Must Read

NDDB: Will it return to Sardar and Shastri legacy?

By M K Shukla- 01 Dec 2020


New Delhi (01.12.2020): Even though IAS officer and joint secretary in the union fisheries, animal husbandry and dairying ministry, Varsha Joshi, is appointed with effect from December 01, 2020 as interim chairperson of the Anand-headquartered National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), rumors are rife that the government may prefer to appoint this time a person from the dairy sector as the full-time head of the Board.

However, the final outcome may depend on the interface and negotiations between different governments, professionals, and dairy leaders. And it's not going to be an easy thing as every party will be pulling their own strings. Because of the difficulties involved, the government may perhaps well decide to continue with its slightly tweaked status quoist approach.

For almost a decade since 2011, the NDDB, which was till then always headed by a dairy professional, saw the entry of an IAS officer, Dilip Rath, who took premature retirement to join the Board as MD. True, Amrita Patel continued to function as chairperson. But as soon as she stepped down in 2014, an IAS officer, T Nanda Kumar, was made the chairman of the Board by the then lame-duck UPA-2 government.

On December 01, 2016, Rath was made the chairman of the Board when Kumar, who was appointed for a five-year term in March 2014, stepped down citing personal reasons. On December 1, 2018, Rath was reappointed chairman on the expiry of his first two-year term.

While Ms. Joshi's appointment has put paid to rumors about Rath getting another extension, professionals wonder whether it is a good practice to put civil administrators in charge of a professional cooperative organization that has grown organically since its inception in 1965.

True, many IAS and allied services officers these days have technical degrees in engineering and business unlike the past, but they lack professional experience in running a rural, people-oriented business like NDDB or any other business for that matter. Because, soon after acquiring their technical degrees, they get into government which, of course, has its own ethos and work culture that does not equip them with the experience to run business administrations. 

It's not an easy thing to run a global institution of eminence like NDDB. For 55 years, despite a few deviations here and there particularly under Amrita Patel's stewardship (she introduced corporatism in marketing), the Board has remained focused on dairy farmers and their interests. And that's the reason why it has grown from strength to strength. And because the NDDB has become a beautiful tree, every bird wants to make its nest there.

As the new challenges arise in the beginning of the third decade of the 21st century, the Board must continue to pivot its operations around the visions of Sardar and Shastri - that the interests of farmers are always paramount. That's because the weaponization of food (generic expression) could only accelerate in view of climate challenges.

Sardar sowed the seed of agriculture cooperativism in cooperation with Tribhuvandas Patel in 1946 and Shastri took it to the next stage by creating the NDDB through an act of Parliament in July 1965. If the NDA government has any commitment to the visions of the two great sons of Bharatvarsha, it needs to show it by taking the whole of agriculture to its next stage of growth.

Like what the Amul and NDDB did for dairy producers and consumers, a visionary plan for agriculture would do the same for producers and consumers. And it has become all the more important in view of the ongoing farmers' agitation whose leaders have no clue about what could serve best the interests of farmers.

We are truly living in a great time: people who can't differentiate between turnip and beetroot become farm leaders, farm experts, and farm officials. And that underlines the urgency to keep NDDB and agriculture off-limit for civil servants and power brokers. The government will do itself a favor if, in this respect, it follows in the path of the Father of Operation Flood, Verghese Kurien, who called Krishi Bhavan as 'Kursi Bhavan' and kept the bureaucrats off from the precincts of GCMMF and NDDB, despite the best efforts of many social and political entrepreneurs.

free stat counter