan on behalf of SAARC in 1996, our nodal point was the Industrial Development Bank of Pakistan. The General Manager of the Bank was not very enthusiastic about an Indian Team coming for this purpose. He narrated to us as to how “Indian spies were following him when he went to Delhi for a regional conference”. He said that he was however impressed by the milk booth outside his hotel in Delhi. When he went to see it he became keen to see the Mother Dairy that ran the booth. The Booth Manager then put him in touch with the General Manager of the Mother Dairy in Delhi. The General Manager arranged for a car to pick him up and show him the Mother Dairy and he was most impressed with it. He then mentioned to us that he could not believe the name of the General Manager as it turned out to be a Muslim gentleman by the name of N A Shaikh.
I then mentioned to him that Shaikh was an engineer who started his career as an apprentice engineer at the NDDB and that we had a Chairman, Dr V Kurien, who was a Christian. When he learnt that I used to be the Managing Director of the same NDDB, he warmed up and did everything that he could, to help with the SAARC study which recommended the setting up of a Mother Dairy for Karachi.
I hope the new generation, with all the technology that they now have at their disposal, will further our age-old values of honesty, sense of purpose, hard work and compassion. The guiding principle has to be “Love All, Serve All”.
Poverty in India is going to harm the rich almost as much as the misery it causes the poor. The rich are refusing to see the reality and are living in virtual bubbles. When the bubbles burst, the reality will dawn on them in the most horrific manner.
An overwhelming thought arose during my routine meditation today. And in the eyes of my mind I was pulled back for a while to about 5 decades to a time when I as a fresh college graduate from Anand veterinary College and joined NDDB.
I had recently joined and posted at NDDB Head Office in Anand undergoing training in Farmers Organisation and Animal Husbandry Department.
When I recall that incident it plays like a movie scene in the eyes of my mind.
One day as Dr Chothani entered the hall were our department people had their office desks he saw me sitting on my desk.
He lost no time and started bombarding a volley of questions. “Why of is this fellow sitting in office? What is he is doing here?” . These questions were addressed to every one in the hall.
It was my first such experience of open verbal firing coming from the boss . I got scared and wondered what would be my future in such a fearful climate. A climate where senior talk openly like that !
But that wasn’t the end.
Pointing at my reporting office Shri NG Trivedi, Dr. Chothani went on “How is he competent to train field people?” And then he walked into his office cabin.”
There was a hush of silence for a while.
After a while Shri Trivedi, perhaps in order to bring some normalcy and calm me down, as a protective measure, decided to give gave me ten minutes to refer and be prepared for a written examination in Milk Cooperative Society Management.
Some how I prepared myself and took up the challenge. After joining NDDB I was slowly learning that tasks can be given at very short notice and one has to perform treating each assigned task as a challenge. A challenge stood in front of me!
I secured 72 Marks. That made my boss happy. He then went on to explain to Dr Chothani about my skills and competence !
A number of questions loomed in my mind. Why the display of such dreaded toughness in a boss? Why was he so heartless while admonishing me and Shri Trivedi in front of others?
While pondering over the incident , it occurred to me that it was a situation in which the boss wanted to teach a lesson that survival requires impermeable toughness !
Do or die , there is no other option ! If we think over more we have more empathy with such bosses as they were foundation stock of most challenging implementation of systems under Operation Flood Program ‘which required to take and swear toughness to get work done from people without considering too much about the emotional element.
Such bosses are just work on a sparkle in their mind ,whatever solution comes they implement immediately as perhaps they have no second thought!
Such an approach may work in a situation that calls for tough actions in times of tough opposition. But is that a sustainable strategy to get work done and achieve overall goals ?
Such toughness displayed by bosses induces and is more likely to create a tradition that is followed by others to work in the same manner.
Bosses who follow of traditional “tough” approach learnt from their earlier bosses, show “artificial” toughness. They hardly smile. Their sole hardware is their brain and logic. Heart is treated as a barrier and thus all emotions are kept aside !
Such “tough boss clones” neither live their own lives nor allow others to live theirs.
Such bosses do not like a relaxed work place atmosphere as they do not entertain such thoughts. They have only seen a tough and angry shouting bosses as if the house is always on fire,trying to find remedy by inducing fear ,suppressing people’s emotions and thus the potential of people always remains in slumber as they have hardly any interest to interact with such whimsical people!
When I was in Regional office Delhi with a novel task of as board director in a Rajasthan Milk Union, I always tried to get my my work through persuasion considering the overall situation and thus my task was easy but the “clones” were not happy and kept asking me why am I not aggressive? This was in contrast to the prevailing atmosphere wherein other “clones” would loudly talk about their “accomplishments !”.
Like an “artist” I used to work from my heart ! I was made cultural secretary keeping in view my past at NDDB HQ, were I was actively participating in organising garba during Navratri festival!
Now this was not liked by the “clones of tough bosses” who had hardly experienced the emotions from the heart ! They would tell me “What kind of activities you are taking up ? Leaves this all” May be jokingly but with sarcasm was visible !
I don’t have a black and white answer for this dilemma
I have experienced approach of “toughness” and thought it was right in that phase of early years at NDDB practiced by some of the “foundation stock” and in later years also by the “clones of tough bosses”.
However, it would appear that the “clones of tough bosses” learnt the technique but applied it without any consideration to the prevailing circumstances.
Was Dr. Chothani a typical theory X boss? Or Theory Y boss? The answer is that he mastered both approaches and based on the situation he used one approach or the other. The “clones of tough bosses” learnt only the toughness and were oblivious of the prevailing situation while deciding their approach to tackle an issue.
I wrote an email to all those who participated in the meeting thanking them for their presence and their contributions.My email message and reactions, suggestions received from many of them are given below.One of the many high points during this emotion filled virtual meeting, like last time, were the songs by Dr Hemendra Joshi. There was a surprise too. Participation by Dr. GB Shukla.
Thank you so much for your time and for contributing to the interactions ( बतकही, बतकुच्चन ऐंड कुछ नोंकझोंक) at the “2nd Virtual Vrikshamandir Zoom Baithak” held on 6th September 2021 at 700 am and 730 pm ( India Time).
We missed many of you who had shown interest to join.
– Shekar Roy had sent me a message a day earlier and shared the sad news of death of his daughters mother in law and regretting his inability to join. May she get Sadgati.
We also got the sad news of passing away of Shri Kailash Vyas firmer MD Amul and Mrs Nair. Our condolences to the bereaved families.
– Rajan messaged to say earlier in the day to inform that a relative of his was hospitalised and that he needs go and attend and would not join.
-MK Sinha called on whatsapp while the meeting was going on. He was not feeling well so excused himself from joining. We all wished him and hope that he gets well soon and is ready to join the “3rd Virtual Vrikshamandir Baithak” after a fortnight.
After that there was no news from him despite my repeated calls and messages. I am glad to inform you that I spoke to him earlier today. He has moved from Haridwar to Noida and is staying with his son Shishir. He feels a little weak but was in good form and we had good “old men talk” ( Added 10 September )
– Siddiqui too sent several messages about the difficulty in connecting but despite sending him link again things did not work out.
– Mrs Manchanda messaged me after the meeting was over and regretted her inability to join due to health issues.
– SBS Senmazumdar joined but we could neither see not hear him. He later called me on WhatsApp saying he saw all of us and also heard a part of our conversations. He made comments on my beard. (अच्छानहींलगरहाकाटदीजियेनहींतोट्रिमकरवालीजिये।मोदीजीसेकंपिटीशनमतकरिये” ! ) I accepted the advice that I have been receiving from my wife, sisters and children and after Mazumdar’s “counselling” this time and I got my beard trimmed.
You might notice another gentleman in the picture on your left. He is a friend who lives close to our house. A friend whose ancestors originally migrated from India to British Guiana. He moved to Canada at the age of 18. Sitaram ji is a devout Hindu and has a murti of Bhagwan Shiv at the entrance of his house. He was looking for a rudraksh and I am glad that I found and gave him one rudraksh out of the three that my father had given me.
The next day when I met him I found that he had put the Rudraksh in the middle of the mala of beads around his neck. I could not resist but ask him for a picture and he agreedd.
He does not know from where his ancestors came from India to British Guina but has been going to India and travelled to Varanasi, Prayag, Ayodhya, Haridwar etc. I propose to write a separate blog on my friend Sita Ram. ( Added 10 September)
I have not heard from others who wanted to join but could not do so for whatever reason.
I need apologise for the inconvenience caused to some of you for the difficulty in connecting due to my error in sending link and password etc. .
Internet connectivity, other commitments and the confusion I caused in sending confusing messages and link for the second meeting have been the major causes that came in the way of many of you joining the meeting.
My apologies again. I have learnt a lesson and going forward would be careful.
We had 9 participants each at the two meetings including some who attended both the meetings.
I am not disappointed at the small number who joined at the meeting as I had stated during the first meeting the principle guiding these Virtual Zoom Baithaks are;
– Whosoever show up for the meeting are the right persons
– When the meeting starts is the right time
– When tge meeting ends it ends
And if something good and concrete comes out of it as a result of such interactions It is Gods Gift 🎁
Therefore, I have no regrets and with a deep sense of gratitude thank the “divinity” that resides in each of us ( those who participated as well as those who could not make it) for the opportunity that I got to be of service as a Sutradhar to bring my former colleagues whose “young lives” mattered and who contributed in their own ways in making NDDB of the yore achieve many its objectives.
I would be grateful for your comments, suggestions and most importantly your feelings after attending the meeting. I would like to do a blog by collating your inputs and upload it on Vrikshamandir.
Looking forward to hearing from you,
PS: As suggested by Kishore Motwani I am not sending this mail to you as bcc but addressing each of you so that you all have each other’s emails. I am marking bcc copies to 11 others who had indicated their desire to join but could not and also not sent any message.
Dear Shailendra Sir,
8 September 2021
Thank you for your emails with slides and innovation list .
I was wondering whether it is ok to add following two to the list
1. Encouraging and assisting HMT to set up dairy machinery manufacturing facility and subsequently IDMC as a wholly owned subsidiary of NDDB- with a view to break the monopoly of milti-nationals in dairy equipment and machinery which was required visualising the growing demand of the dairy industry
2. Initiating reforms in cooperative legislation- A model coop Act (drafting and assisting the planning commission’s committee; partnering with cooperative development foundation (CDF) and assisting a panel of Eminent cooperators including Dr. Kurien. With this initiative AP Govt was the first to enact a parallel legislation for self reliant cooperatives (over10000 coops in AP are under this Act.
Dr. Kurien also envisioned a level playing field with other corporates for coops and articulated in several forums about the need for bringing about the powers of RCS on par with those of Registrar of Companies and had also proposed to the Govt amendment to Companies Act providing incorporation and regulation of Cooperative Companies. But this became a reality only much later (2002) with Producer Companies legislation becoming a part of Companies Act
8 September 2021
Yes please we need add, delete, modify the list. As I said the list is not “cast in stone”. Also we all are getting old and memory loss is natural. Though in some cases ( like my father) he would remember his past so clearly but not the present. Towards the end he would not even recognise me. He had Alzheimer’s.
In my case at 75 I notice that I forget details of many incidents of the past but if some one gives a hint I remember.
Both the points you mention are important and noteworthy.
Unfortunately the last meeting due to various reasons did not go as expected. Dr Naware and I had planned to spend more time discussing the list that is why in the slides I inserted blanks to take nots but did not get to that important task and it remained blank 😁🙏🏼
May be in the next meet we focus on the list. Rajan too has suggested some additions.
Marking a copy to Dr Naware to keep him in the loop.
7 September 2021
Thank you very much Shailendra Sir. It is so nice to see the passion with which you have taken up this initiative. Would it be possible to share/email the slides you have prepared? If I understood correctly, you would be putting together anecdotes/important and interesting incidents of the period -1965 to 1998. Best regards Belavadi
Yes, I think by keeping the timeline for collecting important and interesting incidents / anecdotes as 1965-1998 we would cover the period Dr Kurien was at the helm of affairs at NDDB.
I am attaching the PowerPoint slides that I shared in the meetings of 6 September. I am marking a copy of this mail to all others who participated in the 6 September Zoom meetings so that they too are privy to our conversation and get the power point slides. I am also sharing the list of 50 innovations that Dr Naware put together some years ago.
As of now I am not sure about final shape of the stories and anecdotes that get collected would be available for people other than us to see. I keep fingers crossed and hope that we come out with something worthwhile.
I would rather wait and how many and what quality of stories and anecdotes we finally get. I will take a call in consultation with the group that has volunteered to be a part of this initiative.
8 September 2021
Following innovation may be added, if deemed fit:
1. Selling of Blended Vegetable Oils.
2. Sale of Vegetable oils in TetraPack weight basis.
Our ARD lab at NDDB had also developed,
1. choclate bricks for milch animals —— name Minimole ( by late Dr. George kunju )
2. Mumra chikki (Natraj Murthi ) which was a supplement for the weaker section marketed through Ttribhuvandas Foundation ooutreach project.
I am not sure if any of these products developed by erstwhile NDDB colleagues find any place or recognition or mention in today’s NDDB
7 September 2021
As always both the meetings were great. It was nice to see Prusti saab & Dr Motwani after ages. Dr Nawre Saab’s presentation was precise & he explained subtly about NDDB innovation.
I would volunteer for writing anecdotes pertaining to implementation of OF 2 in Aurangabad district of Maharashtra.
There are some stories about Board meeting of Baroda Dairy where I represented NDDB . Probably these stories are post Kurien Saab’s tenure.
I may not be off target stating that NDDB’ s Women Dairy Leadership Programme was a sort of innovation particularly in a male dominated society in rural India. The programme was initiated when Dr Kurien saab was NDDB Chairman. I have anecdote pertaining to this programme which occurrd during my promotion interview. I will share it at appropriate time.
Dr Joshi’s melodious voice gave positive impetus to the zoom meeting.
Looking forward for next meeting.
Hemendra B Joshi
8 September, 2021
It was quite interesting to attend the second Zoom meeting !
My feedback on 2nd Zoom meeting held on 6th September,2021 as follows:
1.Such meeting is really served as boon to people who have been faded up from the screen of mind ,a beautiful recollection and reminiscences are quite nostalgic n how abruptly a lesser known face becomes intimate that was happened in case of Dr Motwani and Sri Nagar saheb !it was quite delightful to listen their dilogues initially looming with question marks n suddenly their expression changed !
2.sinusore of all eyes was the wonderful presentation made by shri Shailendra Kumar ji,how nicely depicted 50 innovations of NDDB authored by Dr Naware..you have nicely underlined the interesting short anecdote write from the innovation such as Development of Amul pattern three tire cooperative system ,depicting the end result of socio economic development of people n improving their living standard !
3.More technical stuff and prolonged discussion over leads to monotony ,it could be made interesting by presently precisely no need to support with data,how it helped is very important what I personally believe!
4.some sense of humour in between would generate more interest how the meeting proceeds while focusing on the agenda.I had note and pen to write down some points so that we could have references for future meeting.
5.I think we all should try through various sources in a joint effort to inform and acquaint our former NDDB employees to join such meeting to have better attendance to sustain interest besides better outcome.
6.I really appreciate shri SK ji for his endeavour about formidable task he is undertaking of making all procedural arrangements with lightening communication with each of us ! At the same time publishing it in the blog ,Vrikshamandir in a beautiful format thus doing commendable work for all of us !Sir ,hats off !
Thanks n regards
B G Pai
7 September, 2021
I could not get the connection. However I shall join on the next/ third oneWith kind regards. BG. Pai
10 September 2021
Since a complete list of fifty innovative ideas is circulated it is likely that there would be fewer suggestions now although we are open for them. Accordingly in the forthcoming meeting the second section of technological innovative ideas may be discussed. That should be followed by section three and four.
After discussion over all four sections let us work out a list of those ideas on which we can develop articles. If necessary two three innovative ideas could be brought under one title.
This way let us generate a list and call it ‘ Table of Contents ‘ for publication. By that time let the participants come forward individually or jointly who would like to write a particular article.
The subjects not chosen by anybody could be assigned to somebody by exploring possibility.
All the articles may be written in next say two/three months.
We will need few editors to go through and edit them. Editors could be writers also. As we progress in future let us discuss the way in which articles could be published whether on line or in hard copy form through any publisher.
Genesis of milk operation by Amul Dairy in West Bengal
Dedicated to “Father of white revolution”, Milk man of India Dr. V.Kurien
This blog contains a document titled “A journey from Gujarat to West Bengal” in pdf format embedded on this page. It is written by my dear friend and former colleague Dr Raghu Chattopadhyaya.
It is the story of milk producers cooperative movement in West Bengal.
Readers can view and/or download the entire document.
It actually is more than a story because it provides a lot of data which could be of interest to researchers and also inspire other NDDBians who were the flag bearers of Anand Patrern Milk Producers Cooperatives of 20th Century vintage which gave birth to “Farmer Producer Organisation” in 21 Century!
My apologies to Dr Raghu Chattopadhyaya for the delay in uploading this story.
Please scroll down to read the story of this blog.
Dr Raghu Chattopadhyaya met me at the former NDDB employees meet in February 2020. We met after many years and while we were chatting he quietly passed on to me a A4 size cover which had a hard copy of this document. In the evening I read and liked it. Next day when we met I thanked him for the meticulous work done by compiling facts and figures, adding to that pictures and a narrative that makes it complete. We decided that I will publish it on Vrikshamandir.
Easier said than done.
I moved to Canada in July 2020 and when I started looking for the document I realised that had not brought with me to Canada. I got in touch with him. He shared with me a pdf document. I found it difficult to upload it. I requested him to share a word document. He did but it was so heavy and full of pictures that despite several attempts I could not upload the same.
I was feeling frustrated but realising that technology is not my forte, I kept on trying.
I had almost given up and then by chance in June 2021 I found that there is a very easy way to both upload a pdf document and also enable it’s viewing and down loading. It was a struggle similar to the one I faced in uploading the Vrikshamandir audio page.
Dr Naware writes about NDDB forays into manufacturing of Food and Mouth Disease vaccine. He recounts his experiences both during his student days and during professional life. The topic that he touches is very relevant in the context of the Covid outbreak and efforts in India to contain it.
I had shared this writeup at Dr Naware’s request before uploading here with Dr. MPG Kurup. This is what Dr. Kurup wrote “Shailendra , Naware has done an excellent job , precise , complete in all respects, full of facts: correct and succinct, and without omitting or missing any information ! Congratulations , Dear Naware , good luck and God Speed ! MPG KURUP”
The ongoing pandemic has added many words to the vocabulary of common man which earlier he was not aware of. Now people know and freely use words like virus, corona, strain, sub strain, variant, mutant, double mutant, immunity, immunity booster, vaccine, booster dose, efficacy, Covid-19 and even herd immunity. They also know various names of vaccines that are available to provide immunity against corona although its guarantee or duration is not exactly known even to the scientists.
The first time I heard these terms was when as a student in Veterinary College I studied subjects of Bacteriology ( including virology, immunology ) in 1967 followed by Veterinary Medicine in 68.
As students we studied Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD) caused by virus and affecting all cloven footed animals. This virus exists as seven immunologically distinct serotypes and each has subtypes formed due to mutations. Further, we learnt that in dairy cattle it causes huge economic losses due to severe drop in milk production and problems of breeding thereafter. In case of working bullocks the disease makes them lame and unfit for work for several days. We were taught that to control the disease it was important to carry out vaccination twice in a year on a wider scale since the FMD virus being air borne it spread quickly from village to village through infected animals and non-animate objects like fodder, vehicles etc. The Indian Veterinary Research Institute had produced a vaccine incorporating four strains of FMD virus identified as A, O, C and Asia 1.
Now something about this disease in brief. As the name suggests, when animal gets infected with the virus there are lesions in mouth as well as in hooves. There are ulcers on tongue and gums which turn into painful blisters containing fluid. In cows the blisters may appear on the udder as well. Similar lesions appear on the skin fold between the hooves. Soon these blisters rupture resulting in wounds and animal is unable to chew or ruminate the coarse food and goes lame. The animal goes off feed and in lactating animals milk production suffers for entire lactation. In the case of bullocks they are unable to work in field or pull a cart. The virus spreads through the fluid oozing out of mouth as well as from hooves. It takes several days or weeks for these animals to come back to normal feeding or working. The after effects, however, continue over several months with problems is breeding and general health. The disease affects all types of cattle and buffaloes, sheep, goats, pigs and in case of young calves lesions in heart are noticed. Although death occurs only in severe cases the other symptoms cripple the animals leading to economic losses said above.
The second time I heard or rather had encounter with FMD was in 1972 when I joined NDDB and underwent training in Amul Dairy. When I went on mobile veterinary routes, I came across number of cases of FMD and in some villages witnessed a situation almost like an outbreak. I saw hundreds of buffaloes suffering and the only treatment was first aid with glycerine and boric powder to avoid secondary infection; since there is no treatment as such for the disease.
However, It was around 1980 that I really came to know more about FMD and most importantly about its control in the field conditions. That time I was posted in NDDB Regional Office at Bangalore and the FMD Control Project (FMDCP) was launched in southern peninsula. Actually it was a two-pronged approach, one was to step up use of FMD vaccine in the field progressively and produce a disease free status AND the second objective was to sustain the requirement of adequate vaccine by establishing additional capacity to produce FMD vaccine incorporating the required strains of virus as may be found necessary with first hand experience in field on a wider scale. The action was initiated from Ooty !
Now when I look forty years back I feel astonished as to how one animal disease was addressed by NDDB in the most scientific manner so as to control the disease and save the animal, the farmer, and the economic loss and while keeping the national interest on top of it. It was then estimated that the annual loss on account of FMD was to the tune of Rs 1200 crores at all India level. A situation like that was not affordable for our agricultural economy and thinking about future it also would have posed problems in export of Indian dairy products. Unless you had massive vaccination program and produced a disease free status any export was unthinkable. Thus, a concept of disease free zone had emerged against FMD and NDDB had taken up the project facing all the related issues squarely.
I would like to mention here the salient features of that project for the benefit of readers new to FMD as well as for many to understand the issues involved in controlling any contagious disease caused by virus whether in animals or in human beings.
The NDDB’s objective was to create a sort of disease free zone as far as FMD was concerned and therefore peninsular region was taken as project area. Ooty, a famous hill station ( later on named as Vathagamandalam ) in Tamil Nadu was selected as headquarter to receive and store the required vaccine, monitor the project and carry out laboratory analysis of the samples received from project area on continuous basis. For this purpose in a short span a full fledged laboratory was established on a piece of land provided by Govt. of Tamil Nadu.
Beginning from Ooty the project area comprising 23 districts was to be covered in concentric manner increasing the periphery in each phase. As the periphery increased the project extended into the area of other states namely Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. Given these conditions the project needed full support and cooperation from the Animal Husbandry Department (AHD) of each state.
For this to happen directives from Govt. of India were absolutely necessary and they were sought. Accordingly the state governments made the Animal Disease Control Act applicable by gazette notifications declaring the concerned districts where FMD vaccinations were made compulsory for all cattle, buffaloes, pigs, sheep and goats. Each vaccinated animal was also to be ear-tagged with a permanent plastic tag having unique identification number which enabled the project authority to follow it up with next round of vaccination and also for collecting blood for serum analysis when selected randomly.
From outside the district movement of animals was also checked at the posts established at the entry point of the district. It was made compulsory that the animal should have been vaccinated at least 14 days prior to the date of entry. In addition, all the animals coming to market yard or in weekly cattle markets were vaccinated compulsorily. This was carried out by the staff of the AHD.
The NDDB had appointed Dr. M. Poornachandra Rao as Officer on Special Duty. He had retired as Executive Director in Andhra Pradesh Dairy Corporation with previous experience in AHD.
Dr.S. Ramkrishnan who was Zonal Manager in Tamil Nadu Dairy Federation, came on deputation to help in project implementation. There was one expert from UK stationed at Ooty to provide guidance. Few scientists and a Virologist were appointed to run the laboratory. However, to carry out actual vaccinations in animals a large number of vaccinators and helpers were necessary and it was not possible to create permanent positions. As an alternative they were appointed locally on contract basis and trained in batches. ( A certificate towards the end of program was promised.) The helpers were arranged through dairy societies organized under OF, and where there was no society through Gram Panchayat. The vaccinators and helpers were paid basic remuneration and on the basis of actual number of vaccinations carried out by them. This approach offered them good incentive and had positive effect on achieving the targets. For mobility of vaccinators the project provided motorcycles and paid maintenance cost.
To implement this vaccination program over a wide area of 23 districts and also over a span of several years a consistent flow of appropriate vaccine was absolutely necessary. The capacity of the then existing units in our country was limited. Accordingly arrangements were made with Wellcome Foundation, UK to obtain adequate vaccine during the entire project period which was as Aid from Oversees Development Administration. Assistance was also sought from FMD World Reference Laboratory ( WRL ) at Pirbright UK for typing of strains/ sub strains encountered in the field from time to time as and when there was outbreak anywhere in project area.
Cold chain was very important to keep vaccine between 4 and 8 degree Celsius till it was injected in animal body. Accordingly cold storages, refrigerators, and supply of ice were arranged so that vaccinators carried vaccine in the field at ideal temperature in insulated boxes.
Vaccinations were carried out in each revenue village and all hamlets in its jurisdiction. All Primary Milk Producers’ Societies and District Cooperative Milk Unions under OF participated in the exercise and their infrastructure like Milk Chilling Centre was put to use. The villages in forest area were also covered. The actual data collected during last Animal Census was used as a guideline while trying to cover hundred percent cattle and buffaloes and also other vulnerable stock like sheep goats and pigs. The number of animals thus covered was compared with census figures to work out percentage of herd covered for protection against FMD. Parallel arrangements were made to randomly collect blood samples from vaccinated animals post 14 days from all villages to know the immunity level achieved by vaccination. The inferences were drawn on village basis as well as they pertained for each vaccinator. So their was a sort of surveillance on the vaccinations carried out.
In spite of series of vaccinations as and when there was FMD outbreak, immediate arrangements were made to quarantine the village animals and collect tissue samples for laboratory analysis and for referring to WRL Pirbright for typing of the strain. Simultaneously to stamp out the disease the entire population of cattle, buffaloes and pigs within the radius of few kilometers was vaccinated again.
With this approach the FMDCP was implemented in number of phases spread over many years.
I was in NDDB Regional Office, Bangalore till March 1985 and can say that the project was achieving desired results as more and more districts were covered and periphery increased from Ooty. Although I don’t remember exact figures but can say that beyond 80% animals were covered by vaccination and protected against FMD in the area covered by the time I left Bangalore.
Under the two-pronged approach of NDDB as referred to above, the other part was to establish additional capacity to produce FMD vaccine. Accordingly at Gachchibowali, Hyderabad a Vaccine plant was erected by NDDB in 1982 and it was run as a unit. It was corporatized as Indian Immunologicals Ltd. ( IIL )in 1999. Now in 2021 it is engaged in producing several vaccines as Animal Health products and also Human Health products. What more, it is the World’s largest manufacturer of FMD vaccine producing 360 million doses per year ! The FMD Control Project started in Ooty way back in 1980 has also continued till this day with more and more budgetary support from the Govt. of India covering all the districts in India.
And last but not least, from its website one finds that the IIL is presently in tie up with Australia’s Griffith University for COVID-19 vaccine research that is expected to provide long-lasting protection with a single dose administration to we people.
NDDB 1974-1992 and Bihar Milk Federation / Barauni Union 1992 -2006
The writing of this blog became possible as I had so much of leisure time during this self-imposed ‘house arrest’ thanks to Corona.
I have been a part of the Indian Dairy Industry for over 45 years now . I spent the initial two decades of my work life with the premiere institution ‘National Dairy Development Board’, the founder-Chairman of which was no one else but the legendary Dr.Verghese Kurien, the Milk man of India & Father of White Revolution.
My home state is Bihar. Here, March-April is the beginning of lean season when milk production starts receding but the market demand increases thus leaving a gap in demand and supply. But this year, because of the devastating spread of CORONA virus, it has put a brake to a great extent on the movement of milk from the point of production (villages) to the point of processing & marketing.
The situation which has been explained above made me to think of avenues for the farmers so that the milk produced can be sent for marketing. I happened to call a gentleman who is currently holding a very senior position in one of the prestigious Dairy companies of Eastern India. This senior Dairy Technologist, who hails from South, was in his early career an Assistant Manager in a Co-operative Dairy organisation of Bihar where I had joined in the position of Managing Director. It was early 1990s. The technologist whom I am referring to was then a very shy and simple gentleman but very much duty-bound. Talking to him after such a long gap reminded me of an incidence which happened during the period we worked together.
I believe, the incident that I am penning down will be of interest to our ‘Future Managers. It is a classic case and one of the novel ways in which an ‘effective manager’ can handle a tough situation to straighten quite a few hurdles in a single stroke.
This officer whom I mentioned earlier was the Section in-charge and in his section he had one class IV employee who was habitually late in reporting for duty. The section in-charge used to remind the habitual offender every now and then to report for duty on time.
The officer kept marking ‘late’ on the attendance sheet against the name of that erring employee. But no improvement was noticed in the behaviour of that employee. On the contrary, it was reported that the same employee used to provoke other employees also to not only to come late but idle away their time ‘and misbehave with seniors.
This continued for nearly a month and then this incidence happened.
One morning this employee let us call him R quietly entered the chamber of his section officer in a Bollywood style and bolted the door from inside. He took out a dagger, a sharp weapon, and pointing it at the officer asked him to mark him present and ‘regularise’ his attendance sheet or else face the consequences. The officer got frightened but somehow managed to get that employee out of the room.
This officer, as I mentioned earlier, was of a shy nature and did not mix much with others including his peers. This is how this ‘incident ‘ went unnoticed for quite a few days. When employee R , noticed that he has not been summoned by any senior manager for his misadventure, he started boasting as if he has now become the unchallenged ‘gang-head’ of such type of employees.
In the process, he told many of his gang-mates about this “incident”.
For the benefit of future managers let me state that to be an “effective Manager” one has to have a very strong Intelligence net-work.
This I firmly believed in and thus I had people properly groomed who pretended as if they were not on my side but the fact was just opposite.
This strategy really worked for me and particularly for this episode.
I came to know about this episode, a few days later, when employee R shared the happenings with one of his gang-mates who in fact was my confidant.
Getting to know from the horses mouth
Generally, the Section-in-charge used to leave office only after I had left my office in the evening or seek my permission before leaving. On that particular day I sent my PA to convey to the officer to keep all the information of his section ready because the Managing Director will review the same sometime in the evening.
This I did with the purpose that he would keep himself ready to meet the Managing Director or else a sudden call from me may up-set him. That particular day I left my office a little early. My residence was in the campus just next to Dairy premises. After a while, I checked from the security and when found that everyone has left the office, I again went to my office chamber.
My chamber was in the administrative building whereas that officer had his office in the Dairy plant premises. On reaching my office, there was no one around, not even my personal staff. I was all alone. Then I called that officer over phone.
On his arrival, I started with just usual chat like how he manages his meals, how his parents are and when is he planning to go home etc. etc. I tried to make him comfortable. Once he was comfortable with me I gradually started checking about his official activities including the difficulties, if any, that he may be facing. Even after all this I found that he was reluctant to talk about that employee R .
I had to start talking about that employee R but he kept on simply nodding but after a while he gradually started opening up. He then became emotional and with a choked voice started narrating about what all had happened that morning. He also told me that the employee in question threatened him of dire consequences in case the officer shared this episode with the Managing Director. Anyway, I assured him of all support and protection and not to fear at all. I also asked him to give in writing all this so that I would take disciplinary action if required. He, I found from his expression, felt relieved and assured me that he will submit a report the very next day.
Inner Dynamics of the organisation
Before going any further, let me share with you some details of the inner dynamics of the organisation I was working for.
However, in my mind I was clear that this Threat we were facing was in fact an opportunity knocking at the door to set things right. But how ?
~ Composition of work force
We had people from different backgrounds. Some were from the erstwhile Bihar State Dairy Corporation which was put under liquidation by the Government. When ‘Operation Flood’ programme was launched by ‘NDDB’ to replicate Anand’ pattern of Dairy Cooperatives in Bihar , it was one of the conditions that the State Dairy Corporation will be put under liquidation and the employees of the Corporation would be screened. Those who are found suitable, would be given appointment by the newly formed Bihar State Milk Federation and those who are not made a part of the Federation will be absorbed in other departments of the state Government. So, this was one set of employees. •Another set of employees were mostly freshers appointed by the State Milk Federation on behalf of different District/Regional Milk Unions. Yet another set was of employees was working through labour contractors. Among them some were on daily- wage basis and others were working on piece-rate basis.
This was not the end …. There were people though working on the pay-role of the Milk Union but were not being paid a regular salary. Instead, they were being paid a fixed amount on monthly basis.
And finally, there was a handful of employees from the NDDB and I was one of them. I was appointed as the Managing Director initially on ‘lien’ which meant that I had the option to go back to my parent organisation NDDB any time but before the lien period is over.
I do not want to go into the details but I must mention here that except for the last group, all other groups had some or the other grudge against the situation they were experiencing.
I wanted to take action as I was sniffing an opportunity. But how? I had to take into consideration the inner dynamic of the organisation as also the prevailing political scene in the area.
Those days the district where this Co-operative Dairy organisation was situated had seven Assembly seats and one Parliament seat. And, one would perhaps not believe that on all the seven plus one seats, elected representatives were not only affiliated but were also active members of the CPI.
No wonder that those days this district was popularly called the ‘Leningrad’ of the state. Many of the duly elected Board members of the Milk Union also had CPI affiliation. Even the Board Chairman was a member of CPI. And this was not the end, let me tell here that the “leader of the opposition” in the Milk Union Board, who happened to be my worst critic, was also a member of CPI’s local polit-bureau.
The reader would now very well understand that most of the class III & IV employees, being locals, were under the influence of CPI. A good number of suppliers, transporters, even DCS members and their office-bearers had the same political leaning.
And to top it all, the employee R in question was also a political activist and was being openly supported by all the “people’s representatives”. The employee R was a frequent visitor to the village residence of the Chairman. The employee R would speak loose about me saying; “साहब बहुत हीरो बनते हैं, इनको एक साल पूरा होने के पहले भगा दिया जायेगा, जैसा कि पीछे हो चुका है” (MD behaves like a hero, but he would be kicked-out before he completes a year, as has already happened in the past).
What needs to be done has to be done
My lien with NDDB was for a period of one year.
There were many factors other than inner dynamics of the organisation and the political situation I am not narrating those as those were not that important. However, from the above narrative about PEOPLE & POLITICAL SITUATION, one can very well visualise that how difficult it was on my part to take any strong action against employee R.
I would now give account, step by step, how and what strong action we resorted to for getting rid of this erring employee. In very first place, I planned every action on my own and also carefully thought of the likely difficulties and threats that I would face and also ways for their redressal. I then identified the employees with whom I would share my planning and also get their opinion. I started calling the identified employees, not in groups but individually, at my residence in the late evening. My purpose of calling them one by one was to keep only those people informed who were to be involved in the ‘operation’. A manager should also take note of the point that at times it becomes necessary that important and grave issues can not be discussed in a group but only one to one.
This way one can avoid conflicts and also avoid leakage of the secrecy. My meeting with identified people continued till late that night and all identified employees, mostly officers were individually told what exactly they are expected to do. The strategy I adopted was to allow the identified employees to associate as many employees and workers of their respective section as they deem fit but they all should be their confidants. This I did with the intention of making them also feel big and important. I would mention here again that the Chief has to have a strong net-work of not only intelligence but counter – intelligence as well. I kept taking feed-back from this net-work. Let me also write here that under intelligence net-work I had people who were not even employees.
They could be persons from your vendors, transporters, contractors and so on. The Chief has to have the KUNDALI available generally for all those who are associated with the organisation in one or the other way. The saying goes “KNOWLEDGE IS POWER” and is hundred percent true.
I feel, if I do not write a few of the incidences which happened here in the past, it would not be fair on my part and will not be a justice with this case-study. Let me start with what had happened with my immediate predecessor. He was a very accomplished officer with track record of a ‘good manager’ coupled with a strong socio-political background. He was upright as well. But what happened with him was most unprecedented and unbelievable. It was perhaps the worst thing to happen with an organisation head.
The ‘place’ where this cooperative Dairy organisation is located, was besides many more things, also notoriously famous as a ‘den’ of criminals. Unfortunately, the most dreaded criminal of the state was a native of that place. He had good hold in the working of the Dairy also.A good number of workers, suppliers, contractors etc. were either his blood relation or were under his influence. It was this dreaded criminal who, for teaching a good lesson to my predecessor with the intention of establishing his ‘dominance, i.e. absolute power’ in the working of the Dairy managed to kidnap him, I mean my predecessor. Good God, the Almighty was kind enough that after few days my predecessor was back home without any physical injury. But one can very well visualise the impact this unfortunate happening left primarily on the morale of the employees. It was very deep and long lasting.
To add to the crisis, the employee on whom this case-study is being written, happened to be a cousin of that dreaded criminal.
Since I do not want to undermine the main focus, I now avoid writing details of many such small yet serious incidents. But let me tell that one of the big reasons of such unfortunate happenings was ‘lack of cohesion and understanding’ among the employees.
Now back to the main focus …… next morning every thing appeared just normal. All employees for the first shift, which starts at 6 AM, in the Dairy plant were in position. Things were moving as a matter of routine. Office-staff also started coming around 9.15 in the morning because the office hours begin at 9.30 AM and end at 5.30 PM. I also, as usual, came walking, as I did always, and stood near the main gate. Talked to the Security commander, a retired Army officer, and then moved towards my office. Talked to all those people over intercom whom I had included in the team for the ensuing OPERATION. I found that the things were in proper order. Now the real drama was to start. The employee whom we had planned to take to task, a habitual late comer, used to come always after 9.30 in the morning. So, at 9.30 I rang the Security Commander and told him that he would personally ensure that the employee concerned is not given entry in any situation. Little over 9.30 am the employee R , as usual, in his unruly way tried to enter the gate but he was not allowed. In the mean time, I informed all the concerned persons to come over to the main entrance. I also came out of my chamber and moved towards the main gate. By this time, like a wild fire, the news of this employee R not being allowed entry had flashed. My personal staff requested me not to go out but I ignored their advice and reached the main gate. They also came along. By this time a big crowd had gathered, both inside and outside the main gate. Huge number of the supporters of employee R were trying to enter the gate with him but they were not allowed. I patted the security staff and reminded that no one should be given entry. Before I write further, let me share that with the apprehension of getting our planning leaked, I had not informed the police, though the police station was hardly 100 meters away. But one of the team members was told to inform the police once the drama starts. And this is what happened. I knew that local police would not do much but as a Chief it was required of me.
We pretended as if all this is a sudden development because of that very employee R who when asked to open his hand bag he started misbehaving with the security staff. This was true also.
Usually he would not get his hand bag checked but today the security staff insisted that he must get his hand bag checked. This he took as his insult and thus the real drama started. His supporters who had already reported for duty and were inside busy with their routine work also came out of the factory and offices and started soughting slogans like नहीं चलेगी – नहीं चलेगी….हर जोड़ जुल्म के टक्कर से ….. and मुर्दाबाद-मुर्दाबाद etc. They stopped work and the dairy plant operation thus came to a stand-still.
Then the flash strike
That was something we wanted to happen. On the other side of the main gate, i.e. on the road, even the passers by found something unusual and amusing therefore became spectators and this way the crowd started increasing. People from villages around also crowded the place and all-together a big chaos was created. For us, the team which had planned the operation things were moving the way it was expected. By this time the message had spread far and wide. The leaders, Board members started pouring in. They all wanted to enter the premises. But we had already planned that who all would be allowed. No small-timers were allowed to enter inside. The Board members were allowed entry. The Board members were soon surrounded by the employees supportive of employee R. We did not pay any attention to the Board members. I rather avoided them.
This we did with the intention so that people around see that attention is not being paid to the Board members. I tried to make them realise that in staff matters, it is the management whose role has to be decisive.
We had not made any sitting arrangements and it was also done with a purpose. The purpose was to make every one aware that the management would not entertain, who ever he may be, if he is a supporter of the erring employees. Our strategy this time was ‘now or never’. When the local leaders were not allowed entry then gradually the elected peoples’ representatives started coming. Many of the MLAs and also the MP came. They were allowed entry. As a part of our strategy, we then asked the employees who were present inside the premises that whoever is willing, can go out of the premises. As expected, many of them left the premises to show their allegiance with the trouble creators. A few of the employees remained inside. Now, as part of our game, one of the members of our dominant coalition took all the employees who did no go out, to the Dairy plant premises. Within minutes the plant operation resumed. As planned, a good number of office staff also supported in plant operation. This was then being spread purposely by people who were in support of management that they all together can run the dairy plant. On the other hand, Board members and the leaders who all had come were trying to talk to me but I myself was keeping busy with the team discussing the action plan. Had there been some other occasion, all who came would have been served with dairy-fresh lassi and sweets but today there was none even to enquire about water.
Things were moving the way we envisaged. This was a big boost-up for the ‘team-operation’ but not for those who were on the other side and they were getting desperate. Fence-sitters, most of whom had moved out of the premises, started seeking permission to come inside.
I then came to the main entrance with my team and under full view of the leaders who were inside and keenly watching the happenings, I allowed the fence-sitters to come inside. All who wanted to come were allowed in and straightway, with their guilty gestures, went inside the factory premises and without any hassel resumed their work.
In other words, the STRIKE they had announced did not click.
Time to take the bull by the horn
The strike did not click and then the time for management to confront and assert
Very-very unfortunate and unusual on the part of the leaders as they felt small which was very much evident from their faces.
Now was my time to turn to them. I moved towards them and within seconds they surrounded and started hurling hard words at me. They wanted me to take every one back who had gone out. But, as per my plan, I straightway told that whosoever has not returned in the first instance would not be allowed to enter now. So, the tug-of-war now started between the leaders representing the erring employees and the management on the other side. For the first time, I found that on this particular issue the Board Chairman and the opposition leader in the Board were unanimous in taking all the erring employees back and allow them to resume their duty.
For that matter, the entire Board, I mean here that all the elected representatives on the Board, without any exception, were of the view that all erring employees should be allowed to resume their work. But even after their great persuation, I did not give-up. Now was the turn of the leaders, the duly elected peoples representatives, few of the MLAs and also the MP of that constituency.
They started showing their might through their words but I was determined for two things – one was not to loose my cool and another, not to come under their pressure, what may come. They tried to terrorise me by citing the past happenings, including that of kidnapping. But I did not buzz at all. For them it was an issue of their prestige and image which they thought that they would lose if I do not buzz. On the other side, for me the issue of smooth running of the organisation, which was a bread-winner of thousands of families, was foremost. Added to it, the image of the cadre I belonged to, i.e. NDDB was also not less important. It would not be out of place here to write that while leaving NDDB, my boss had asked me that whether I will return back after my period of lien with NDDB is over. My reply was simply NO. And I feel proud in putting here that I lived to my words.
Ok, let me get back to the tug-of-war what was going-on. Finding that their threats were futile, the peoples representatives then asked me to put in my papers because I have failed to manage the Milk Union in a way it should have been. I found that the Board Chairman and the members were simply mute spectators. Now, I really started getting up-set. I, all of a sudden, started shouting , all intentional, and told them that I will get big locks and you all together put it on the entrance of this dairy premises. But, remember, I will not just end up there. I and all my team members will start telling people in the entire area as to how your leaders are bent upon closing this Dairy like they did with many other industries around.
Now, it was I who started threatening them that for a hand-ful of erring employees you are trying to create a chaos and build pressure on me to take them back. This really worked. Their tone then unexpectedly changed. They rather appeared polite. They came in a persuasive mode. But their issue remained the same, to take all people back to work. I said them to wait for a while so that I can take the opinion of all my team members. I, in the meantime, asked my PA to arrange for some chairs and also tea and refreshment for them. I then proceeded to my office chamber. My team members followed me. All my fellow members were almost blushing. We also had tea after this marathon race. We then discussed that now how to wind up this episode. I played here only as of a Moderator. The consensus was to take back all the workers but for that rouge. I also agreed to this. This made my team members feel that it was their victory, not of the Chief alone.
Later, I added that those who are willing to come back should sign a bond that in future they would not indulge in any such activity which is harmful for the organisation. I also put one more condition that every bond will be countersigned by another five such workers who had participated in to-day’s unauthorised strike. So, after all such decisions at our end we went out to meet the people who were anxiously awaiting to know from us the verdict. As expected, there was some reaction because we were very clear on not taking back that employee R . Some arguments and discussions took place and finding no alternative, they finally agreed to our suggestion, rather a verdict of the management.
NDDB 1974- 2009 and Kolhapur Milk Producers Union 2009 continuing
I was NDDB, State Director for Maharashtra during 2000-2003.
In the year 2002, we received a message that Dr. Kurien would visit to Pune to receive “Lokmanya TilakAward” constituted by Lokmanya Tilak Trust, at Tilak Smarak Bhavan, Pune.
The entire staff comprising ten NDDB Officers was asked to attend the ceremony.
The Tilak SmarakBhavan in Pune is famous for its cultural activities.
It is located in the middle of the Pune city near S.P. college. We had informed milk unions in Maharashtra about the award ceremony well in advance. Therefore, a huge number of farmer leaders gathered on the venue that day.
Hall was jam packed and people were standing in the corridor to have glimpse of Dr. Kurien and listen to his speech. Pune is the educational hub, not only in Maharashtra but also in western part of the country.
The people in the city who are known to speak one of the purest cultured Marathi language were about to listen to a great orator of his time who never spoke any language other than English. His command over English was supreb.
On that day, in the month of August, Dr. Kurien was at his best in his usual style.
In the beginning, he spoke about the genesis of about Amul dairy and NDDB at a small place called Anand in Gujarat.
In the audience, there were government departments’ officers who had opposed Dr. Kurien’s policy “tooth and nail”. In fact at one point of time in Pune, Dr. Kurien’s effigy was burnt by the government dairy employees protesting against implementation of Operation Flood Programme.
In the same city, where Dr. Kurien and his policies were opposed, he was being felicitated by one of the most prestigious award that too by none other than the grandson of Lokmanya Tilak.
Lokmanya Tilak was known for his outspoken and forthright nationalism.
Dr. Kurien too was known for similar qualities. Dr. Kurien was probably one of the most worthy recipients of the awardees of Lokmanya Tilak Award which was constituted by the Lokmanya Tilak Trust in 1983.
I still remember his speech and his philosophical remarks. He said, in this world, nothing is clear cut in black or white. There is always a shade of grey in between. Throughout this life, Dr. Kurien favoured doing things in White. That is why he named Operation Flood as “White Revolution”.
Despite this ‘Illustrated Weekly’ accused NDDB for white lies. He fought these black forces throughout his life and never compromised his values. His loathing for bureaucracy emanated from his experiences of dealing with the bureaucracy under different governments.
Probably that is why on that day he said nothing is either white or black in this world and there is a shade of grey in between.
What a classic remark. It was a memorable day for dairy industry in Maharashtra.
Who am I ? don’t know but I know that I was born in a small village Banduari in eastern UP in a farming family known for being “just” given the times that we lived in those days and depended upon agriculture and animal husbandry and also for love of wrestling. I am told that our ancestors lived in that area for hundreds of years …But….
Like my father and his two younger brothers, I too left the village when I was about 21 years old. Prior to that as family stories go my great grand father sent my grand father to study beyond fifth standard to the city some 30 kilometres away. However, after 10-15 days my great grand father started missing his son and undertook a journey to go to the city and get back his son on his pony. Father and son met some halfway in between and came back to the village. That was end of story as far as my grand fathers formal higher education was concerned!
I was considered “good” in studies. My father was the first one in the family to pass matriculation examination and the first post graduate in our village. I also studied as I was expected to get a job and see the world and support the family.
I left the village but the village has never left me.
It was the same case with my father. He too lived away from our village most of his life but kept visiting the village regularly.
My father took the most unproductive ancestral land in the village and made it productive by hard work and investments over a decade and planted hundreds of trees trees and named this small plot of land as VrikshaMandir.
I attempt to continue the work started by my father by planting more trees undertaking agricultural activities and am attempting to develop this place so that it is used by the community especially school going students. .
I was perhaps the 14th employee and I had the kitchen of a two storied two bedroom building ( Waghasia Building) that existed in 1968 next to AMUL dairy in Anand.
NDDB campus 1970 some pictures
A major change occurred in my professional life and outlook. In 1974 I was appointed as Executive Assistant to Dr. V Kurien the founder Chairman NDDB, Anand. Although my career graph grew and changed but connection with Dr. Kurien’s office in one way or the other continued till he left NDDB in 1998. NDDB Annual reports have a tradition of publishing name of officers on the rolls of the organisation in different functions. I would find my name appearing in two places a line function like Head of Oilseeds and Oil Wing or Head of Human Resource Development and a staff function like the Office of the Chairman NDDB. I did not last long in NDDB after Dr. Kurien left. That’s a long story and it is better kept for some other time .
Anand to Gurugram
Next seventeen years were once again start from the scratch. In the year 2000 my friend Anil Sachdev had just started Grow Talent Company Limited (GTCL) and I became second employee of GTCL. The company started the School of Inspired Leadership (SOIL https://www.soilindia.net) in 2008. I have been associated with this organisation since 2000. I will be posting a separate blog on this novel experiment in leadership development higher education with the vision To Develop Leaders with Character, Competence ans Enthusiasm.
The story isn’t complete yet
I decided to launch this website and post blog for documenting life experiences, incidents, and insights observed and reflected upon from time to time by me as well as of those whom I came in to contact with; some of whom deeply impacted the course of my life journey. I am deeply indebted to them. There will be pages on this website and blogs dedicated to their life stories written by me or contributed by them.
Depending upon time of the year I can now be found at Gurugram, Toronto, Gorakhpur and at Vriksha Mandir in my village or any other place on the planet!
Dr MPG Kurup and RK Nagar are already contributing blogs on this website. Many other friends and former colleagues have said that they too will contribute. I hope they will do so soon. I am excited.
I would like to end this by a link to a mantra from Rig Veda. These Mantras are recited at the convocation of the Institute of Rural Management at Anand ( IRMA).