Skip to main content

Government of India interference in dairy cooperatives, begun when Modi was Gujarat CM, now turns blatant

India's milk man, Kurien
By RK Misra*
To err is human but to really mess up you require a design committee of bureaucrats headed by a politician. How else would you account for the government’s approval to cheap import of butter oil that puts Indian dairy majors – largely it’s milk cooperatives – in an avoidable stranglehold at a time of glut conditions?
Indian dairy cooperatives have been shouting hoarse at the doorsteps of a government headed by a Prime Minister from Gujarat – the milk cradle of India – pointing out the hazards, but so far to no avail. According to a report, 1300 metric tons (MT) of butter oil (ghee) from New Zealand has already landed and another 2500 MT is on the way. And of course, there is more in queue. The glaring price difference tells it’s own story: Imported at Rs 170 per kg, it is ranged against a domestic product going at Rs 325 per kg in bulk packing.
The global milk market is ‘fermenting’ and the international dairy product prices are in free fall. There is a drop in currency rates against the dollar, quota removal by European Union is a desperate measure after being rendered red nosed by a Russian embargo. Indian exports of dairy products have also suffered alongside.
India’s milk production has been growing at over 4 per cent annually compared to a 2.75 per cent growth in world milk production. Per capita availability of milk has also increased to 290 grams per day as against world per capita availability of 289 grams per day. The demand for milk is also growing much faster and is projected to reach 200-210 million tonnes by 2021-22.
In India, there have been representations galore against allowing imports in a bid to protect domestic interests. Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), Asia’s largest milk cooperative and apex marketing body of 17 dairy unions made famous by the brand name Amul with an annual turnover of Rs 21,000 crore has done so too. It’s Managing Director RS Sodhi is on record urging the Union agriculture ministry against imports. Sodhi has cause to be concerned for his organization represents the milk marketing interests of 36 lakh dairy farmers.
Interestingly, the milk turf astutely, insulated and protected for decades by the father of the milk revolution in India, Dr V Kurien, had become the most targeted ‘acquisition’ for Gujarat’s longest serving chief minister, Narendra Modi, who is now the Prime Minister.
Thirty six lakh dairy farmers with their families, accounting for a geometric progression in numbers, makes for a salivating captive vote bank and the Gujarat chief minister was no exception. Kurien, who was the head of the GCMMF, chairman of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and also the head honcho of the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA), was the sole rock-like obstacle standing between Modi and the ‘milk masses’.
All manner of stratagems including the full force of covert state power was brought into play to remove him unceremoniously from all three positions. Kurien could take on God almighty for his dairy farmers, for Modi it was personal pique. So personally did he take it that, though just about 25 km from Anand when Kurien died, he did not show the basic courtesy of a personal visit to a man who ensured that India ranks as the largest milk producer in the world, even to this day. Much lesser mortals continue to be accorded this privilege, even in mirthful moments, still.
PA Joseph, who spent 22 years of his life as executive assistant to Kurien, laments the dilution of his vision. Government interference in the affairs of the dairy cooperatives, which are supposed to be farmer owned and controlled organizations, is now blatant.
Joseph remembers, "Kurien would call the Registrar of Cooperatives as ‘God of Cooperatives’ and the state minister to whom he reports as the ’boss of god’. And if the God is pleased with elected representatives of a cooperative then it is fine ,otherwise all hell breaks loose”.
It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong. With Kurien out of the way, there was no stopping chief minister Modi. And Anandiben Patel who succeeded him has also inherited the same BJP lineage and streak.Today,16 of the 17 dairy unions that constitute the GCMMF are BJP controlled and it is a direct mandate from the Gujarat chief minister which decides the chairmanship of this Rs 21,000 crore annual turnover organization aiming for a Rs 50,000 crore turnover by 2020.
Things have come to such a pass that internecine warfare within the BJP is finding reflection in dairy cooperatives. BJP leader Vipul Chaudhary was forced out of the chairmanship of the GCMMF by Modi for the sin of attending a meeting in Ahmedabad where Rahul Gandhi was present.
Even after that he has been incessantly hounded and stripped off the chairmanship of the over 5-lakh-member Dudhsagar district cooperative dairy at the behest of his own government. This has been done through the appointment of a custodian. He was also sought to be debarred by the registrar from contesting the elections to the cooperative but the High Court rejected the government decision.
The BJP had also moved heaven and earth to wrest control of the lone Congress-controlled Anand district cooperative milk producers union, but it lost in the elections. Even thereafter the government sought indirect methods to takeover by inducting government members on the board but judicial intervention put paid to their efforts.
Not content, the BJP government has got an amendment in the Gujarat Cooperative Societies Act passed in the state Assembly giving it the right to appoint custodians to cooperatives where elections are pending after the terms of the respective boards had concluded. In fact, the process had been initiated to name custodians in 125 cooperatives but legal wrangles have come in the way and the matter rests with the apex court.
This entire spectre of centralized control of all manner of institutions while publicly professing decentralization is the legacy of the then chief minister Modi. “Less government, more governance” he would say with aplomb even as he went about centralizing things in his own hands in Gujarat.
It is the replication of this very same ‘Gujarat model’ that is on view in Delhi where the PMO is all powerful and Home Minister Rajnath Singh has to deflect questions pertaining to the transfer of the union home secretary to the Prime Minister. The media manufactured transparency is in reality a bureaucratically engineered opacity!
---
*Senior journalist, based in Gandhinagar. RK Misra’s blogs can be accessed at http://wordsmithsandnewsplumbers.blogspot.in/

Comments

TRENDING

Billion vaccine doses? Devil is in details: 70% haven't got 2nd jab; numbers jacked up

By Prof Ujjwal K Chowdhury*  India has reached the one billion Covid-19 vaccinations milestone. It is indeed a great news and a big salute to the less paid ordinary health-workers in interiors of India for this feat. The government wants all of India's 944 million adults to get vaccinated this year. Around three-quarters of adults in the country of 1.3 billion people have had one shot and around 30 percent are fully vaccinated, the government says.

Savarkar 'criminally betrayed' Netaji and his INA by siding with the British rulers

By Shamsul Islam* RSS-BJP rulers of India have been trying to show off as great fans of Netaji. But Indians must know what role ideological parents of today's RSS/BJP played against Netaji and Indian National Army (INA). The Hindu Mahasabha and RSS which always had prominent lawyers on their rolls made no attempt to defend the INA accused at Red Fort trials.

Top upper caste judges 'biased' towards Dalit colleagues: US Bar Association report

By Rajiv Shah  A high profile report prepared by the influential  American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights , taking note of the fact that “in the 70-year history of the Indian Republic, only six Dalit judges have been appointed to the Supreme Court”, has taken strong exception to what it calls “lack of representation of Dalits” in the legal profession and the judiciary.

Political consensus? Celebrations, with over 5,000 plus post-vaccine deaths in India

By Rosamma Thomas*  As India fully vaccinated nearly 20% of its population and celebrated the “milestone” of administering one billion (100 crore) Covid-19 vaccine doses, it was time to remember those who died shortly after vaccination . By October 20, 2021 Twitter handle C400T, tracking deaths reported to have occurred after receiving the Covid-19 shot in India, updated the 5,134th death.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Failure of 'trickle down theory' behind India's poor Global Hunger Index rating

By Dr Gian Singh*  On October 14, 2021, two organisations, Concern Worldwide (An Irish aid agency) and WeltHungerHilfe (a German organization that researches the problem of global hunger), jointly published the Global Hunger Index (GHI) for 2021. These organizations have included 116 countries in the world hunger rankings.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Uttarakhand, Kerala disaster due to policies favouring India's developmental mafia

By Vidya Bhushan Rawat*  Two of India’s most beautiful regions where thousands of people go to watch and feel the wonders of nature are suffering because of the extremely disastrous rains and floods. The pain that the rains brought to Kerala and Uttarakhand is a warning to all of us. It's nature’s warning to us to mend our ways.

March opposes Sabarmati Ashram renovation: 'Mahatmaji had kept open for access to all'

Counterview Desk A Sevagram to Sabarmati march, which began on October 17 from Wardha (Maharashtra) and will end on October 24 in Ahmedabad (Gujarat), has demanded that the Sabarmati Ashram, the government should not impose "the fashion and glitz of a shallow modernity" at the cost of Rs 1,200 crore, in the name of renovating the Ashram founded by Gandhiji.

Religious mobs replicate blasphemy laws, 'threatening' liberty in a free country

Nihangs, Lakhbir Singh By Ajit Singh*   A Dalit man, Lakhbir Singh, was mercilessly beaten up and lynched to death near farmers’ protest site in the State of Haryana allegedly by Nihang Sikhs. It was alleged that he committed blasphemy by desecrating the Holy Book Guru Granth Sahib.