Who was responsible for this revolution? Surely the farmers produced the milk but the one person who more or less single handedly organised millions of small and marginal farmers into very successful organisations was Dr Verghese Kurien.

The cooperatives Dr Kurien organised on the basis of the Anand Pattern have been responsible for the increase in milk production. They run the entire gamut of milk production—collecting and paying for it twice a day, every day; processing this milk for marketing; and conserving the seasonal surpluses into milk powder. They have conclusively proved that cooperatives do work as democratic institutions in India.

Dr Kurien always emphasised that democracy in Delhi needs to be underpinned by democracy at the grassroots level in the villages. He told his detractors that he knew more than they did about the limitations of the cooperatives, since he had worked for the cooperatives all his life and had great faith in the goodness and generosity of the rural people. He was a fi rm believer in the unmatched combination of farmers and professionals working together to serve the rural areas.

Before Dr Kurien came on the scene, the task of dairy development was being organised by the Milk Commissioners of the States. The Government Milk Schemes soon found that it was easier to use cheap imported milk powder to supply milk in the urban areas of the country than it was to pay higher prices for locally produced milk.

All these milk schemes like Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta began with good intentions. To start with they procured milk at the prevailing prices and sold at market prices. As producer prices rose, consumer prices needed to be raised. It was cheaper to bring in imported milk powder as it enabled the politicians to keep the urban prices low. As a result, India became dependent on imported milk powder and the urban market was destroyed for the rural milk producers.

Vested Interests

Also the Milk Commissioners had vested interests in the sector. Dr Kurien often stated that there were no Milk Commissioners in Denmark, the Netherlands and New Zealand but there was plenty of milk in those countries. His theory was that you could either have milk or Milk Commissioners. The Milk Commissioners in India opposed the setting up of cooperatives tooth and nail. While the Cooperative Commissioners welcomed the idea initially, they opposed it later as Dr Kurien did not want political interference in the working of these cooperatives. He often stated that the Registrar of Cooperatives was like God and the Minister in Charge of cooperatives liked being the boss of God.

An incident comes to mind: The Chief Minister (CM) of Rajasthan, Barkatullah Khan, did not agree on autonomy being given to the milk cooperatives as required under the Anand Pattern. He told Dr Kurien that Rajasthan farmers were not as capable of managing their businesses as Gujarat farmers. Dr Kurien then asked him as to how the CM was elected. The CM mentioned that he was elected from the Jodhpur Rural constituency. Dr Kurien then retorted by saying if these people were capable of electing their CM, how come they were unable to manage their own little milk business. That convinced the CM and he agreed to the Anand Pattern of Cooperatives.

Dr Kurien wanted major changes in the antiquated cooperative laws, which gave the executive all powers to supersede cooperatives. When this matter went to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, she also questioned Dr Kurien on the capabilities of our farmers to manage big business. Dr Kurien is then reported to have told her that she was talking like the British who had said that they would give Indians their freedom when they were ready. Dr Kurien went to the extent of telling her that because of our desire to govern ourselves we had fought for independence. If we wanted good governance, then maybe we should call Lord Mountbatten back.

Dr Kurien was a missionary. He was fond of saying that for him replicating the Anand Pattern was a mission and like missionaries who know only one way to God, he would support all those who follow the Anand Pattern of Milk Cooperatives. Those who followed would reach God and those who kept on discussing (like many States did and are still debating) will keep on discussing. The results are there for all to see—States like Gujarat, Rajasthan, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and some others did well. The others are still discussing.

Fearless Karamyogi

Dr Kurien was a fearless karmayogi 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, P N 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 why 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 fibreglass 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 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 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 Mother Dairy that we need your approval to this `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 Eshwaran, 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.

High Stakes

Dr Kurien played hard games with high stakes. When he presented NDDB’s Market Intervention Operation to make India self-sufficient in edible oils in five years, Rajiv Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India, questioned his targets by saying that you took 20 years in milk, how can you do this in five years.

Dr Kurien’s reply was, “This time we are asking for a complete package of policy and powers to implement it”.

“But what are the guarantees?” quipped the Prime Minister.

“Our heads”, replied Dr Kurien. He got what he asked for and made the country self sufficient in edible oils in three years instead of five.

The dairy sector in India has had some great people contribute to its growth. Some are very well known names like Dr P Bhattacharya, D N Khurody, Dr S C Ray, H M Dalaya, V H Shah, A K Ray Chaudhuri, G M Jhala, Dr Amrita Patel, etc. All of them have contributed very significantly. However, the contributions of many more have largely gone unnoticed. Some, that come to my mind are the contributions made by N Rajagopal, the then Joint Secretary (Dairy Development), Government of India; G V K Rao the then Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Agriculture; and, T N Seshan who was later the Cabinet Secretary and the Election Commissioner of India.

Rajagopal was a great human being. When I sought an appointment with him to sort out many problems that we had at the Ministry of Agriculture (MoA), he gave me a date to meet him at Krishi Bhavan. On reaching his office I was told that he was not feeling well and was on leave. Since I had spoken to him the previous evening and everything seemed to be fine, I decided to go to his home. He greeted me at the door and explained his sick leave. It was to ensure that we had all the time needed to sort out the many issues. His explanation was that how could you get much done at the office!

Rajagopal would take a bus to MoA as he had just enough money for petrol to take him for his morning game of tennis. When Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister, visited Anand for the first Convocation of IRMA in 1982, we had to tell her as to how poorly our policy makers were paid. That discussion raised the salaries of officers and a car was then provided to take them to the office and back. Eventually Rajagopal resigned from the IAS as he could not take the heavy bias the then Minister of Agriculture had against the NDDB.

G V K Rao should get full credit for the milk and silk revolution in Karnataka. When I first met him he was the Development Commissioner of Karnataka. The Government of Karnataka had prepared a usual project for dairy development at the behest of the Government of India for funding by the World Bank. Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh had also prepared similar projects, as these states were not covered by OF. The World Bank then asked these three States to rework these projects on the lines of OF. I had assisted these states in reformulating these projects.

T N Seshan was the Agriculture Secretary of Tamil Nadu in the ‘seventies. On the recommendation of his staff, he termed the Perspective Plan prepared for Tamil Nadu under OF as unacceptable. When we asked him the basis of his rejection of the Plan, his officers produced figures of current milk production in Tamil Nadu that equaled the targets the Perspective Plan had projected at the end of the Plan.

We sought a day more to have a relook at the figures. The next day we produced another set of figures (provided earlier by the same officers) to say that the current milk production was already 50 per cent more than the figure quoted by Seshan the previous day. We then congratulated Seshan on having already achieved the targets under the programme and suggested that perhaps Tamil Nadu did not need any more milk production.

We then explained that the Perspective Plan had already raised the issue of nonreliability of the milk production data and a component of the Plan was to collect the required data on a scientific basis and then aim at increasing milk production by 50 per cent over the period of implementation of the Plan. TN Seshan is a big man and saw the folly of the arguments put up by his staff and promptly approved the Plan and everything that was required to implement it.

In later years, Seshan was very supportive of the Market Intervention Operation (MIO) in oilseeds and vegetable oils as the Cabinet Secretary and Chairman of the Empowered Committee on the Technology Mission on Oilseeds. He was a great motivator in getting tough when things got rough.

Developing Electronic Milk Testing Machines

It is one of the successful technological stories under the OF project. The development of Electronic Milko Testers at the village level testing ushered in a new era in the field of dairying.

The testing of milk brought in by small farmers in tiny quantities of 2-3 litres for sale at the village cooperative society was a key element in the Amul Pattern. It enabled on the spot payment to the farmers. This made the village cooperatives unique in procuring quality milk and the entire process very transparent. This was a key part of the cooperative operations that made their milk better in quality as compared to traditional milk contractors. It also enabled the farmers to get paid twice a day, improving their cash flow and capacity to manage daily household expenses.

Gerber Test: Earlier, the Gerber Test Method was expensive and required skilled manpower. It involved measuring a precise quantity of milk into a glass butyrometer containing concentrated sulphuric acid and topping it by a small quantity of amyl alcohol.

Electronic Milko Testers from Denmark: Foss Electric A/S of Denmark was one of the world’s most successful companies manufacturing and marketing milk testing equipment. NDDB had ordered 14 of their laboratory model Milko Testers for use at the Mother Dairies in metro cities and the feeder balancing dairies set up on the Amul Pattern in the rural milksheds. These machines were expensive (about US $30,000 then) and worked on the principle of light scattering which depended on the fat content of milk. These machines were supplied by the then Foss representative in India, Larsen & Toubro Ltd (L&T), a major dairy engineering firm. These were not suitable for village use.

Foss and L&T executives visited NDDB to learn more about the OF project and look at the future demand for milk testing machines. They saw the working of a village milk cooperative and had discussions with Dr Kurien and me on the possibilities of developing a village level milk testing machine.

As a result of these discussions, Foss deputed an experienced R&D professional from Denmark (Neils Brem) to work with NDDB on this project. I was involved in the development process along with M N Vyas and C K Sharma of the R&D wing of NDDB who were using the Foss milk tester in our Product Development workshop. We suggested replacing the automatic pipettes for milk and diluent in the Milko Testers with manual push button pipettes. The use of a hand cranked homogeniser instead of the electronically operated homogeniser was suggested to make the machine simple and using less power. Foss and NDDB developed the machine further and tested it at the village level. A workable model was developed through these joint efforts and Foss was able to reduce the cost to about $1,500 per machine.

Manufacture of Milko Testers in India: At an important meeting with top level decision makers from L&T and Foss, it was proposed that L&T manufacture these machines in India to keep the cost affordable. Since I was coordinating these efforts, I suggested to Dr Kurien that NDDB instead of L&T make these machines in India. NDDB was in the process of setting up a dairy machinery manufacturing unit (IDMC) to ensure availability of good quality dairy equipment at reasonable prices. It had already demonstrated to L&T that industrial butter churns could be produced in India at a much lower cost than the prices charged by them. Dr Kurien’s reaction to my suggestion was (feigned) annoyance; stating that I wanted NDDB to make everything.

We had a perfect understanding of each other during such negotiations. I then raised the question of the need for Foss to give NDDB due credit for the joint development of the machine. Foss tried to make up for the “slight” caused to me (by Dr Kurien to favour Foss!) by immediately agreeing to Foss filing a joint patent with NDDB for the innovation. Soon, a proper MOU was signed for a joint patent between NDDB and Foss.

Subsequently, Ashok Parthasarathi, the then Secretary, Department of Scientific & Industrial Research, GoI, played an important role in the negotiations with Foss for the benefit of the milk cooperatives. As a result, a royalty payment was negotiated and NDDB got its share of the lump sum royalties paid by Rajasthan Electronics & Instruments Limited (REIL) to Foss.

Rajasthan Electronics & Instrumentation Ltd: On the basis of policy decisions taken by Ashok Parthasarathi, REIL was set up in 1981 as a joint venture between Instrumentation Ltd (a Government of India Enterprise) and RIICO Ltd (a Government of Rajasthan Enterprise). Thereafter, Ashok played a key role in policy making and smooth running of REIL. K B Agrawal who used to report to Ashok in the Department of Electronics was appointed as the first MD of REIL. Brig Narula, Chairman of IL and Anil Kumar, Chairman of RIICO were key players who had great regard for Ashok and thus gave a free hand to KB to set up a high class Milko Tester manufacturing unit. I was appointed as member of the REIL Board to ensure that the company was run efficiently and NDDB got these machines at a good price with excellent quality and maintenance.

The Electronic Milko Testers have well served the dairy industry in India by speeding up the testing process at the village milk collection centres on a very large scale, in an efficient, cost effective and simple manner. The entire system of milk collection, testing and on the spot payment is seamless.

Great Challenge

Preparing perspective plans for dairy development in the participating states was a great challenge in the absence of reliable data. We were able to achieve this task with the cooperation of the state agencies. We were also able to set up a comprehensive Management Information System (MIS) that helped us monitor the implementation of these plans and operate the National Milk Grid. It was very satisfying to see the emergence of the milk grid right before our eyes. This would not have been possible without the hard work put in by Shailendra Kumar and R K Nagar.

The setting up of the Sugam Dairy at Baroda and the many processes developed for the industrial manufacture of shrikhand, gulabjamun, khoa, paneer etc reinforced the place of our indigenous dairy products in the dairy sector. We also helped develop mini milk testers that are a great success. All this was possible because of the support received from professionals like M N Vyas, P V Mathew, Dr S V Pilkhane and T N Murti.

Dr Kurien was honest to the core and ran a squeaky clean organisation. There was a driver who was asked to speed up as there was some emergency. The driver got fined Rs 50 by the police for speeding. He went to the Chief Executive of NDDB and explained as to how he was asked to speed. The Chief Executive asked the driver to get a bill from a garage for the amount of the fine and submit it to the administration. The Administrator passed the bill but reported the matter to the Chairman, Dr Kurien. Next day there was a public notice on the official Notice Board informing that the driver was fined one rupee, the Administrator another rupee and the Chief Executive was fined Rs 48 to raise the money that could not be charged to NDDB. A clear message to all concerned.

Once there was a case of a senior officer having made some money. Dr Kurien called him and told him to leave immediately or he would pull him apart limb by limb. That reminds me of an incident where T N Seshan told an officer that Dr Kurien was not a doctor but a surgeon because he only chops.

Dr Kurien had a great sense of humour. When the Queen of Netherlands visited Anand, pointing to the stylised Mohenjo-daro bull that is the logo of the NDDB, she jokingly called him an MCP. Dr Kurien quipped: “Madam, no bull no milk”.

For those who worked for Dr Kurien, it was a blessing to have worked for a mission that sought to alleviate rural poverty and enable our poor to manage their own affairs. Dr Kurien was truly a Bharat Ratna. This needs to be celebrated every day with a glass of wholesome milk. He worked hard with a missionary zeal and made India proud. May his spirit live in us all and motivate us to rededicate ourselves to the service of the nation and derive the satisfaction that Dr Kurien derived in working for both milk producers and consumers.

Persuasive Powers

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 mobilise 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 it over 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 organise 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 organise dairy farmers into a viable cooperative.

The Amul Trinity—Dr Kurien and HM Dalaya with their mentor Tribhuvandas Patel, founder Chairman of Kaira Milk Union (Amul Dairy) (centre)


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 by Tribhuvandas 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 realised 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 was impinging 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 onvinced 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. He asked 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. Dr. Kurien also told the Board that I need not sign any bond to return as he trusted my word. That made me come back.

Great Blessing

Working with Dr Kurien for over 24 years has been a great blessing. He led from the front and was totally committed to the dairy farmers of India and showed the thoroughness that was needed to handle the tremendous challenges that we faced. He was able to muster support from the highest levels in the country and that helped in the successful implementation of OF. His real strength came from the farmers supported by professionals working for them. This is an unbeatable combination.

I was lucky to have a ring side seat and watched events unfold as they did to make the country a leader in milk and milk products.

When I went to Karachi to prepare a dairy development plan on behalf of SAARC in 1996, our nodal point was the Industrial Development Bank of Pakistan. The General Manager of the Bank was not very enthusiastic about an Indian team coming for this purpose. He narrated to us as to how “Indian spies were following him when he went to Delhi for a regional conference”. He said that he was, however impressed by the milk booth outside his hotel in Delhi. When he went to see it he became keen to see the Mother Dairy that ran the booth. The Booth Manager then put him in touch with the General Manager of Mother Dairy in Delhi. The General Manager arranged for a car to pick him up and show him the Mother Dairy and he was most impressed with it. He then mentioned to us that he could not believe the name of the General Manager as it turned out to be a Muslim gentleman by the name of N A Shaikh.

I then mentioned to him that Shaikh was an engineer who started his career as an apprentice engineer at the NDDB and that we had a Chairman, Dr V Kurien, who was a Christian. When he learnt that I used to be the Managing Director of the same NDDB, he warmed up and did everything that he could, to help with the SAARC study which recommended the setting up of a Mother Dairy for Karachi.

I hope the new generation, with all the technology that they now have at their disposal, will further our age-old values of honesty, sense of purpose, hard work and compassion. The guiding principle has to be “Love All, Serve All”.

Poverty in India is going to harm the rich almost as much as the misery it causes the poor. The rich are refusing to see the reality and are living in virtual bubbles. When the bubbles burst, the reality will dawn on them in the most horrific manner.


The Trailblazers

 The Original OF Team: Dr Kurien, Michael Halse et all


The Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad (IIMA) pioneered management training for the dairy sector. Dr Michael Halse, who was seconded to the IIMA by the Ford Foundation and who was helping in the formation of Agriculture and Cooperation group at IIMA, wrote two classical cases on Indian agriculture (AGCO 1 & AGCO2). These cases looked at the aggregate inputs and outputs of the Indian agriculture sector. He then did a couple of case studies on Amul Dairy and its approach to profitability of manufacturing various products. These studies more or less turned upside down the then approach of looking at profitability, based on conversion of milk to various products, taking into account the costs involved at various stages of conversion.

Mike proved the methodology to be erroneous by taking the financial analysis approach of looking at the annual cash flows based on the product mix. This was amply demonstrated in the Multilevel Management Development (MDMP) course conducted by IIMA in 1966 which also provided me with much needed exposure to management studies. Mike came in contact with Dr Kurien, who was the Manager of Amul Dairy, during the preparation of these case studies relating to Amul Cooperative.

During this phase, Dr Kurien was asked by the then Minister of Agriculture (MOA), C Subramaniam, to look at the affairs of the Delhi Milk Scheme (DMS) which was in dire straits. Dr Kurien led a team set up by the Government of India to look at the working of the DMS. Other members of the team comprised H M Dalaya, second in command at the Amul Dairy; V H Shah, the engineer in charge of Amul Dairy; Dr P Bhattacharya the then Animal Husbandry Commissioner, Government of India (GOI); and, amongst others, Dr Michael Halse.

DMS at that time represented the general state of decay in the Indian dairy industry. The dairy was run as bureaucratically as possible. It procured milk of dubious quality from the milk suppliers who were merely thekedars (contractors). The price paid to them was not very attractive as the Government would not raise the procurement price since the consumer prices were kept at low levels for political reasons. It was already dependent on cheap imported milk powder to keep its books balanced. The standard for quality was usually the clot on boiling test. If it did not curdle on boiling it was good enough even if it had millions of all kind of bugs in it. Corruption was rampant and I had first-hand knowledge of it, having worked as an apprentice at one of the milk collection and chilling centres at Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh.

Dr Kurien’s report led to the restructuring of the DMS management. The long-term impact of it was to set up the NDDB at the instance of the then Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri asking the Ministry of Agriculture to set up NDDB which C Subramanian did in consultation with Dr Kurien. The first Board of NDDB included most of the members of the DMS enquiry committee led by Dr Kurien including H M Dalaya, V H Shah, Dr P Bhattacharya and Dr Michael Halse from IIMA. That brought Mike even closer to Dr Kurien.

Dr Kurien had a running battle with the Government of India on import of cheap milk powder that was supplied to private dairies for manufacture of infant milk foods. The cheap milk powder was destroying the urban milk market and preventing cooperatives like Amul to expand. There was a serious oversupply of milk powder in the EEC countries who were considering dumping it to reduce supplies and restore healthy market balance. This is where Mike came in. He helped Dr Kurien work out a strategy to get hold of these surplus supplies. I had by then joined NDDB at the instance of Mike and we worked on the initial OF proposal which was drafted by Mike under the instructions of Dr Kurien.

Meanwhile, to get the NDDB going, Dr Kurien was able to persuade Heradia, the then Agriculture Secretary, Government of Gujarat, to pay for the building of three cattle feed plants (CFP) at Mehsana, Surat and Rajkot. The dairies at Mehsana and Surat were successful cooperatives set up on the Anand Pattern and were keen to have a CFP on the lines of Amul to lower the cost of milk production. Rajkot had a Government Dairy which was run reasonably well at that point of time. The Government of Gujarat also asked NDDB to build these plants on turnkey basis.

NDDB recruited three young engineers (V S Behla, P G Gore & Bhatt) who were mentored by V H Shah to build these plants in a record time. The Government of Gujarat also agreed that NDDB recruit four professionals in the area of purchase, marketing, animal nutrition and production for each of these with the understanding that these professionals would be employed by the organisation that would ultimately own these three cattle feed plants.

My first assignment at NDDB was to help in training these 12 managers. While Shailendra Kumar and P V Mathew helped with the surveys and studies, these management trainees looked at their potential markets, while my role was to develop the MIS for the CFPs. All the paper work that would be needed by these managers was developed during this training. While these plants were still under construction, Mike designed a seeding programme for the CFPs so that they could test their marketing plans by actually marketing cattle feed under their brand names from the Amul Cattle Feed Plant and with promotional material designed by a professional marketing agency under Mike’s guidance. Two out of the three CFPs (at Surat and Mehsana) reached their break-even points even before the plants were commissioned. The cooperative unions at Mehsana and Surat lapped up these plants as soon as these were ready. Meanwhile, Mike asked Mathew and Shailendra to update the Orange Book that had been produced by him while at IIMA. This was a study of the Baroda Milk Market. The study, the fi rst of its kind in India, showed that 30 per cent of the milk in Baroda was consumed by the upper income group that consisted only 10 per cent of the city’s population and the bottom 30 per cent of the low end consumers consumed 10 per cent of the milk, 90 per cent of which was consumed in whitening their daily chai. This led to the Chai Sathi (Tea Mate) Project.

Mike had his earlier boss Nella Bowen from one of the top marketing fi rms in UK, Bensons, come to Baroda and assist us (mainly Mathew), in designing the project that provided a groundnut protein isolate based tea whitener at half the cost of milk. This needed to be subsidised and the concept of marketing a high end product (Shrikhand) to subsidise the low end Chai Sathi gave birth to Sugam Dairy, the product and processing arm of NDDB.

Meanwhile of was approved by the Government of India and I was involved in the setting up of standards and testing procedures and labs for testing the quality of imported butter oil and skim milk powder. When the fi rst review committee from the FAO/WFP came to review the progress of Operation Flood (OF), very little had been achieved in terms of assets on the ground as the infrastructure for increased procurement, processing of milk takes time to build. These delays led to the NDDB not having much to show the WFP/FAO review committee that came to follow up on the progress of OF.

Thanks to Mike, we were able to convince the Review Mission that a lot of preliminary work had already been done and presented to the Mission some 20 odd papers. These consisted of market reports on Baroda, Delhi, Bombay and Calcutta, Rural Milkshed studies in 18 milksheds, feasibility studies on putting up feeder/balancing dairies, cattle feed plants, preparatory work on organising dairy cooperatives and training key staff for these cooperatives. These studies were done by Shailendra Kumar, R K Nagar, P V Mathew, Dr M P G Kurup and many others.

Mike’s paper on conversion efficiency in the Indian dairy sector was a labour of love for quite a few of us including, Prof Tushaar Shah, Dr M P G Kurup, Dr K R Trivedi, R K Nagar. The study was conducted in our spare time over a couple of years and it seemed to expand its scope as we progressed. The study looked at India’s feed resources including natural herbage, crop residues, oil meals, and whatever little fodder that was cultivated. It proposed means of improving the conversion efficiencies of the calories that go into our milch animals and the calories that pop out as milk. It took into account the contribution of farm cattle to the fertiliser that goes into our soil and the farm power provided by the males to broaden the scope of inputs and output measured in energy terms.

When the study was more or less ready to go for publication, Mike prepared a draft of the paper that was to go to Nature, the publication best suited for such seminal works. The draft had me as the senior author because my name had an A in it and Mike had thought of putting the names of the authors in alphabetical order and not by the size of contribution made by them. I protested since Mike was the lead author. During our arguments on the authorship of the study, I suggested that instead of publishing the article in Nature, Mike could write it as his PhD thesis and send it to the Harvard Business School (HBS) where he had registered as a PhD candidate before he came to IIM Ahmedabad. Mike accepted the proposal and sent the thesis to Dr Ray Goldberg at HBS.

For a few months Mike did not hear from HBS and regretted not sending the paper to Nature. Then he heard from Ray asking him to come to Harvard to lead a discussion at a workshop that was organised for policy makers from several countries on the Conversion Effi ciency paper. Mike later on told me that after the workshop, Ray took him to the Dean of Graduate Studies at HBS about Mike getting his PhD. The Dean said that Mike had registered a long time ago and that there was no precedent for a Doctorate being awarded in this manner. Ray clinched the Doctorate issue by questioning if HBS was built on precedents. Dr Kurien had name plate made for Dr Michael Halse when he returned from HBS.

The work on conversion efficiency came in very handy when a student of Dr Yogendra Alagh, published a paper in the Economic & Political Weekly questioning the validity of OF when India did not have enough feed resources to produce any more milk. This paper was based on a doctoral thesis that took into account the limitations of feed resources to increase milk production. Fortunately for us the model in the thesis did not take into account as to how India was producing 20 million tonnes of milk. If the paper was to take into account the production and maintenance requirements of all the cattle (as per the paper) then India’s milk production would have been negative. Also, it did not take into account the fact that old and unproductive cattle are not given much maintenance rations.

Unfortunately this work was never carried forward to take into account the monetary values of inputs and outputs. Also the models built needed to be revised in light of the new data on the current situation of the farm sector. But the fact is that India produced all the milk that was postulated in the model. The best tribute to Mike would be the continuation of this work under present conditions to fulfi l the goal of meeting India’s growing demand for milk without sparing large amounts of land for fodder cultivation which could strain our food security.