Amul celebrates Diamond Jubilee

Reproducing an article by Shri BM Vyas for the souvenir publised on the occassion of Golden Jubilee of Amul

Thank you for your invitation to share my memories of Amul, on the auspicious occasion of the 75th anniversary of this esteemed organisation.

Incidentally, I had joined Amul in June 1971, and that was the time Amul was celebrating its silver jubilee. It fills me with joy to see the growth, influence, and real impact of this organisation on our country.

Before I joined Amul, I had an opportunity to meet Dr. Kurien when he visited my engineering college Birla Vishwakarma Mahavidyalay (BVM) as a chief guest on an annual day. He was an impressive orator. Later, when I visited Amul Dairy, I saw a clean dairy plant, well maintained gardens, and people behaving very professionally. I liked the place, the cleanliness, the discipline, and it reflected Dr. Kurien’s values.

I was only 20 years old at that time, but I decided to apply for a job at Amul Dairy. I sent my CV and after a written test, multiple interviews by different Heads of Departments, and by the General Manager – I formally received a selection letter.

In all this, I had very little idea that Amul is a co-operative organisation! I joined because the salary was good, and I was keen to make the best of my engineering degree!

Surprisingly, soon after we joined the Board decided to grant two salary increments, including to all new officers. This was great, as my colleague and I, who had started together, both received an unexpected salary increment and an invitation to attend the silver jubilee celebration.

Now we believed that as Officers, we should present ourselves formally and that we would be looked after at this function. So, here we were, in our neatly ironed shirts and ties, at the main gate of Amul – hoping that someone would be there to look after us.

Just as we reached the dairy main gate, we saw a sea of farmers – men and women from villages, coming in waves from the parking spaces and surging towards the venue. At that moment, after we managed to deal with the disbelief of what we had just witnessed, we turned around and removed our tie – never to be worn again.
As we both walked to our seating area near the stage, we truly realised the size of this mammoth organisation. Working in a modern dairy plant, in neat buildings and with other officers – we had never realised who we were really working for.
This event truly opened our eyes.

Tribhovandas Patel spoke with vigour and in his speech, he emphasised that in this cooperative, we the Board members, leave our political cap outside at the main gate and our purpose is only the well-being of dairy farmers. Dr Kurien spoke in English, and Shri V H Shah translated his speech in Gujarati. Dr H M Patel also spoke and then finally, the Hon. Finance Minister Shri T A Pai took to the stage. This event is still etched in my memory, as it changed by understanding of what and who Amul is.

Many years later there was a workers strike in Amul, and as officers we stepped in to ensure the dairy went about its business. I remember unloading cans on the dock along with my fellow officers from the Department. The very next day, a large number of young farmers came to the plant and were assigned some key areas to help the team as the Dairy negotiated a solution with the workers. This was a sense of ownership the farmers had for their Dairy, and they were going to look after it.

These incidents made me realise that Amul is a different organisation. It removes poverty, emancipates women, gives people ownership of their own destiny and economic progress. It breaks the caste system, and it builds a new India. It provides health and nutrition to a growing nation. There is no development model, as comprehensive as Amul!

I stayed on and worked at Amul Dairy and then GCMMF for forty years and had the opportunity to lead as the Managing Director of GCMMF for 17 long years. This included the transformation of our organisation to break out of a mindset of operating in an early protected environment, to thrive in a liberalised economy full of competition.

This certainly wasn’t easy, but I was standing on the shoulders of giants – Sh. Tribhovandas, Dr. Kurien and Sh. H M Dalaya and great engineers such as Sh. V H Shah, Sh. G R Shridhrani and Sh. J J Baxi of GCMMF.

Amul has always given freedom and unstinted support to professionals. Allowed them to take daring measures without fear of failures. For me, it’s my karma bhumi. Amul always allowed me freedom to operate, freedom to question existing paradigms, experiment and adopt change for good.

Amul is a model. Brand Amul protected farmers of Kaira until 1970, but as GCMMF was formed the Amul brand umbrella was extended to all milk producers who were welcome to join GCMMF and benefit from brand Amul.

But the changes to liberalisation, policies on privatisation and globalisation were rapidly changing the Indian society. Consumers of India are changing. Expecting these changes, we have moved out of Gujarat, and successfully captured big metro markets like Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Kanpur, Lucknow, Pune and so on.
This ensured that brand Amul was available to consumers of India, and to the farmers across India!

Even today, Amul is the single largest entity that protects the future of Indian farmers and agriculture. Farmers and the Board of Amul, have a huge responsibility to not only protect the interests of the Kaira Union, or GCMMF, but of entire Indian agriculture. Amul is the soul of Indian white Revolution and Indian agriculture. Without the incentive and income from milk, will our agriculture be viable?
Kaira Union is the owner of the brand Amul, and it is your foresight and sense of Gandhinian trusteeship that has made it formidable! I am very proud of the Amul Board of Directors, the farmers of Kaira Union and of Indian agriculture to have nurtured this unique model.

Amul today is a Rs. 55,000 crore brand and is destined to cross Rs. 100,000 crores in a few years. But as Dr Kurien told me once, it is not the revenue turnover but its purpose that is most important! It must serve the farmers first and through that, this great nation.

The Board of Amul has a huge responsibility and carries the reputation of 75 years of trust and heritage. They are the trustees of not only Amul dairy, but in true sense the entire white revolution. Amul is watched by the whole world, and I have faith that the leaders will maintain the highest quality, high moral standards, and dynamism to stay miles ahead.

Future will judge you more critically now, and I am sure you will do the best for Amul and Indian agriculture.

Finally, I would like to pay tribute to Sh. Tribhovandas and Dr Kurien, and congratulate our farmers, the Board of Directors, including managing director on this historic milestone.

Dr. Kurien and the first BOHO dinner

RK Nagar
RK Nagar

BOHO, or whatever this acronym stands for, is the Social club of the National Dairy Development Board established after we moved to the campus in 1970.

The dinner was organised on the 1st of April 1971. The venue, main lobby of the old hostel. Apart from NDDB staff and their families, we had some participants from Amul as well. No need to mention, Dr and Mrs Kurien were there to take part in the fun.

Shri Anirudhan, Assistant Secretary, NDDB was ‘elected’ as the first BOHO king by random picking of slips from a bowl. It is a different thing that all the slips had only one name. He was a great sport and carried out his ‘Duty’ as the King with aplomb. 

One part of the dinner was ‘party games’ and on agenda was a very popular game where participants pick a slip from a bowl, read the slip and enact what is in the slip. It could be a dance step, singing a song or a mimicry act whatsoever. 

When the bowl passed at Dr. Kurien, he picked a slip too. He was a great sport and ready to enact what the message on the slip demanded. He opened the slip, read it, folded it, looked at the expectant audience, smiled and kept quite. He then showed it to Mrs Kurien, then they both smiled. We were all anxious to know what message does the slip contain and eagerly looked forward to his act. 

But he just kept smiling. When all of us wanted to know what is he going to do, he passed the slip to master of ceremonies-Ashok Koshy and asked him to loudly read it. 

And the slip said, “What would you do if you were the Chairman of NDDB”. 

This is called some ‘party luck’. 

Pictures courtesy G Rajan and SB Sen Mazumdar

A polygraphed magazine Facts and Solid non Facts was started and a competition to suggest a name for the club was organised by Shri Ashok Koshy, IAS the then Executive Assistant to Chairman NDDB and later Director ( Administration ) who was the moving force behind organising this social club. Entry fee was Rs 1/-. A total of31 entries were received. Finally the jury selected BOHO as the official name of the club. If I remember correctly it was PT Jacob who suggested the name BOHO and got the prize of Rs 31/- Many believe that B in Boho stands for Buffalo making BoHO as Buffaloes of the highest order. The opinion is highly divided as B stands for many other words in English. 😁🙏🏼

The Spoiler

RK Nagar, in his inimitable style of weaves a nostalgic tale of his younger days and his indulgence in food. Why he decided to put a headline for this story as “ The spoiler” only he knows.

It is his story and about him, but as he puts it, he sees “no harm in starting this story with this title for my friend.”

Calling him a spoiler would be a bit too much, but I see no harm in starting this story with this title for my friend.

And the reason is simple. He ‘introduced’ me to non-vegetarianism- not jokes- FOOD!

Yes that is right. Till I met him, I had at best had an occasional egg, mostly boiled while eating out with friends. It is because I come from a strictly vegetarian family. We were not just vegetarian, we were very ‘Satvik’ in the sense that even onions and garlic didn’t make it to my mother’s kitchen.

Of course over time it changed. I vaguely remember that when I was in tenth grade that I first had raw onion with my food at home. It was introduced by my elder brother who was doing his engineering in Gujarat and having raw onion with Gujarati snacks is a must, especially if you have items like ‘fafda’. 

I had my first egg when I entered college. I was in pre university and during our practicals of animal husbandry, we had to work on the college poultry farm. Towards the end of the class, we were allowed to buy subsidised eggs from the department sale counter. Since most of us in the class were vegetarian, some of us- more adventurous types, bought an egg, cracked it and gulped the raw egg. So, it was taking nutrition without feeling the taste of the egg. Then came the boiled egg stage at home but it still wasn’t in my mom’s kitchen. I was permitted to boil it in a separate vessel on a stove placed in the farthest corner of the terrace.

Since our cook Raoji had cooked our usual vegetarian food while my friend was away in the market, I waited for my friend to finish his cooking so that we could have our lunch together

But this ritual broke when I came to Anand simply because eggs were not available in the market. I mean they were available but in very limited quantity. The sole seller had perhaps a dozen hens and he got another 50 or so eggs from Baroda- in an earthen matka. His entire stock used to get sold out by 9-10 am. When I asked him why he doesn’t get more eggs from Baroda, his cryptic reply was, ‘that is total demand of Anand. If you want eggs, tell me a day before with advance payment’.

Simply put, if you wanted eggs, you had to go to him the previous evening in good time for him to send a message to his Baroda supplier. It was virtually making a “prayerful request to the hen to lay an egg for you for the next day”. You had to specify the numbers and the time of pick up. If by any chance you were late in picking your order, the eggs were sold away to someone else.

Manibhuvan days at Anand

So, my enthusiasm to eat eggs completely died when I came to Anand. I lost the luxury to have a not so frequent boiled egg too. 

And since Gujarati food (as it is there were very limited eating places and they all served similar limited fixed thali) didn’t suit my palate, I wondered how this Spoiler friend of mine from north India had managed to survive. He came from a family of hard core non vegetarians who loved their ‘Khade masale wala meat’. And in Anand where one could barely get eggs, for him eating good meat was a distant dream.

When I moved to share accommodation with him in ‘Manibhuvan’ , one Sunday morning he set on the parapet wall of our balcony in a pose similar to one that village folks take when they go out in darkness for morning adulation. He was unusually quiet, almost pensive. I asked him if he was ok. 

“Yes, I am”, he replied. “But then why are you so quiet”, I asked. 

“I feel like eating meat”, he said. 

“So, what is the problem? You have been in Anand for sometime and you must be knowing a place where you can get meat. Let us go there and you can have your fill”, I responded. 

“No, I want ‘khade masale wala’ meat, the type that my mother cooks”. “You don’t get it in restaurants”. 

I had only heard of meat and I didn’t know what it meant. For me meat was meat- khada masala or baitha masala or for that matter soyahua masala- was all same to me. I couldn’t help him. So, I asked, “then what do you want to do”?

“I want to cook but I can’t do it in our kitchen as YOU are a vegetarian” was his reply. 

“I have no issues with your cooking whatever you want to eat in this kitchen. It is our kitchen and you are free to cook meat. I have friends who are non vegetarians and I have shared table with them on college tours. You don’t have to deprive yourself just because I am a vegetarian”. I cleared. 

He was very happy at my reply. He immediately changed into a spotless white pajama-kurta and left on foot for market to procure meat and ‘khade masale’ for his “meal of the year”. 

He returned after about an hour and a half in a horse carriage. The way he alighted was a scene to witness, he was smiling from ear to ear, looked very happy almost triumphant. 

He kept his purchases on the kitchen platform. There was a bigger pack with about 250 grams of meat and about a dozen small ‘pudias’ containing all the ‘khada masalas’. Again changed, asked me to sit in the balcony and got down to business. It took him nearly two hours to make the long awaited dish with his mother’s recipe. 

Since our cook Raoji had cooked our usual vegetarian food while my friend was away in the market, I waited for my friend to finish his cooking so that we could have our lunch together.

Finally he emerged from the kitchen and declared, ‘I have done it, it smells exactly as what my mother’s recipe’ and added, ‘Nagar, you eat first’. 

“Why”? I asked. “Because being a vegetarian, if you see me eating meat, you may throw up. I Don’t want to spoil your lunch”. 

“Look dear, if I had to eat alone, I would have done it while you were away in the market. I waited for you so that we eat together. Now let us sit and eat. It is Sunday lunch and we must enjoy it- I my veggies and you, your meat”. 

As we set down, he waited. He didn’t start while I had finished half a chapati. So, I asked him, “why aren’t you eating? Anything wrong”. 

“No, would you like to taste the curry- just a tea spoon, just in case and that will reassure me that I have not spoiled your lunch”. 

I agreed, tasted a tea spoonful of curry followed by a small piece of meat- the size of a peanut. 

The ‘Spoiler’ had played the trick. Smart cookie. I remained spoiled for the next 30 years.

Wouldn’t you want to know the name of this spoiler? The fellow who made me recall this story- Shailendra Kumar.

A memorable moment

MM Patel
MM Patel

I heard Dr Kurien speak to a group of people only once.

While was working as a team member of NDDB Spearhead Team (SHT) at Kolhapur in 1980, I got an office order transferring me from Dairy Project (NDDB, SHT) to the newly launched NDDB Oil Seeds and Vegetable Oil Project, Bhavnagar, in October 1980.

I was nominated to part in a seminar cum training programme of ten-day duration after six months of joining at Bhavnagar. The participants were staff chosen from National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and Gujarat Cooperative Oilseeds Growers Federation Ltd (GROFED. The subject areas covered were Agriculture Extension and Cooperation. The venue was the government agriculture farm Talaja, Bhavnagar. Oilseeds Growers were also invited on the day of the inauguration of the programme.

At the inaugural function Shri GM Jhala and Dr Chothani from NDDB addressed the seminar. They briefed about the NDDB Oilseeds and Vegetable Oil Project designed on the Anand pattern, with oilseed processing plant so that farmers get a remunerative price and steady marketing channel for their produces. At the end of the inaguration programme I got the opportunity to propose a vote of thanks to the speakers and participants.

Later, along with other training programme participants, I visited Lokbharti, Sanosara, Gujarat Agriculture University Campus, National Research Center for Groundnut at Junagadh and Soil testing Laboratory at Gandhinagar. It was a study visit and at each of these institutions we were briefed about the objectives, operations and specific activities of the institutions we visited. We also learnt about research work being carried out at these institutes.

It was heartening to learn about the research work in oilseeds production through the development of high yielding varieties. During the training, we also had sessions conducted by NDDB officers as well as from the Agriculture and Cooperation Department of the Government of Gujarat.

The seminar cum training programme ended at NDDB Anand.

Dr Kurien Sir addressed the concluding session. He briefed us about the NDDB Oilseeds and Vegetable Oil Project which was designed on the pattern of Anand Milk Cooperatives for the Oilseeds sector. Objective being to integrate production, processing and marketing of Oilseeds and edible oils as also provision of inputs for increasing Oilseeds production under Oilseeds Producer owned cooperative institutions.

In his address, Kurien also mentioned the telephonic conversations he had with the Minister in the Government of India about our project. Dr kurien Sir spoke in English with some sentences in Gujarati, which was very sweet. At the end he asked about our working conditions and problems faced and about our remunerstion.

This gesture on his part indicated his concern for employees. He was sensitive to the needs of both the employees and the oilseeds producers.

I fondly remember this event when I heard Dr Kurien speak to the participants of the seminar cum training programme. I was lucky to have been present on that occasion.

I fulfilled my curiosity

Curiosity kills the cat, or so goes the adage, but a curious village lad from Gujarat working in villages of Maharashtra fulfilled his interest, without harming the buffaloes ! MM Patel fondly remembers his experience.

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.

The doctor agreed and taught me the pregnancy diagnosis technique and how to inject a buffalo for administering medicine.

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.

એનડીડીબી-અનુભવની પાઠશાળા

અતિતની ભીતરમાં ડોકિયું કરતા અનેક પ્રસંગોની હારમાળા ઉપસી આવે અને તેને યાદ કરી માણવાની મજા આવે ,કેટલાંક કાર્ય સ્થલે બનેલા બનાવો આજે પણ સ્મરણ પટ પર રમતા જોવા મલે અને તેને યાદ કરતાં આનંદની લહેર શરીરમાંથી પસાર થાય!

આશરે ચાર દાયકા પહેલાં જયારે મારી એનડીડીબી મા નિમણુંક થઇ અને સાબરમતી આશ્રમ ગૌશાળા,અમદાવાદ ખાતે પોસ્ટીંગ થયું ત્યારે આનંદ નો સમુદ્ર મારી અંદર હીલો ળા  લઇ રહ્યો હતો તે વખતે માત્ર છવ્વીસ વર્ષ ની આયુ મા એનડીડીબી જેવી પ્રતિષ્ઠિત અને ગૌરવશાળી સંસ્થા માં સારા પગાર સાથે એક પશુ ચિકિત્સક ને નોકરી મલવી તે ગર્વ લેવા જેવી વાત હતી !

મારા રોજબરોજના કાર્ય મા પશુપાલન ક્ષેત્રે વૈજ્ઞાનિક ઢબે પશુ સંવર્ધન માટે કૃત્રિમ વીર્ય દાનની તાલિમ આપવા સાથે પરચૂરણ ઓફીસ કાર્ય અને પશુઓની સંભાળ રાખવાનું કાર્ય મને સોંપેલ હતું. સંવેદના સાથે પશુની નજીક જઇ તેનું અવલોકન કરવું અને તેની વર્તણુક નો અભ્યાસ કરવો જે મારી અંગત રૂચિ હતી અને તે માટે સવાર સાંજ પશુઓને નિરખતો.

તે વખતે ગૌશાળા મા ગાંધીજીના સમયથી ગાયો નો રખરખાવ થતો અને આશ્રમ વાસીઓને દૂધ પૂરું પાડવાનો શિરસ્તો હતો. એક સફેદ કામધેનું જેવી ગાયે જોડકા વાછડાનો જન્મ આપ્યો જે સફેદ દૂધ જેવા અને કાલી ભમ્મર આંખો વાલા અતિ સુંદર વાછરડા ઓને મે સ્વેચ્છા એ દતક લઇ ને રોજ કસરત સાથે દોડવાની તથા કુદકા મારવાની તાલીમ આપતો!

બને વાછરડાના નામ હિરા અને મોતી રાખ્યા હતાં, રોજ તેમને નામથી બોલાવતો અને દોડતા આવી જતા ,નવડાવવા સાથે શિંગડે તેલ લગાવી ને ચમકતા રાખતો અને જોતજોતામાં તો આ વાછરડા દોઢ વર્ષ ના થઇ ગયા! મુલાકાતી ઓ તેને જોઇને અચરજ પામતાં અને ઉંચી કિંમત આપવા તેયાર હતાં પણ આતો અમારા જીગરના ટૂકડા વેચાય કેમ!

એક દિવસ અમારા બોસ ડો ચોથાણી સાહેબ કોઇ કાર્ય માટે ઑફિસમાં આવ્યા ,એક એવું વયકતિતવ કે તેમને જોતાં જ ડર લાગે અને બોલે એટલે નોન સ્ટોપ, પરન્તુ હદયના નિખાલસ!  તેમણે બધાના કાર્ય વિષે પૂછપરછ કરી અને દરેક વિભાગ ની મુલાકાત લીધી.’આ સિવાય બીજું શું કામ કરો છો તમે ?’ એવું પૂછતાં મે ગભરાતાં ગભરાતાં જવાબ આપ્યો પશુને પણ તાલીમ આપુ છું એવુ જણાવતા તેઓ વિસ્મય પામ્યા અને મને કહ્યુ કે ‘ હિરા મોતી બતાવ’! મે વિગતવાર તેમની સાથે વાત કરી અને ડેમો આપ્યો તો તેઓ ખુશ ખુશ થઈ ગયા અને કહ્યુ કે ‘વાહ આતો ન માની શકાય તેવુ !પણ હવે હૂ તને ખાસ સૂચના આપું છું કે તારે એવી તાલીમ આપવાની કે કુરિયન સાહેબ પણ તેમનાં ગલા મા હાથ નાંખી ને ઉભા રહે તેવું તારે કરવાનું છે અને હુ કુરિયન સાહેબને અહી લઇને આવીશ ‘આ સાંભલી ને મારાં તો હોશ ઉડી ગયા અને ‘And Boss is always right ‘એ કહેવત ને ધ્યાને લેતાં મે મારું માથું હલાવી મૂક સંમતિ આપી પરન્તુ મનમાં એવો વિચાર આવ્યો કે ‘જોષી તારી નોકરી ગઇ’!

પછીના દિવસો બહુ ઉચાટ અને ગભરાટ સાથે વિત્યા,રાતે ઉઘ પણ ન આવે ,સપનાં મા ચોથાણી સાહેબનો રોફદાર ચહેરો દેખાય!અને એક દિવસ સાહેબ આવી ચડયા અને કહ્યુ ‘ચલ તૂ હિરા મોતી ને તૈયાર રાખ હુ આવું છું !’

પલની પણ રાહ જોયા વગર મે માણસોને સૂચના આપી અને બંને ને નવડાવી ધોવડાવી,ઉચ્ચ પ્રકારનો ખોરાક આપી,શિંગડા ઉપર તેલ લગાવી,બંનેની પીઠ ઉપર રંગબેરંગી ઝૂલ નાખીને વરરાજા જેવાં તૈયાર કરી,ચોથાણી સાહેબને તેમની બાંધવાની જગ્યા એ લઇ ગયો!બંનોનો વિકાસ જોઈને સાહેબ ખુશ થઈ ગયા અને મને આદેશ આપ્યો ‘પહેલાં તૂ જા અને ગલામા હાથ નાંખી ઉભો રહે !’આદેશ મુજબ હું આત્મ વિશ્વાસ સાથે ગયો અને વારાફરતી બંનેને પૂચકારીને ગલામા હાથ નાંખી ભેટ્યો,બંને શાંતિ થી ઉભા રહ્યા! હવે સાહેબ નો વારો હતો અને જેવા નજીક ગયા કે તુરંત શિંગડા ઉગામ્યા અને સાહેબ બે ડગલાં પાછાં હટી ગયા અને તેમને સમજાય ગયું કે પશુ સંવેદનશીલ હોય છે ,સાથે રહો તો પ્રેમ ની ભાષા સમજે છે !સાહેબે મારી પીઠ થાબડી અને કહ્યુ જોષી તૂ મારી પરિક્ષા મા પાસ થયો અને પછી આનંદથી વિદાય થયા!

આવી હતી બોસની કરડાકી ભર્યા ચહેરા પાછલ છૂપાયેલી ઉદારતા, જેને આજે પણ યાદ કરતા ધન્યતા અનુભવું છુ!

NDDB campus life Reminiscences from the 1970’s

G Krishnan
G Krishnan

Here is a small trip down the memory lane.For many of the Junior Officers who resided in the NDDB campus at Anand in the early 1970’s,the ubiquitous table pictured below is sure to bring about nostalgia.

These handcrafted tables were on sale during the evening hours just outside the Baroda railway station. And the price? A mere Rs.5!Carting a couple of them to Anand was no hassle either. There used to be a Baroda- Ahmedabad passenger train leaving the station at 6 PM, reaching Anand around 7 PM. However, transporting them to the campus was more cumbersome than carting them from Baroda to Anand! If memory serves me right,autorickshaws were either rare or yet to make its appearance in the visibility of the Anand station.

Initially, I had picked up one table and paid Rs.5.However,the next year when we picked up another unit , we had to pay Rs.7.But ,at such prices one does not complain.

The one pictured here is still in perfect shape and serves me well. And believe me, during the past 40 odd years, I have carted the guy to Delhi, Bombay, Madras and Cochin in trucks packed like sardines. Sadly,I lost its identical twin in 2000,while transiting from Madras to Cochin.

The second photograph of the three cute looking coffee mugs too have another fascinating story to tell. They were also picked up from Baroda sometime in 1977.Remember, during those days Anand was still a one horse town.

It was a case of the proverbial love at first sight! I first saw it on Professor Michael Halse’s office table. And over the next few weeks, I realised that it was a regular presence on his table. I am sure that the learned Professor must have noticed my envious glances at the mug. But he chose to neglect it, and I felt too uncomfortable to ask him where he purchased it.

However , a few days later,I checked with his Secretary Jagadish Mehta and learned that it was purchased from a crockery shop in Baroda. Other than that he could not tell me anything more. Though disappointed, there was hardly anything that I could do about it.

A couple of months passed by.And then Hey Presto ! One afternoon I found myself in the Office Library ( then located in the hostel building). I noticed librarian Jyotiben Patel holding a copy of the now-defunct Illustrated Weekly of India. And the outside back cover carried a full-page colour advertisement of the same coffee mugs with the accompanying jug.

Sadly, the advertisement carried only the name of the manufacturer-Standard Potteries and not that of the distributors in Gujarat.

However,the disappointment did not last long .During our next visit to Baroda for some small shopping,I stumbled upon the object of my desire in a largish ceramic shop in the Mandvi area!

Though we picked up 6 mugs and the accompanying jug, sadly only tthree survive today. But,as the saying goes,one has to be grateful for small mercies!

Even after four decades, I continue to use them every day. And every time I see the mugs which I have lovingly named as ‘ Mike’s Mugs’, fond memories of the late Professor flashes through my mind.

Aameen Khan Rahut writes about his passion and professional life journey!

Amin Khan Rahut
Amin Khan Rahut

My professional life centres around three prestigious Institutions, and even after my retirement, it has remained almost the same.

I joined Indian Dairy Corporation (IDC) in the year 1973. I was only 22 years old then. I shifted to Anand to work for the Coordination Department of IDC. When IDC merged into National Dairy Development Board in 1987, I also worked with the Chairman’s office.

I was lucky to have had the opportunity to work directly with very respected professionals from these organisations; Dr MPG Kurup, Late Shri ZS Chhatwal, Shri N. K. Chawla, Dr RS Khanna and Shri B. M. Vyas. Each of them besides being a boss were very good mentors.

I thank Dr RS Khanna who is responsible for my induction into IDC. He was the one who encouraged me to get into theatre in Baroda before I moved to Anand.

Last but not the least I thank Shri BM Vyas, former Managing Director of GCMMF, for whom I worked as his Executive Assistant. Shri Vyas sir has shown me the world of Dairy Marketing. He is the responsible for my overall growth in the field of Marketing. And he is still supporting me. For the past 25 years we are together and I am still working for him.

While working with the Chairmans office I worked closely with Shri Shailendra Kumar, whom I respect. He always appreciated my work and when I was wrong, criticised also.

But there is another side of my persona. Even before I got into a job, I participated in theatre.

While at NDDB, Anand, I got ample opportunities a conducive environment to explore and expand further my theatre activities. I was able to develop many employees of the organisations where I worked and their family in theatre. I also worked closely with like minded theatre persons from IRMA and Dairy Science College, Anand.

Under the aegis of BOHO Club I received all the help required to pursue my passion. I also taught acting to my fellow employees and their families, including children, and we staged different types of plays, dances, etc., each year on the eve of 26th January, 15th August, BOHO Day and so on.

Over time, I developed a number of good quality theatre persons both male and females from these organisations.

BOHO Club got recognition through out India for its theatre activities. We also got prestigious Awards. I was awarded Sanjeev Kumar Memorial Award for Best Amateur Director in 1993 at Shimla and Best Amateur Director in 1994 at Agra. Both are National level awards. Apart from these I received six Awards for acting and direction at the State Level.

I have written and staged two plays in Hindi. Written six mono acting scripts and translated five books of plays from different languages in Hindi, and managed State and National level theatre competitions.

“DEVDASI” a play written by me two years back has got many awards at the national level University competition. My another play “SAVDHAN POLICE HAI” got nine first Awards at the National level competition.

Writing poems is my passion. I have written a number of poems. All my poems are romantic, as I feel romance of life every where. A book of my poems “EK BATTA BAHATTAR”, has recently been published by Amazon and is available on its site for sale.

I am now 70 years but still actively involved in cultural activities. I spend my time playing songs on key-board, writing poems and scripts for my young friends.

My all poems are romantic, as romance is every where.

A book of my poems “EK BATTA BAHATTAR

Recently published by Amazon available on sale

એનડીડીબી-એક અનુભવનો ખજાનો! 

રાષ્ટ્રિય ડેરી વિકાસ બોર્ડ એટલે નવોદિત અનુભવોનો ખજાનો! નેતૃત્વ શક્તિ થી માંડીને શિસ્ત તથા પડકારોનો સામનો કરવા અંગેના પ્રાયોગિક પાઠો ત્યા શીખવા મલે અને આત્મવિશ્વાસ આત્મસાત થતો રહે ! અને એટલે જ મારા જીવનનો સુવર્ણ કાલ મારા એનડીડીબી ના કાર્યકાલ દરમ્યાન મને સતત આનંદ આપવા સાથે પરિપક્વ કરતો રહ્યો.

આમ તો કેટકેટલા નવોદિત અનુભવો મને મારા કાર્ય કાળ દરમ્યાન થતા રહ્યા તેમાંનો એક સુંદર અને સંવેદનશીલ અનુભવ ને અહી કંડારતા મને હર્ષ થાય છે.અતિતના ઉંડાણમાં ડોકિયું કરતાં,1985-86 ના વર્ષ માં તે વખતના ભારતના યુવા વડાપ્રધાન રાજીવ ગાંધી દ્વારા એનડીડીબીના ચેરમેનશ્રી કુરિયન સાહેબને એક પડકારજનક પ્રોજેકટ સોપવામાં આવેલ જે તે સમયના ટેકનોલોજી મિશન અંતર્ગત લેવામાં આવેલ જેમાં સેન્ટ્રલ ગવર્મેન્ટ દ્વારા સામાજીક રીતે પછાત લોકોને ફાલવવા મા આવેલ એક રૂપિયા માંથી કેટલી રકમ વાસ્તવમાં પહોંચે છે તેનો એક સાર્વત્રિક સર્વે કરવા નુ કપરૂં અને પડકારજનક કામ હતું!

સમગ્ર દેશના વિવિધ રાજયો ના સેમ્પલ લઇને આ સર્વે ગામડાં મા વસતાં જુદા જુદા 10 પ્રકારના વર્ગો ને લઇને કરવામાં આવેલ હતો.

એનડીડીબી ના મહદ અંશે ગુજરાતી જાણતા અધિકારીઓનો સમાવેશ કરી અલગ અલગ ટીમ બનાવી તેમને રાજયના વિવિધ જિલ્લા ઓમાં મોકલવા મા આવેલ હતા.

અમારી ટીમ દ્વારા દક્ષિણ ગુજરાતનો આર્થિક રીતે પછાત વલસાડ જિલ્લો પસંદ કરવા મા આવેલ હતો.અમે વલસાડ તાલુકાના ધરમપુર ગામમાં સર્વેનો પ્રારંભ કરેલ અને નિવાસ સ્થાન ચિખલી ખાતે અલીપુર મા રાખેલ હતું.

ધરમપુર ગામમાં પ્રવેશ કરતા જ તેની ભૂગોળનો અંદાજ અમને આવી ગયો પહાડ અને ટેકરી ઉપર વસતાં આદિવાસી લોકોનાં છૂટાછવાયા ઘર હતા અને મજૂરી તેમનો વ્યવસાય હતો.નાના નાનાં ઝુંપડા મા વસતાં આદિવાસી ના ઘરે જતાં જ શરુઆતમાં તેઓ ડરી ગયા અને તેમને પકડી જશે તેઓ ભય સેવી રહ્યા હતાં. અમે તેમને અમારાં આવવાનો હેતું અમારી સાથે આવેલ લોકલ માણસ તેમજ અમારા દ્વારા સરલ રીતે સમજાવવામાં આવ્યો હતો અને પછી તેઓ ખૂલીને વાત કરતા થયા!અમોને એટલો સુંદર આવકાર આપ્યો અને તેમની શક્તિ પ્રમાણે ભોજનનો પ્રબંધ કર્યો જેમાં લાગી નામના અનાજનાં રોટલા અને ચટણી ભાવભીના થઇને અમોને પીરસી હતી ,મિઠાશ તો એટલી ન પૂછો વાત અમે આગલી ચાટતા રહી ગયા !

આ રીતે સર્વેની યાત્રા શરૂ થઈ!ગામનાં સરપંચને મલ્યા તો એવુ લાગ્યુ જાણે કે તે ગામનો રાજા હતો ,કરીયાણાની દુકાન પણ ચલાવે અને સ્કુલ નો પણ સર્વે સર્વા! લોકોને મલતી મદદ જેવી કે છાપરા,નલિયા અને ઇંટો લોકોનાં નામે તેમને ત્યા પહોંચી જતી અને બારોબાર હિસાબ થઇ જતો તેવું લોકો એ જણાવ્યું જે અમારા માટે મોટું અચરજ પમાડે તેવું હતું!

ગામમાં એક મિશનરી સ્કુલ પણ હતી પરન્તુ બહું ઓછાં બાલકો તેમા જતા અને લોકો ગભરાતા અને કહેતા હતા કે સાહેબ ત્યા તો છોકરાઓને ઇસાઇ બનાવી દે છે તમો ત્યા જતા નહી આ રીતે અમોને ગામમાં ચાલતી વટાલ પ્રવૃતિ વિષે જાણવાં મલયુ!

અમારા આશચરય વચ્ચે અમોને મહુડાના ઝાડની નીચે બાંધવામાં આવેલ એક ઝૂંપડીમાં લઇ જવામાં આવ્યા જયાં કાળાં થયેલ ડબ્બા પડેલ હતાં અને પુછપરછ કરતાં જાણ થઈ કે ત્યા મહુડાનો દારુ ગાળવાની ભઠ્ઠી હતી! અમારા જવાથી લોકોમાં ભગદડ મચી ગઇ,તેઓને લાગ્યુ કે સરકારી બાબુઓ રેડ પાડવાં આવ્યા છે!પરન્તુ,અમે તેઓને અમારા આવવાનું કારણ સમજાવ્યું.

અહી કેટલાંક પીધેલા લોકો હતા ,બવાલ કરી અંદરોઅંદર ઝગડતા હતા,એકબીજાને ગાળો ભાંડતા હતાં અમો આ દરશય જોઈ રહ્યા હતાં દુખ અને વિસ્મય સાથે હતાં! પૂછપરછ કરતાં જણાયું કે તેઓ મહુડામાથી દેશી દારૂ બનાવી વેચતા હતા.અહી ગ્રાહકો શીશો લઇને આવતા હતા અને પાંચ રૂપિયા મા દારૂ લઇ જતા હતાં,શિક્ષણનુ પ્રમાણ નહિવત્ હોવાથી આવી અનેક સામાજિક બદીઓના લોકો ગુલામ હતાં!

અમે તો દિગમૂઢ થઇ ગયા જયારે છેવાડા ના ગામ દિક્ષલની મુલાકાત લીધી! અમારા પ્રવેશ સાથે લોકો ડરીને આઘાપાછા થઈ ગયા,કપડાં માત્ર નામના પહેર્યા હતાં,સ્ત્રીઓ પણ અહીં ચિકાર દારૂ પીતી હતી !લોકોએ બુમાબુમ કરી મૂકી રાજીવ ગાંધી આયા છે! આવા અતિશય પછાત ગામડાની બિસ્માર હાલત જોઈ મારી આંખો માં આંસુ ના તોરણો બંધાણા,આ હતી આદિવાસી પછાત ગામોની અસહ્ય હાલત!

લગભગ દસ દિવસમાં અમારો સર્વે પૂરો થયો કડવાં મીઠાં અનેક અનુભવો થયા અને પછી આ સર્વે ના જયારે પરિણામ જાહેર થયા તો એવું તારણ આવ્યુ કે સરકાર દ્વારા મદદના એક રૂપિયા માંથી માત્ર પંદર પૈસા લોકોને પહોંચે છે જયારે પંચાસી પૈસા વચેટીયાઓ આરોગી જાય છે આ આપણા ભારતની વરવી ન ગમે તેવી છબી સામે આવી! ભ્રષ્ટાચાર ના ભોરિગે કેવો જીવલેણ ભરડો લીધો છે તે જોય ને હૈયું દ્રવી જાય છે !

A Chapati Tale

RK Nagar
RK Nagar

Wondering? How can there be a tale about a Chapati, but there is one.

Here it is.

Back in 1971 on NDDB campus, bachelors- some twenty of us who were eating in hostel mess suddenly lost our privilege to eat there. Most of us had to make emergency arrangements that included some self taught cooking lessons. 

The next two months after loosing the privilege were a time for most of us to learn some basic survival from hunger tricks. After all how long could we survive on bread, scarcely available eggs, butter and cheese chiplets? The Indian pallet in us needed something else- spiced veggies /curries, simple daal, rice and Chapatis. 

Whereas most of us had by this time managed to cook daal, rice and some vegetables- most of the time it used to be only potatoes and onions, rice, daal and any combination thereof became the staple. Be it lunch or dinner, any permutation had to be around these basic foods. The more adventurous ones added some fresh green veggies out of the limited choices available then. And the good old Chapati was substituted by freshly baked bread from Ambrosia bakery at Jagnath Mahadev. 

Naturally therefore, after office and sports hour which used to be mainly cricket with a tennis ball, whenever we gathered on the lawn opposite hostel after dark,the talk invariably drifted towards Chapati. How we all were missing it. That was also the time for most of us to miss and remember our “Maa ke haath kiRoti”. But there was nothing that we could do to redeem ourselves out of this situation.

“Nagar, here is 1 kg atta, now it is your turn to make the chapatis”.

On one of such evenings, one fellow became so desperate that he almost criedand blurted, ‘Oh God, how long will it be before I get to eat a Chapati? How long will I have to live on this bread from Ambrosia bakery?” And soon there were other dozen or so hungry souls crying with him for a Chapati. Call it a ‘crying chorus’.

Before the atmosphere could turn gloomy, one of them jokingly stated, “you will have darshan of a Chapati only after you get married, provided your wife knows how to cook”. This was just an innocent joke but our friend who had started it all didn’t take it kindly.

“I am talking of one NOW, the fellow who was the first to start retorted. Will I wait for a Chapati till  get married”? He reacted. His frustration with the situation was palpable. 

Sensing that matters might get sensitive, I with a simple intent to divert, said, “I know how to make Chapatis. And I can make one for you but we don’t have wheat flour and at this late hour, we can’t get it either. So wait for another occasion.”

As I made this statement, I noticed that Rajiv Varma just got up, started hisscooter and disappeared. Since, this was his usual pattern,  no one paid muchattention to it. While we were busy with a much lighter conversation on Chapati, we noticed Rajiv return with a linen bag on his shoulder.

He alighted from the scooter, from his shoulder bag he pulled out a paper bag,stretched his hand towards me and said, “Nagar, here is 1 kg atta, now it is your turn to make the chapatis”.

I was caught unawares. I had never entered the kitchen in my parent’s home and here was a paper bag full of wheat flour staring at me with two dozen hungry eyes waiting for me to say ‘yes, I will make chapatis for you’. This soon turned in a chorus demanding chapatis cooked by Nagar.  

Finding myself cornered, I tried another trick, ‘but to make chapatis, you need kitchen aids. You need a Tawa, a Chakla and a Belan and no one has that. So, wait till the kitchen aids are procured’. As I thought I had just escaped the tricky situation, Gore, pulled a rabbit, “I have an equipped kitchen. There is everything there that you need to make chapatis”. 

Oh My God, how did I forget that? Gore had a cook- Shanaji until a few days ago and he used to make chapatis for him right here on the campus! Boy, I was caught in a self created tangle.

Finding no escape, I made a bold statement, ‘alright, let us all go to Gore’s house and I will make chapatis. But there is a condition. You will have to be patient as I am doing it after a very long time and everyone gets only one Chapati. There shall be no demand for a second one’.

“Agreed”, the chorus of hungry souls said in one voice. 

In my parent’s home, I had very keenly observed my mother cook. I knew how she kneaded the dough, how she rolled out chapatis, how she baked them on tawa and how round uniformly cooked and fully inflated lovely chapatis emerged. Equipped with every bit of theoretical knowledge about Chapati making, I was all set to take a plunge to translate my knowledge into practice. 

I carefully made the dough. Kneading it by adding small quantities of water, I was able to get the right consistency- not too soft nor too hard to roll into chapatis. I proudly showed them how the dough is prepared. A dozen hungry souls were very impressed and I could see restlessness in their eyes to devour chapatis. 

Now came the real test- rolling out a Chapati. Here the difference between theory and practice became very apparent. Harder I tried to make a round shape, a new shape emerged. Chapatis in every conceivable shape emerged except the round one. Cooking them on tawa was even harder-I had no idea that temperature control is also needed and that one learns only by practice. 

My observed knowledge had failed me. Not a single Chapati was round and,except the last one that partially inflated, all other turned out as flat hard pieces of, at least fully cooked, edible, irregularity shaped something for which I can’t find a suitable name. 

Anyway, the project ‘Chapati’ was a grand success. I can vouch for it becausethe expression of the dozen hungry souls had given me a thumbs up and a standing ovation. That day I learnt that a humble Chapati can be a life saver too. 

But, I learnt a lesson. The morale of the story is- if you are surrounded by hungry souls, even if you know, never admit that you know cooking. Keep your trap shut. Second, take a good look in your closest friend’s kitchen- just in case you slip his kitchen doesn’t take you by surprise. And if you find any kitchen aids that can ditch you, secretly throw them in the farthest ditch you can find. 

Finally, the humble Chapati won the hearts of a dozen hungry souls. It all happened in good time before they could turn into ‘hungry howls’.

Fearless Karamyogi

Dr RP Aneja

~ Former Managing Director NDDB and Director and Professor Emeritus Institute of Rural Management, Anand

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”. 

The Minister did support the oilseeds project.

Persuasive Powers

Dr RP Aneja

~ Former Managing Director NDDB and Director and Professor Emeritus Institute of Rural Management, Anand

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.