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There was flood of milk. Reason: no milk commissioner!

The Father of the Milk Revolution Verghese Kurien demonstrated the effectiveness of organising milk production and marketing through milk producers’ cooperatives.

The Amul brand became a great symbol of success. But his efforts to replicate the Anand pattern in other states did not meet with success comparable to that of Gujarat. In tune with the diversity of India, the country opted different models. Tamil Nadu, with its intense political activity, opted to continue with organising milk production under the direction and control of the government. The Tamil Nadu Dairy Development Corporation continues to manage and administer milk production and marketing under the brand name Aavin.

Unfortunately, the slow grind of the bureaucratic machinery and frequent transfer of the chief executive dilute the needed thrust and aggression for maximising the corporation’s efficacy. I cite two instances:

•    In 2012, prior to Deepavali festival, Aavin introduced several sweet packs and offered these at attractive prices. The quality was quite good and prices more favourable than comparable products from private concerns like Grand Sweets or Sri Krishna Sweets. Demand was so high that the stocks were sold out in most outlets within a couple of hours of arrival. If one expected the corporation to build on this success, one was sadly disappointed. For Deepavali 2013, stocks did not reach the outlets even a couple of days before Deepavali. The frequent change of bureaucrats at the top comes in the way of building on successful practices.

•    The second example is even more pathetic. A few years ago, TNDDC’s Salem unit introduced flavoured milk in tetra packs. The different flavours included strawberry, vanilla, banana, chocolate, pista… Priced at Rs 15 per pack, these became affordable and turned out to be among the popular products of Aavin. The machine imported from Sweden over a decade ago and installed at the Salem unit was in crying need of replacement. But TNDDC did not bother to monitor the deteriorating condition. The machine crashed in 2013 totally stopping production of this popular product. It seems it may take more than a year from now to get a new machine imported from Europe.

Such established corporations should naturally have a think tank to plan ahead. How sad such a system is not in place at TNDDC!

I remember Kurien’s address at a dairy conference organised by the then Milk Commissioner L M Menezes at Chennai in the early 1980s. I recall his address in the presence of the then Minister of Dairy Development K A Krishnaswamy. See how Kurien twitted Menezes, one of the brilliant administrators who worked so hard to replicate the Anand pattern in Tamil Nadu : “I visited New Zealand. The bloody place was flooded with milk. I investigated the reason,” Kurien paused, turned towards Menezes, and remarked: “I found there was no Milk Commissioner in New Zealand! I was in the Netherlands. There again the milk was flowing like river. I found the answer. There was no milk commissioner…’

 The refrain that Brutus was an honourable man was repeated by Kurien. Sadly, Kurien’s prescription of milk production and marketing managed by cooperatives did not fit into the party politics-dominated Tamil society.


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