Former Executive Director National Dairy Development Board
Dr. MPG Kurup writes with substantial inputs from his classmate Prof.Dr. M Krishnan Nair, Dean , Faculty of Veterinary and Animal Sciences about Prof. Dr.M.N. Menon, Former Animal Husbandry Commissioner & Jt.Secretary , Government of India , New Delhi
Dr. MN Menon was one of the most outstanding Veterinary Professionals in India : the crowning position he held in the country was as the Animal Husbandry Commissioner and Joint Secretary to the Government of India for a period of 5 years.
After a distinguished / brilliant , academic career completed the 5 year GMVC/BVSc Course in 1945 , from the Madras Veterinary College. Dr.KS Nair was the Principal and his Mentor. Dr.Menon , then joined the Indian Dairy Research Institute and acquired their Associateship. He then went to United Kingdom and took MRCVS From the Royal Veterinary College London , and later the Royal College awarded him FRCVS , for the innovative Thoracic Surgery Technique in Dogs , he developed.
In 1958 , the Kerala Government invited Dr.Menon : then Professor of Surgery in Madras Veterinary College , to join the Kerala Veterinary College and appointed him as the Principal and Professor of Surgery . The Government later appointed him as the State Director of Animal Husbandry , in 1961 .
In 1971 , Dr.V Kurien , Chairman of the National Dairy Development Board as well as the Chairman of the Indian Dairy Corporation , persuaded Dr. Menon to join the Indian Dairy Corporation as its Regional Manager in Chennai. Dr.Kurien wanted him to actively participate in the world famous Farmer / Dairy Development Project “Operation Flood” , he launched in 1970 ! Soon he moved to the Head Office of the IDC as Head (Milk Production Enhancement and Procurement : MPEP) , in Baroda , Gujarat.
Meanwhile I was already the Dy.Director of Farmer Organisation and Animal Husbandry , in the NDDB , at Anand , also in Gujarat. We thus became Colleagues in the Same National Set Up. Among other things , one of the interesting and important tasks we did jointly was to acquire from the World Market , very high genetic quality Breeding Stock of Dairy Cattle : Pregnant Heifers and Young Bulls , thousands of them , from Europe , North America , Australia and New Zealand . We also organised the massive Air transport of the globally acquired Dairy Seed Stock by specially chartered Boeing 747 Cargo Air Crafts ,from the International Airports to Various Air Ports in India.
In the second half of 1975 , Dr.Menon was appointed by the Government of India , as The Animal Husbandry Commissioner , as well as , the Joint Secretary , ex officio , in the Central Ministry of Agriculture. When Dr.MN Menon became part of the Central Government , I took over as the Head (MPEP) of the IDC in Baroda and continued the tasks.
Dr. Menon was the Protégée and also the Son in Law , of Dr.KS Nair and has two Children : a daughter and a son. Dr.Menon , after a very distinguished career , retired to his home town ” Thiruvananthapuram ” .He left for his heavenly abode in the late Nineties.
Dr. Menon was a Man of unassailable integrity , both personal and professional ! He was also a wonderful human being. He was my , teacher , Boss , mentor, later Colleague and all through my friend , Philosopher and guide. I can summerise my feelings for him as nothing less than “worship” !
May his noble soul continue to rest eternally in peace , in his heavenly home ! Guru Sakshath Parabrahma , thasmii Sree Gurave Namah.
Dr. Naware recounts the initial years of his professional life journey that began in 1970 at Uruli Kanchan. This was before he joined NDDB in . In this memoir he writes about his days at Bhartiya Agro Industries Foundation and the unforgettable experience of meeting Balkoba ji, brother of Acharya Vinoba Bhave.
The year 1970 had begun very well for me. On 1st of January I had landed in Indian Veterinary Research Institute, Izzatnagar, as a Trainee Officer deputed by Bharatiya Agro Industries Foundation (BAIF) to undergo three months’ Advance Course in Physio Pathology of Reproduction and Artificial Insemination. That course was usually meant for Captains and Lieutenants from Army’s Remount Veterinary Corps but for the first time a batch of twelve civilian officers from BAIF was entertained there.
Arrival in Uruli Kanchan
On completion of training at IVRI, we reported back at Uruli Kanchan in the month of April. We underwent an orientation program that provided us the genesis, programmes of BAIF and its mission. Yes, Shri Manibhai Desai called BAIF a Mission and said we were to work in the field like missionaries.
The idea of BAIF emerged from the activities taken up by Ashram Goshala which was a part of Nature Cure Centre (NCC) established with the blessings of Mahatma Gandhi. Therefore, it was but natural that in all our dealings we were to cherish the values preached by Mahatma Gandhi.
During our orientation programme the lecture by Shri Manibhai Desai was most inspiring. Apart from his efforts to develop Gir cows he also told us how he studied the anatomy of cow by conducting post mortem as and when any animal died of a disease in Goshala and while dissecting he referred to the book of Veterinary Anatomy and studied the organs. We also gathered that he had read the book ‘Animal Breeding Plans’ authored by Jay Lush on Population Genetics which was supposed to be very difficult to understand for graduates like us. With these attributes no doubt Shri Manibhai Desai was our Philosopher and Guide. Dr. MR Marathe, Dr. DV Rangnekar and Dr. AP Phatak were also there as senior staff. After orientation one by one the officers were posted at BAIF Breeding Centers that were opened in Panjarpol Sansthas and Cooperative Sugar Factories..
Ashram; Nature Cure Centre
I was retained at HQ to coordinate the field activity and for organizing supply of liquid nitrogen to all Centers. In NCC there were houses in a row and I was offered one of them on sharing basis with a colleague. In the next month Dr. SB Gokhale who had completed MVSc in Animal Genetics at IVRI also joined BAIF and he started sharing accommodation with me. We both had graduated from Nagpur Veterinary College and knew each other very well and had common hobbies like Indian classical music. Around same time Dr. AL Joshi who had Doctorate in Biochemistry joined us. We had no problem regarding residence but main problem was food. So we decided to try Thali meals available from NCC as our first alternative.
The Nature Cure Centre ( NCC ) had a regular kitchen to cook meals for their patients. They had a number of cottages and rooms to house patients who came there from Mumbai / Gujarat to overcome chronic ailments and particularly lifestyle diseases. Many persons came there only for weight reduction program. Once at the Centre, they were prescribed a balanced diet plus daily exercise and physical activities like sweeping the ground with broom and rotating a stone mill in a sitting position with both the hands. The Wheat and Jowar Aata thus produced was used in making Rotis in their kitchen.
The NCC offered Thali meals with Rotis which were coarse, Chawal that was not white, Dal which was plain, Vegetable curry that was bland, Chutney which was not spicy, Butter milk with little trace of butter, Tomato Cucumber salad and a dumpling of Yellow Butter from cow milk. Also each Thali was so designed that the total daily supply of salt would not exceed three grams. With that kind of description the Thali was unpalatable and not attractive. For us it was very costly also. We tried that Thali for couple of days and realized that we were not meant for it and could not continue with it. In fact we had noticed that many patients in NCC also didn’t like that Thali food and number of them were actually going towards bus stand in the evening to eat Farsaan and Chivda to compensate that less salt intake.
Self Cooked Meals; some experiments
Dr. Gokhale and I decided to cook our own meals. We went to Pune and purchased kitchen utensils. I purchased Hawkins Pressure Cooker and Dr. Gokhale went for a Gas Stove with two burners. I remember it was on 27th June 70 that I purchased a two liter hindalium Paweli for heating milk which is still with me. It was useful for all of us since milk was essential for tea and for drinking as such. Same way we purchased other items on sharing basis.
For vegetables, grains and number of other items we had weekly village market held just outside the NCC. Visiting that weekly market for fresh vegetables was really worth and enjoyable. Myself and Gokhale would go and fetch our weekly requirement with good bargain and once home we could sort out grain and get it ground at a flour mill and all that was done on weekly holiday. For grocery we fixed a shop and soon we started our kitchen. Initially we had enthusiasm even for making Chapatis but soon we realized that it was cumbersome and asked one watchman to help us. We could prepare rest of the items ourselves. Women from neighborhood families were curious about our trial and errors and soon news became public.
Somehow this news reached to Shri Manibhai Desai also. One day he straightaway asked me about our kitchen activity. When I told him that we hardly had any alternative he categorically said that we should not be spending more time on this activity and our duty was much more important ! But it was difficult for us to follow his advice and we continued to cook our meals for number of months.
How long one can go without meal is a question. However, at Uruli Kanchan I met one personality who lived on milk for number of days just like a meal. Could milk become a square meal ? I have no answer. But I had an occasion to meet him.
My colleague by name Uday (उदय) was keeping financial accounts in BAIF and we were friends. He had spent more time in Ashram and knew many people. One day he told me that Shri Balkoba (बाळकोबा) Bhave, the younger brother of Acharya Vinoba Bhave was back to Uruli Kanchan Ashram and we could go and pay our respects to him. With profound respect Balkoba was called as Balkoba only.
Acharya Vinoba Bhave had two brothers namely Balkoba and Shivaji. All three were bachelors, followed Gandhian principles and did social work. It is on record that Mahatma Gandhi visited Uruli Kanchan for seven days in the end of March 1946 when he treated hundreds of patients with naturopathy with the help of Dr. Mehta, Balkoba Bhave, Manibhai Desai and Dr. Sushila Nair.
Milk as meal
My colleague and friend Uday (उदय) who was responsible for keeping accounts in BAIF had spent much more time than us in the Ashram and knew many people.
One day Uday told me that Shri Balkoba (बाळकोबा) Bhave, the younger brother of Acharya Vinoba Bhave was back to Uruli Kanchan Ashram and we could go and pay our respects to him. With profound respect Balkoba was called as Balkoba only.
I had heard about Balkoba. In fact he was there when the NCC at Uruli Kanchan was started way back in 1946. He himself had also undergone treatment for a chronic disease while at Uruli Kanchan. So every set up now seen at Uruli Kanchan had linkage to this past history starting with Balkoba. Every year he spent six months at Uruli kanchan and rest of his time in Pawnar Ashram of Acharya Vinoba Bhave and at Dhulia. I was curious and keen to meet him. Uday had met him number of times.
So one evening we went to the cottage where Balkoba was staying. It had a thatched roof and we had to bow our head while entering it. As we entered I saw Balkoba sitting right in front of us on a mattress covered by a stark white sheet. The first thing that struck me was his resemblance with Acharya Vinoba Bhave. As we went near him I touched his feet and folded my hands. He welcomed us and offered us Chatai lying in front of him. We sat on it.
” Balkoba, this is Dr. Naware. He has joined the Foundation. He is a Vet.” Uday told him.
Balkoba looked at me and expressed his pleasure on this introduction.
” It is good, Manibhai is making big effort to increase cow milk production and you are joining him. Where do you come from ? ” He asked me.
I told him that I was born in Satara and brought up in Nagpur.
” Do you take cow milk ? ” He asked me.
I told him that as a child I had taken cow milk but later on cow milk was not available in cities.
Therefore I had taken buffalo milk for a longer time.
“First YOU should take cow milk as a matter of principle.” He told me. ” When you take cow milk then only you have moral right to tell people to consume it. When Manibhai is committed to produce cow milk you will have to tell people to consume it. And before that you should consume it.” He said.
I appreciated his point because people had also liking for buffalo milk on account of higher fat content and its ability to whiten tea. Non availability was another matter.
” Do you know how important much cow milk is ?” Balkoba continued, ” How much I owe to this माऊली ..Mother cow…If she had not been there I would have died long back. I am alive because of her. Now whenever I see this माऊली … tears roll down from my eyes. She is my माऊली my true mother.” He said full of emotion.
I had heard that Balkoba was on cow milk diet for number of days perhaps weeks. Now he was confirming how he owed his existence to consuming cow milk.
After a little pause he again started praising cow milk for its nutritive values.
” I have lived on cow milk all these years. Do you know, it is complete food. It gives strength and stamina. It has power to cure so many diseases. All proteins, vitamins whatever body needs everything is there in cow milk. But they say it has less of iron and they have advised me that I should take extra iron.
That is why now with milk I chew some leaves of raw spinach ” He said pointing his finger towards a bundle of spinach leaves lying by his side. But for this he wanted me to understand importance of cow milk as a complete food and carry the message to the people.
Seeing those spinach leaves I admired Balkoba’s willingness to accept at least one deficiency in milk. I knew he had lot of experience on its therapeutic values. I had not known anybody with so much faith in cow milk. Also I had seen that his devotion to cow was honest and unparalleled. The purpose of our meeting was over.
With that impression I asked for his leave and folded my hands.
Acharya Vinoba Bhave had two brothers namely Balkoba and Shivaji. All three were bachelors, followed Gandhian principles and did social work. It is on record that Mahatma Gandhi visited Uruli Kanchan for seven days in the end of March 1946 when he treated hundreds of patients with naturopathy with the help of Dr. Mehta, Balkoba Bhave, Manibhai Desai and Dr. Sushila Nair.
The Nisargopchar Gramsudhar Trust was formed on 1st April, 1946 where nature cure was followed on the guidelines given by Mahatma Gandhi. Afterwards Balkoba, apart from practicing nature cure studied philosophy and authored couple of books on Gita and one titled सोपा ग्रामीण निसर्गोपचार i.e. Simple Rural Nature Cure.
Slipping back to the den of glorious past in 1975, I had graduated from Gujarat College of Veterinary Science Anand and had obtained prestigious degree of Bachelor of Veterinary Science and Animal Husbandry ( BV Sc.& AH). I got my first job on an ad hoc basis as a lecturer in surgery in the College itself based on merit and thus my professional career had started !
Singing being my ardent passion, I had inculcated wonderful relationship with Prof.Dr. Jayvir Anjaria who was a connoisseur of music. Almost every weekend, we had wonderful sittings for singing !
Our audience of that time mostly comprised Shri Girishbhai Jhala the then Secretary of National Dairy Development Board, Anand and sometimes Rashmi Nagarji and a few others.
I was popularly known as Gadhvi, a name given by Jhala Saheb. I would also get invitation to conduct prayer sessions university convocation as I was the leading voice !
Two years passed but there was no offer for a regular job. Naturally we all were worried as to when would we be selected for a regular job. This question was hovering in our psyche !
In fact, we were trapped in the college. We were interviewed in the department but not selected so our future were in limbo as salary was meagre and if we wanted to study further we had to seek admission at our cost and no study leave was granted !
In such a grave scenario, suddenly there was a ray of hope as NDDB had the requirements for training personnel in Artificial Insemination and Veterinary First Aid in a wonderful pay scale hardly a young graduate could expect !
At that time we had an impression that NDDB was “heaven on earth” and it would be just a golden opportunity to grab it !
I approached my Professor and counsellor Dr.Anjaria who pushed me and helped me obtain the form which I filled and submitted for the post of Assistant Executive !
Ultimately the day for interview arrived and I entered in the vast panoramic scenic area of NDDB premises ,so clean and neat people were quite punctual standing in a queue to sign muster in the high rise multi-storey office buildings. Hostel area was amazing.
I was very nervous as it was my second job interview of my life, tension was grabbing me what sort of interview would be there and how they conduct !
We were in all 28 candidates. We were asked to sit and wait on the sprawling lush green lawn. Exactly at 10 am, we were asked to appear at a written test. We moved into the hostel building and appeared at he test. In the afternoon, short listed 12 candidates were asked to appear in personal interview in the office building. Dr AA Chothani who was Head ( FO&AH ) known as a fearful person who talked in high decibels which made almost all the candidates feel pangs of pain down the spine !
Those who came out after appearing at the personal interview were quite dejected may be due to nervousness unable to face such ferocity!
When my turn came I was almost trembling while entering interview room. Inside it was like “bombardment” of volley of questions mostly asked by Dr.Chothani about my experience and present job in his fearful tone. Towards the end Dr. Chothani told me that he will ask only one technical question and if I answered correctly he would select me !
I just concentrated and focussed and with deep breathing prepared for the question that was to decide my future !
“When does a cat ovulate and how does one know that it has mated? “ Within seconds as if an invisible third force helped me and before any one could say say “Jack Robinson”, I answered spontaneously and correct,y. He seemed quite satisfied with my answer which made me happy to see my dream coming true to serve at NDDB!
Finally seven of us were selected and asked to go for medical examination at Dr.AshabhaiPatel ‘s consulting room at Amul dairy.
All selected candidates were quite elated and happy. But the joyous time ended abruptly !
Once we reached Amul and met Dr.Ashabhai we found that he was shouting at candidates who forgot to bring their complete documents. “Please go and bring your paper” would yell at the candidate who did not have complete papers. Many would have their heartbeat go up and run to bring their missing papers.
However, fortunately I was among those who had all their documents !
Dr. Ashabhai then commanded us stand in a line and to open up our pant for examination which we found unusual but there was no option!
All of us then stood with our pants down. He came to each of us and almost quizzed the testicles to examine, which was quite a painful process! On checking my eyes on opthelmological examination ,I had number for long sight so asked me to prepare specks and further report to NDDB!
And ,ultimately I was on ninth cloud when I received the order to join NDDB in 1977 ,after three months of training at Head Quarter at Anand ,I was placed at Sabarmati Ashram Gaushala Project at Ahmedabad as Training Incharge for AI & vety.!First Aid !
It was an eventful day and I learnt a lesson I to be punctual and face any situation with careful preparation, confidence and discipline.
“It was on 15th October 1969 that I received a message from Nagpur Veterinary College, where I had studied as a student, informing me that Shri Manibhai Desai from Uruli Kanchan was visiting the college for selecting fresh graduates for Bhartiya Agro Industries Foundation (BAIF).
By that time I had only heard the name of Shri Manibhai Desai but was not aware about BAIF and it’s activities. However, since I received a separate message from the Professor of Gynecology recommending that I must avail the opportunity, in about a week I attended the interview held in Principal’s Chamber.
The interview panel comprised Shri Manibhai Desai and his two colleagues. They had travelled all the way from Pune to Nagpur by ambassador car. During my interview he hardly asked any questions. He, however, shared with me a lot of information about BAIF and it’s future programs. He said that the ICAR had recognized BAIF as a Research Foundation and it would be possible for employees to take up field problems and pursue studies leading to award of MVSc.
After the Interview he announced that I have been selected as a Trainee Officer for 6 months. He said arrangements for training of those selected had been made in Bombay Veterinary College and then at Aarey Milk Colony after which we were finally to be trained at IVRI, Izzatnagar. On completion of raining the post of Veterinary Officer was to be offered with salary at par with Govt. Since the job had come almost to my doorstep I showed my willingness to join the BAIF on those terms. ” You will not be our employee, but you will be a member of our team.” He said. I was very much impressed and encouraged by his statement. He asked me to to reach Mumbai and meet him at Adarsh Dugdhalaya, Malad on the date just falling four days after the date of interview and a formal Appointment Letter would be given there. I agreed to those terms and thus my journey with BAIF began.
On the third day I left for Mumbai by train and stayed overnight with my relatives.
Next day by 10 am, I went to Malad by local train and then took a Bus to reach Adarsh Dugdhalaya. I found that a group of persons was already there waiting for Shri Manibhai Desai to arrive. Among the trustees of Adarsh Dugdhalaya one was called Keshavbhai alias Keso Kaka. Dr. C.R. Sane, Prof. of Gynecology, Bombay Veterinary College was also there along with a group of six Trainee Officers selected from amongst the fresh graduates of Bombay Veterinary College. I was the only graduate having come all the way from Nagpur.
Shri Manibhai Desai arrived there by 11 am as we were getting introduced to each other and engaging in small talk. Two persons who had to accompany him on the tour, Dattoba Kanchan and Dr. Arun Phatak were also there. When he came out of his car Shri Manibhai was happy to see me. Immediately we proceeded to a hall where sitting arrangement was made in Indian style.
In a very informal way the meeting began. After his welcome by the trustees Shri Manibhai Desai introduced his entire team to the trustees. He said few sentences about his visit to Nagpur and my selection.
Then he said about the necessity of increasing productivity of cows and the support he was getting from institutes keeping cows (Panjarpol) and other agencies like Cooperative Sugar Factories.
The discussion that followed was mostly in Gujarati but surprisingly I was able to follow it. Prof. Sane was also supporting Manibhai’s view point that the cross breeding of cows with Jersey and Holstein breeds was better option to achieve progress in a short duration rather than going by method of selective breeding. Shri Manibhai Desai told about the donor agencies who had come forward to provide frozen semen for this program. However, Prof Sane said that it was necessary for the field staff to identify problems of infertility in cows so that frozen semen was used only after addressing to that problem. Shri Manibhai then explained his arithmetic that a farmer in sugarcane dominated area can grow leguminous fodder like lucerne and maintain four crossbred cows per acre of land and this way he can earn more profit than he would get from one acre of sugarcane. He said that the Sugar Factories also supported his view point since that would give a steady income to their farmers members.
The trustees of Adarsh Dugdhalaya were following that discussion very well. Their dairy farm in Mumbai was famous for buffalo milk but they had also realized that keeping crossbred cows was a good option and can cater to certain segment of consumers. They had a small herd of cows and they were willing to go for cross breeding. Shri Keso Kaka then spoke about his views on milk marketing and shared the observations he had made during his recent visit to Denmark. He mentioned about packaging of milk. ” I saw milk in plastic pouches.. there is machine that packs milk in plastic pouches… and it is so tough .. a delivery boy even if he throws… it does not burst…. ( दूध प्लास्टिकनी कोथळीमां भरवामां आवे छे .. डेलिव्हरी करनार छोकरो एने दूरथी फेके ते छतां कशुना थाय. ) He said that in India there should be such machines and Adarsh Dugdhalaya would be interested if Manibhai could bring this technology under his project.
However, Shri Manibhai did not comment on this because milk marketing was not a priority item for him. For fresh graduates like us this discussion was very academic in nature as it related to Milk Production and Marketing at the same time.
It is to be noted that on that day in October 1969 in entire India at only one place under the auspices of Indo Swiss Project at Mattupatty Artificial Insemination Programme with Frozen Semen in the Project Area had been started in project area by 1965 , and in the entire Kerala state by 1969 !
However, there was not a single Milk Packing Machine in any Dairy in any sector.
After that meeting we had a sumptuous Gujarati lunch arranged in somebody’s house there. The household women were serving delicious food while caring for each and everyone of us. It was my first experience of Gujarati hospitality that was remarkable. After lunch somebody gave me my formal Appointment Letter. How it had come there I didn’t know but in response I gave my joining report. Late in afternoon Shri Manibhai Desai left for Uruli Kanchan and our group of Trainee Officers was left behind under the guidance of Prof. Sane. We continued to be with him and under his instructions for several days. That was followed by our training in Aarey Milk Colony till the end of December 69. We were thereafter sent to IVRI for further training.
On completion of training at IVRI we returned to Uruli Kanchan in April 1970. By that time the group strength had become twelve hence we were calling ourselves as Dirty Dozen. On arrival we underwent orientation program for about ten days. In May 1970 we received appointment letters as Veterinary Officer. Afterwards many of us were posted either in Cooperative Sugar Factories or Panjarpol Sanstha. Those left behind either awaited the posting orders or assigned some duties at HQ. I was retained at HQ to arrange supplies to field centres.
The month of May started and one day unexpectedly Shri Manibhai Desai called me and my colleague Sudhir Sane to his room and told that we were to accompany him and Dr. MR Marathe ( Senior most Director) on a tour to Gujarat and Sourashtra for ten days. That was to be a real journey with him ! He asked us get ready to leave on the very next day. A driver by name Dashrath was to drive the ambassador car. We all were to meet Shri Manibhai Desai at h, Pune by 4 pm and journey was to begin from there. As a Member of the Senate of Mahatma Phule Krishi Vidyapeeth (MPKV) he had one meeting to attend and then we were to proceed on journey.
Next day in the afternoon we reached College of Agriculture in time but Shri Manibhai was still busy in the meeting. By the time he came out we were late by one hour. As we started our journey he said that the main subject had taken lot of time but fortunately it was decided that the MPKV would establish a Farm to produce Triple Crossbred Bulls for judging their merit by way of recording milk production of their daughters. In other words it was aimed at producing Proven Bulls but they were to have blood origin from two exotic breeds and one Indian breed. The MPKV was to establish Bull Mother Farm of Gir cows and they were to be crossed with Holstein and Jersey breeds to produce triple cross bulls in third generation and the project was to be funded by ICAR. Shri Manibhai and Dr. Marathe went on discussing that issue which was a good learning for me and Sudhir. That night we made a halt in Mumbai. I stayed with Sudhir since his parents lived in Sion.
Next day as we as began our journey things became clearer. We were actually going to Sourashtra to select Gir cows and heifers for that ICAR sponsored project for which Shri Manibhai Desai was to help MPKV in selecting right type of animals.
In that exercise we were to cover number of places like charitable Panjarpols as well as few commercial farms where Gir herds were maintained for a number of years. It was clear that Shri Manibhai knew exactly where to go and which place to visit. Accordingly he had informed the dates and timings of our visit to all the places.
As we were passing through Surat district Shri Manibhai opened a topic for debate with me and Sudhir. He asked us to prove how crossbred cows were better than buffaloes. I was surprised and I narrated usual advantages in favor of crossbred cows like better growth rate, early maturity and lesser age at first calving, regular estrous cycle etc. but Shri Manibhai counter questioned each time saying that all these are related to the management and could be true in case of buffaloes too.
According to him if buffaloes were managed as well as crossbred cows they would perform better than the latter. He argued that buffalo milk having higher fat content and more solids has to be compared applying correction factor and then compared with cow milk and on that basis a buffalo producing 1800 liters per lactation would win over a cow even if she produces 2500 liters. His arguments were baffling for us since we could never imagine him talking in favor of buffaloes. Finally I told him in plain words that it was not possible for us to imagine him as champion of buffaloes and therefore we could not argue with him. On that sentence he had a hearty laugh and our debate ended. That night we had a halt in Baroda and we all stayed in the house of Shri Gulab bhai, the brother of Shri Manibhai. We all had dinner there and enjoyed their hospitality.
Next day we started our journey towards north and made up to Rajkot. While on move Shri Manibhai opened a new topic. He asked us what we thought about Indian goats and their potential as dairy animals. Myself and Sudhir, we gave bookish replies. He wanted us to say something from the body conformation of the goat that we never imagined. He said that just as in case of European cow breeds three body triangles from top, bottom and sideway are described as dairy character; in the case of Indian breeds of goats we find them prominently and even in case of milch purpose Indian cows these triangles are not prominent. To impress up on his point he asked us to imagine the carcass of a Jersey cow and compare it with carcass of a Indian goat to find that the goat carcass would appear like a small version of carcass of a Jersey cow. But it would no be so in case of Indian cow. It was a big revelation as I thought about it.
Then he said about one more body point regarding the males of the species. The penis, in case of males of all breeds of goats, is tucked up to the belly and this feature is common with bulls of European breeds like Holstein, Jersey. Whereas, penis is not tucked up to the belly in case of bulls belonging to the breeds we call as milch breeds like Gir, Sahiwal and so on. In fact it is found to be hanging in folded skin towards ground. Therefore, he was of the opinion that both males and females of the Indian goat breeds having anatomical similarities with European cow breeds perhaps Indian goats had dairy potential just like Jersey cattle but it is not tapped yet.
On our way we had lunch and tea times. Shri Manibhai gave directions to our driver and took us to good restaurants. In Rajkot we entered one hotel for night halts. We were to stay there for two three days.
From next day morning we started going to various institutes to select the Gir animals. Each day we went in different direction covering parts of Jamnagar, Bhavnagar and Junagadh. I remember names of few places like Sawakundala and Sanosara. We went to Morvi and also a coastal place named Sharadagram at Mangrol where we had night halt. In all we must have visited around eight or ten institutes, mostly Panjarpols. Surprisingly at all places, people knew our timing of visit very well and they arranged to show us the animals available for sale. That time there were no mobile phones, no public telephone booths, no GPS on our car; still how Shri Manibhai planned and implemented the schedule is a mystery. He never asked me or Sudhir to get down of car to enquire for direction from anybody. We had good breakfast, lunch and dinner on all days and Shri Manibhai took care of all of us offering good food and Ice Cream varieties of his choice in the end. Our stay at Sharadagram was memorable due to their extremely well house keeping and even for arrangements like playing music while milking cows.
While selecting animals at all the places Shri Manibhai was asking host of questions regarding pedigree of each animal. He would then ask us to write down those details. He wanted to select animals belonging to different families of cows where different bulls were used and inbreeding had not happened. Dr. Marathe was also asking questions related to reproductive behavior. Whenever in doubt he would ask me or Sudhir to examine the reproductive system. This way we shortlisted a number of animals at various farms and recorded their details with identification number and description.
In the last leg of our journey we attended a conference of representatives of Panjarpol Sansthas held at Jetpur. Over hundred persons must have been present there to discuss the issues and problems they faced. Shri Manibhai Desai was there almost like a chief guest and Dr. Marathe was also offered a chair on the stage. The proceedings were in Gujarati but we were able to follow. All the speeches and discussion was centered around a demand that the Government should increase the rate of subsidy on maintenance of cows.
They were finding it difficult to feed the cows in the subsidy amount they were getting on per day basis. Dr. Marathe spoke in Gujarati to say that that the Panjarpol Sansthas ought to follow scientific approach rather than dwelling on sentiments. A cross between Science and Sentiments would be Hybrid and therefore a Sterile, he said. That was followed by a speech by Shri Manibhai. He said in no uncertain terms that the Panjarpol Sansthas must make efforts to increase the overall productivity of cows and go for cross breeding. He said that they should not expect the Government to compensate their losses indefinitely which amounted to wasting of public money. In stead, they must follow scientific practices and become self- reliant, he said. It was rather unwelcome statement for that conference but Shri Manibhai had said it !
With these accomplishments we started our return journey thereafter. Almost fifty years have passed since then but I still recall the memorable journey I had with Shri Manibhai Desai.
A thought provocative article as usual from from Harish Damodaran.
Harish Damodaran is known for his writings on Indian Agriculture. The proposed reforms in Agriculture sector are no doubt praise worthy. However, now that these these long awaited steps have been taken, will the politics of our land make it happen?
We live in times when “Confrontation” has obliterated “Consensus” so much that the very thought of reaching on a consensus on any critical issue concerning any approach to development of Indian economy appears like a dream. The question is that will these policy pronouncements be effectively implemented and if yes by when?
Similar questions can be raised about opening of mining sector, privatisation of six airports, enhancing limit of investments by foreign companies in defence sector etc. too.
Dissent and debate on socio economic issues are as essential elements in a democratic polity as agreement and consensus. However, dissent and debate up to a point is fine but in order to move ahead a decision has to be taken and respected by all as only then some action can be taken for the good of all.
However, the political divide is now so wide that there does not seem to be even a semblance of agreement on the approach to fight the Corona tragedy.
Let us take the example of on going Corona epidemic. Twelve crore migrant labourers have not sprung up this year only. This is our legacy inherited from the way economy has been handled since independence irrespective of which party was in power. As Dr DC Sah argues the “do gooding” attitude of various Governments for the poor without giving adequate attention to the consequences seems to have greatly contributed to the abnormal rise in numbers of daily wager temporary migrant workers.
He points out “Probably, two policies, both taken up in good faith, first one in 1950s, land distribution to tillers and sharecroppers, and another, taken up, some time back, NREGA, are the reasons for this.”
Coming back to the proposed policy change and legislation the finance Minister states “…will amend the Essential Commodities Act (ECA) to “deregulate” agricultural foodstuffs — including all cereals, pulses, oilseeds, onions and potatoes — and allow clamping of stock limits on these only under “very exceptional circumstances” like natural calamities and famines, which cause a “surge in prices”.
Same Government which till September last had declared stock limits under essential commodities act in nine month now proposes to bring out a new liberalised policy which will do away with Agricultural Produce Marketing Committees and Mandi Boards.
How will they do away with the vested interests who run these Committees and boards? Through an ordinance ? But will it pass the test of legislative approval in Parliament?
And was this a time to make policy pronouncements of this nature at this time?
Are we under an emergency?
Could they not have thought of a policy like what Dr Kurien envisaged in late forties and worked assiduously at one place called Anand to achieve his vision for self sufficiency in milk for the nation.?
How soon we as a nation forgot the Market Intervention Operations started during Rajiv Gandhi Government by NDDB headed by Dr Kurien which in a short time made the country almost self sufficient in edible oils and then due to lack of policy support from the government this initiative was given up. The result is for all to see. How much foreign exchange we spend on import of edible oil?
Dr. Kurup worked with the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) of India from 1969 to 1993 serving as a member of the of the Board and Executive Director of NDDB from 1991-1993.
As an International Consultant on Livestock and Dairying since 1993 he has worked countries across the world in Asia, Europe,North and America. He is currently based in Toronto.
Some time ago , I was asked by the veterinarians in Kerala , to write them a note on my working life , as many among the younger colleagues in the profession wanted to know what all , exactly , a “Distinguished Alumnus” of the Kerala Veterinary College did with his professional life. What follows is what I wrote for them.
Recently , Dr.Mathew Abraham invited me to join the AKVNA and I would be delighted to do so. I thought to sent you the note below so you can forward it to him and he can use it to introduce me to the mambers of the AKVNA.
I must begin by stating that I was incredibly lucky in my life and career , often because of the circumstances I was in and the Mentors who groomed me as a young professional , particularly Dr.M . N . Menon , who was my Professor , Principal and then my Director, all the time I was a young Veterinary Surgeon in the Kerala State Department of Animal Husbandry . The most critical and benevolent of his career decisions for me was to advise me to choose the option of working in the Indo-Swiss Project , Mattupattywhich was just about to start then (1963 ) while I also had the option to join the faculty of the Veterinary College , Mannuthy , as a Junior Lecturer!
When I qualified as a Veterinarian in 1959 , I thought I would finally, at the end of things, wind up as a back country pill roller in some obscure village. There was no room for ambition as the profession had still not opened up to specialisations in products and services other than care and treatment of very low producing primitive livestock.
My choice of the Indo-Swiss project as my launch vehicle, however turned out to be providential and from there to the NDDB was the start of an epic voyage into an ocean of knowledge, skills, technology and development. I was lucky to be part of a saga of unprecedented growth , development and adventure, in a sector never before seen as a tool for human and economic development. Also It gave me the opportunity to be part Dr.Kurien’simmaculate team , with a ring side seat all through the next 25 years , and with him as my friend , philosopher , guide
Personally for me it gave an incredible and vibrant career catapulting me into the vortex of professional excellence , enormous executive freedom , exhaustive and extensive global travel and unbelievably exotic tasks and opportunities. After 25 years of this wonderful exposure, I demited office in NDDB as its Executive Director and Board Member in 1993 and started practicing as an International Consultant in , Livestock , Dairy and Livestock Related Livelihood , with instant recognition and burgeoning demand. Initially I had the GOI and State Governments as my Clients and soon I was grabbed by the World Bank in 1994 , as a Short Term Consultant.
Even though I was financially comfortable, and professionally satisfied, World Bank offered me a work culture, work ethics, and financial compensation never before experienced: they respected my professional skills and experience, my competence and above all , my recommendations. They paid me extremely well, totally tax free, all travels by business class, top five star hotels for field missions everywhere and all expenses at actuals without limit. I covered for the World Bank the whole of India, and all of South Asia including Afghanistan. I worked for the World Bank for 17 long years and opted for retirement when I reached the age of 75 in 2011.
I had so far in this write up , been waxing eloquent for long now, mostly blowing my own trumpet and now I seek your indulgence for the final act of impertinence , of attaching my CV to this mail, to give you a cursory view of my entire working life.
With best wishes for a healthy and happy life for you all and with my loving regards for you all and your families.
It is said that when Ādi Śaṅkara ( in eighth century AD) was a young boy of eight and wandering near River Narmada, seeking to find his guru, he encountered the seer Govind Bhagvadpada who asked him, “Who are you?”. The boy answered with these stanzas, which are known as “Nirvāṇa Shatkam” or Ātma Shatkam”. Swami Govindapada accepted Ādi Śaṅkara as his disciple. The verses are said to be valued to progress in contemplation practices that lead to Self-Realization. -From Wikipedia