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

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

Modi wants Pak govt be held responsible for JeM terror strike: World doesn't agree

By Sandeep Pandey*
I went to participate in a candle light homage paying event at Dr BR Ambedkar's statue organised by about 200 Dalit students on Hazratganj main crossing in Lucknow on February 16, 2019 evening, two days after the dastardly terrorist act in Pulwana, Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), in which 44 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel was killed.

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

Not just Indian women engineers, men too face sexual harassment at workplace: US study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent research, carried out jointly by two US-based non-profit organizations, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Center for WorkLife Law (WLL), based at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, has found that 45% of women engineers as against 28% of men engineers complained that it was perceived as “inappropriate when women argued at work, even when it was work-related.”

Anti-liquor march: Women padyatris "resolve" to occupy Karnataka state assembly

By Abhay, Swarna Bhat*
At a huge public convention held at Siddaganga Mutt on the Republic Day, January 26, 2019, in the presence of Sanehalli Sri Panditaradhya Swamiji, padyatris of the Madya Nishedha Andolana decided to intensify the ongoing liquor ban movement. A resolution passed at the convention, in which thousands of rural women joined in, the marching women declared that on reaching Bengaluru will “occupy Vidhan Soudha” on Mahatma Gandhi’s martyrdom day, January 30.