Dr. V. Kurien: Commemorative Issue			   FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION       December 2012Remembering the Legend                 ...
2         Network                                                 NOTIFICATION    I, Pratik Modi, Alumni Co-ordinator, hav...
3   Network                                           Remembering the Legend                                              ...
4      Network                                                                                          Editorial    Dear ...
5        Network                                                         Remembering the Legend                           ...
6          Network                         Dr. V. Kurien:                   Persona and Contributions                     ...
7        Network                                                        Remembering the Legend    food aid into a developm...
8          Network    aspects of its functioning”. He had           this. While ensuring autonomy from             he was ...
9        Network                                                          Remembering the Legend    IRMA: The House that K...
10            Network     would only have the best. Later,          students and society,” is what he          interests. ...
11         Network                                                         Remembering the Legend               Rememberin...
12            Network     that management was better taught          approval to the proposal. Very soon         and atten...
13          Network                                                             Remembering the Legend                    ...
14           Network                           Up Close and Personal            Being personal assistant to a legend is ne...
15         Network                                                               Remembering the Legend     on expectantly...
16            Network                        Amul Dairy Museum:                      The Milky Way to Success             ...
17         Network                                                          Remembering the Legend                        ...
18            Network                                   Decoding the King            A rather sassy observation of the Col...
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien
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IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien

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IRMA Network Magazine dedicated to Dr. V Kurien

  1. 1. Dr. V. Kurien: Commemorative Issue FOR PRIVATE CIRCULATION December 2012Remembering the Legend The Utterly Butterly Man Decoding the King Remembering Dr. V. Kurien – the Father of White Revolution Koffee with Kurien The Spirit of Cooperation Amul is a Woman Thing Undeniably Unforgettable Institute of Rural Management Anand
  2. 2. 2 Network NOTIFICATION I, Pratik Modi, Alumni Co-ordinator, have been appointed vide letter No D.O.(O.ORD)42/12 dated 28 December 2012 by the Director IRMA, as the Returning Officer for conduct of elections to the 11th Executive Committee of the IRMA Alumni Association (IAA hereafter) in accordance with the provisions of its constitution: And whereas under clause 9.0 read with clause 12.1 of the constitution, all ordinary members of the Association (as defined in clause 4.1 of the constitution) are required to elect the following Executive Committee members. 1. One post of President 2. One post of Vice-President 3. One post of Secretary 4. One representative of each zone (as defined under clause 15.0 of the constitution which includes North, South, East, West, and International Zones) And now, therefore, in exercise of my powers as the Returning Officer, call upon all ordinary members of the Association to elect the Executive Committee members as aforesaid as per the procedures laid down in Schedules 1&2 appended to this notification. December 31, 2012 Sd/- Anand Returning Officer (Pratik Modi) SCHEDULE 1 IRMA ALUMNI ASSOCIATION, ANAND SCHEDULE OF ELECTION, 2013 1. Date of issue of Election notification by the returning officer 31 December 2012 2. Last date and time for the receipt of nomination papers by the returning officer 4 February 2013 3. Scrutiny of nomination papers by the returning officer 6 February 2013 4 Last date and time of withdrawal of nominations to reach the returning officer 10 February 2013 5. Publication of voters’ list 15 February 2013 6. Post of ballot papers/voting guidelines to the electorate by the returning officer 20 February 2013 7. Last date and time for receipt of postal ballots/votes by returning officer 25 March 2013 8. Counting of votes and declaration of result by returning officer 29 March 2013 Members may send their ballot papers by ordinary post to save time. However, registered/couriered post will also be accepted. Hand delivery can also be made at the Alumni Office and acknowledgement obtained. Withdrawal of nominations can also be made by fax, email, or by telegram followed by a confirmation by post. The voters’ list would be published and exhibited prominently on a notice board at IRMA. December 31, 2012 Sd/- Anand Returning Officer (Pratik Modi) Contd. on page 47
  3. 3. 3 Network Remembering the Legend CONTENTS 1. End of an Iconic Era........................................................................................... 5 – Yoginder K Alagh 2. Dr. V. Kurien: Persona and Contributions........................................................... 6 – HS Shylendra 3. IRMA: The House that Kurien Built..................................................................... 9 – Tushaar Shah 4. Remembering Dr. V. Kurien - the Father of White Revolution...........................11 – Katar Singh 5. Dr. Kurien’s Better Half..................................................................................... 13 – Indrani Talukdar 6. Up Close and Personal..................................................................................... 14 – PS Mohan 7. Amul Dairy Museum: The Milky Way to Success............................................. 16 – Anand Venkatesh 8. Down Memory Lane......................................................................................... 17 – V Mukunda Das 9. Decoding the King............................................................................................ 18 – MS Sriram 10. The Spirit of Cooperation.................................................................................. 20 – Haribandhu Panda 11. Carillon Chimes: A looming presence............................................................... 23 – Indrani Talukdar 12. The Inimitable Dr. K......................................................................................... .24 – CP Mohan 13. Koffee with Kurien............................................................................................ 27 . – Meher Gadekar 14. A Magnetic Personality..................................................................................... 30 – Anand Venkatesh 15. Itna Vaada Kar de............................................................................................. 31 – Paresh Bhatt 16. Undeniably Unforgettable................................................................................. 32 – Anshul Malik 17. The Utterly Butterly Man................................................................................... 34 – Priyam Mukherji 18. Amul is a Woman Thing................................................................................... 36 . – Devaki Jain 19. I Too Had A Dream’: Book Review.................................................................... 38 – Rishi Kesavaram Editorial Committee Editor: Anand Venkatesh Editorial Associate: Indrani Talukdar Network Secretariat: Susamma T Network is a quarterly publication of IRMA aiming to generate communication among alumni, well-wishers and present participants of IRMA. Send the materials for consideration of publicaion in Network to : network@irma.ac.in Disclamer: The views and opinions expressed in articles are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of NETWORK, IRMA.
  4. 4. 4 Network Editorial Dear Esteemed Reader, It is seldom that one has a sense of disbelief and doubt while reporting a factual event. But that is precisely the feeling one gets while writing that Dr Kurien is no longer with us, even after three months of his sad demise. It was universally felt at IRMA that the first and foremost thing IRMA can, and must do, to remember the legend is to bring out a special issue of Network dedicated to Dr Kurien. Indeed, this idea emanated from several quarters within IRMA at about the same time. The next question was, “what should this special issue contain?” Once again, the Network team felt that it should not just focus on the multitude of achievements by the great man, or for that matter, his yeoman service towards rural poverty alleviation. Rather, this issue should be about IRMA’s memories of Dr Kurien. This in turn leads to the question, who or what, is IRMA? To venture an answer: IRMA’s alumni and current participants, faculty past and present, staff members, and several well wishers of IRMA in the outside world. We felt that collating memories, views and anecdotes, from each of these would add another dimension to understanding Dr Kurien. In other words, ambitious though it may seem, one would get a chance to know Dr Kurien more as a human being transcending the vast sea of his legendary achievements. At the very outset, we realized that any effort in this direction would remain incomplete without hearing from Mrs Molly Kurien. The interview with Mrs Kurien was indeed an eye opener. It not only revealed fascinating insights about Dr Kurien the person but through Mrs Kurien’s humility and frankness we could fathom the crucial role she played in Dr Kurien’s feats which border on the unbelievable. Once again my hands tremble with disbelief when I recollect that within two months of the interview Mrs Kurien too left us to join her husband in his heavenly abode. While compiling this special issue we realized that it is limiting to think that Dr Kurien touched the lives of only those who interacted with him in some capacity or the other. Current IRMA participants who had never seen Dr Kurien in person were desirous of writing about him based on the tremendous influence he had in their decision to shape their careers and lives in a particular way. Also the history and significance of two monuments in the proximity of which the immortal presence of Dr Kurien can be strongly felt – the Carillon Chimes and the Amul Museum – are covered in this issue. As mentioned in the editorial of the previous issue of Network, we would be introducing changes which would make this lovely periodical even more reader friendly. For a start, we have brought out this special issue dedicated to Dr Kurien in colour. Also, articles are interspersed with photographs and blurbs. However, to know that we are in the right direction, your feedback is crucial for us. So please spare some time to email us your views, comments and suggestions to further improve Network. Last, but by no means the least, do not confine articles on Dr Kurien to just special issues. Rather, let us make every issue of Network special by having articles in memory of Dr Kurien. Yours Truly Anand Venkatesh (Editor)
  5. 5. 5 Network Remembering the Legend End of an Iconic Era With Dr. Kurien’s death an age has come to an end but his heritage lives on. T he passing away of Verghese Kurien marks the end of an epoch. He was not only a man had to be dispensed he would make the machine. as shining examples. This is the only management school that does not feel happy when you join an MNC. And of course, Amul became the with a vision but one who could symbol of all that was India. A What now, I am asked. Actually eras fashion it to create mighty edifices. cooperative must have regular like this never come to an end. The He changed the discourse. When I elections. Its accounts must be National Dairy Development Plan went to the FAO for building its first audited annually. Kurien hated talks about cooperatives, self help global model of world agriculture crooks and charlatans. When I was groups, and producer companies. an orthodoxy prevailed that dairying asked to succeed him at IRMA I said Many NGOs have been working could only be carried out on a large “No. He is my hero.” But I agreed on these models. NABARD has scale, in ranches and large industrial been building financial products for to talk to him. It was at peak of complexes. The unemployed farmer them. Today, even corporations like summer in the Kurien enclave, one was without resources and poor. Dr. Kurien said no: If the farmers can access technology and markets on their farms they would not be a problem but an asset. Having seen the dream he wouldn’t budge. He was right and he knew it in his heart. To him the critics were all wet and worse still, either “bureaucrats or charlatans”. First India and then the world recognised him with awards and glory. He would cover the last mile. And how! In his biography there is the Amul became the symbol of all that was India. story of a crane going haywire. He jumps on it and bleeds but brings of those deliciously languorous days DCMs Harayali and Rallis’s I Shakti it under control. When I was in the in Gujarat, when he told me, “If you Pulses follow the Producer Company Planning Commission in my early are doing it Yoginder, I am happy”. model. It is another matter that the days he had a project on shrikhand Corporate Affairs Ministry has been for the Sugam dairy. Of course the A third of rural income comes from giving a cold shoulder to the Second Project Division guys wouldn’t bite. dairying and he produced the only Amendment of The Company Act Halwais would become unemployed, model that is in existence. He 2002 that mandated the Producer they said. The technology of large created a phalanx that would follow Companies. When I asked the scale was unproven. He asked me through. He realised thirty years ago that it was not just machines author if the proposal for Producer to help and I arranged a meeting. Companies came from a group I and technology but managers who They went at him and he listened chaired, he said nonchalantly, “Those would make a difference. And of to them. Then looking them straight are not companies”. Of course they course, if they are needed they in the eye he said, “You fellows are not. That’s what Kurien’s legacy have to be the best. It is a pleasure can’t milk a cow and will give me is all about. Kurien’s heritage will to listen to the women and men he lectures”. If cheese had to be made not give up. It will give all of them inspired. IRMans like Sodhi, Shiv he would reverse engineer it. If milk a good fight. Kumar and many others stand out By: Prof. Yoginder K. Alagh, Ex-Chairman of IRMA, Email- yalagh@gmail.com
  6. 6. 6 Network Dr. V. Kurien: Persona and Contributions Operation Flood and the setting up of IRMA were just two of Dr. Kurien’s several contributions, outstanding for their merit and vision. W ith the passing away of Dr. V. Kurien a key phase in the country’s history of the Amul-inspired in Anand was the conviction he developed while working with farmers and helping them build their own Having been a manager himself while running a cooperative (Amul) effectively for nearly two decades, cooperative movement has come to institutions. This became the single Dr. Kurien knew the ingredients of an end. While it is not clear how most important mission of his life success needed for OF. Without far an individual can influence the and career, propelling him towards going into all the details, which history of any movement, the distinct his innumerable accomplishments. are widely known in any case, it role of Dr. Kurien in the propagation From such strong conviction was is worthwhile recalling a few major of the dairy cooperative movement born courage that, in turn, helped strategies bearing the hallmark of cannot be ignored. Before I go on him surmount the challenges and the ‘Kurien style of management and to highlight some of his specific adversaries he faced in life. No development’. First and foremost, contributions I would like to briefly one could trifle with him or the Dr. Kurien ensured that the National expound on certain personal institutions he created, and if he Dairy Development Board (NDDB) characteristics underpinning his had to ruffle a few feathers in the set up for the purpose remained achievements. pursuit of his goals he did so without autonomous – legally and financially turning a hair. The portrayal of Dr. – even during the heydays of state Diminutive in height Dr. Kurien had a Kurien would be incomplete without and bureaucratic control endemic to commanding presence, nonetheless. a mention of his commitment to all state-led bodies. Dr. Kurien was I realised this fact soon after simplicity, honesty and integrity, just not prepared for any kind of top- having joined IRMA in 1993. During values that he pursued in both his down bureaucratic system dictating various talks and lectures and in my personal and professional life. Dr. the implementation of a development subsequent interactions with him I Kurien ensured that the projects project. He not only succeeded in discovered in him a master orator and institutions he headed remained convincing the government that who was instantly able to recall above board when it came to issues NDDB had to be set up away from many historical facts and weave a like corruption and nepotism. Delhi, he also managed it highly wonderful story around them. His professionally. Whatever success OF speeches would leave one spell I would now like to expound on achieved was primarily attributable to bound. A colleague had remarked some of his specific contributions, this autonomy built very consciously. once that it was a blunder to make especially relating to Operation But Dr Kurien was also fully aware him read a written speech even Flood (OF) and Institute of Rural that the autonomy was to be used during a formal occasion. Oration Management Anand (IRMA), two of for the attainment of set goals and apart, he was a man of conviction his major accomplishments. not squandered for any narrow and courage. Admittedly, Dr Kurien Operation Flood (OF): OF was gains. He used the autonomy to the came to Anand as a reluctant aimed at replicating and scaling- hilt. He along with his team evolved professional. But once he decided up the Anand Pattern Co-operative many innovative strategies and to stay on there was no stopping model (or Amul model) all over India. practices while executing OF. Some him from his deep involvement with An exceptional project, it bore the cooperatives and achieving whatever distinguishing features of the OF stamp of Dr. Kurien’s acumen and he wanted. What kept him stay put include its financing by converting execution.
  7. 7. 7 Network Remembering the Legend food aid into a development fund, aware of the class/caste tensions conceptual abilities of potential professional management of but could not explicitly strategise rural managers. IRMA has carved a programme implementation and for such eventualities. He did unique niche for itself in the domain the cooperatives that were created believe, however, that economic of rural management education through multi-disciplinary teams, development could surmount such bearing a deep imprint of its creator. and the development of need- contradictions in the long run. To Having realised the acute need based technology. He insisted on him dairy development was, among for professionals to help manage making farmers’ cooperatives an other things, a strategy and means farmers’ organisations Dr. Kurien integral part of OF. As far as Dr. of attaining self-reliance for the was, in a way, compelled to establish Kurien was concerned, cooperatives developing countries. He strongly IRMA with mainstream management were not merely instruments of advocated protectionism against the institutions like the IIMs refusing project implementation but ways machinations of developed countries. to see his point of view. Having of unleashing the broader process worked with farmers he was very OF was thus a unique programme of participation, democracy, and clear on the type of education that that paved the way for combining development. He went on to become needed to be imparted to potential institutions with professional the champion of the cooperative rural managers. In one of his early management to uplift disadvantaged cause. speeches delivered before IRMA’s communities in developing countries. OF relied on small farmer based Board of Governors, Dr. Kurien Dr Kurien wanted this approach to dairy development as opposed to had argued that, “…the orientation pervade other sectors of the rural the large scale mechanised dairy of these new managers will have economy. Academically speaking, husbandry of western countries. to be substantially different. They somewhere along the way, this This was a major developmental must work under the compulsions approach assumed the form of a new strategy that he consciously adopted of the farmers’ interest and therefore discipline called ‘rural management’ given the conditions of rural India. Socially, it helped broad base the participation of a large number of small and marginal farmers in dairy development while economically it helped tap low cost resources of the farming community. But OF did face challenges and limitations that eluded solutions even for a master strategist like Dr. Kurien. The replication of the Anand Pattern Cooperatives encountered many difficulties at the state level. Non conducive conditions for the promotion and working of co- IRMA – Dr. Kurien’s brainchild operatives in an autonomous way constrained the uniform success of that, in turn, led to the formation of there must be a significant variation OF. Being aware of this Dr. Kurien the Institute of Rural Management in their attitudes and character.” strongly advocated the promotion Anand (IRMA). He had expressed the hope that of autonomous cooperatives by “the IRMA Board would address Institute of Rural Management reforming archaic cooperative itself to these questions right from Anand: IRMA is another major legislations. Dairy cooperatives at the inception stage and that these outcome of the visionary effort of Dr. the village level, like most other concerns would be reflected in the Kurien. While NDDB was the field sectors, also got trapped in the selection procedures and curricula for pushing practical boundaries, mire of elitism. Dr. Kurien was well for the institute as well as all other IRMA became the base for honing
  8. 8. 8 Network aspects of its functioning”. He had this. While ensuring autonomy from he was keen to replicate IRMA in been clear in his mind regarding the external forces he also advocated different regions of the country which expectations from rural managers the faculty’s need for internal somehow did not materialise during and the kind of institution that autonomy. A techno-manager to his tenure. needed to be created for them. His boot, Dr. Kurien sought the help of To conclude, while history may vision has helped IRMA evolve as a many renowned educationists and judge him more comprehensively, Dr unique rural management institution. other experts of the country and Kurien has left an indelible mark on As was the case with NDDB he abroad in shaping IRMA. He invited of the institutions he helped create. realised that IRMA should have an them to be on the Board of IRMA yet The challenge before some of these autonomous governance structure. never allowed anyone to divert or institutions- NDDB or GCMMF or for Autonomy was to be ensured in hijack IRMA from its original mission. that matter IRMA, is how to retain terms of governance and finances He was proud of the fact that while and sustain the basic purpose, and in terms of intellectual reflection. there were hundreds of management excellence and integrity which Dr. During his tenure as Chairman he schools there was only one IRMA. Kurien tried infusing in them as a tried every possible way of ensuring Given the vast needs of the country committed manager and visionary. By: Prof. H.S. Shylendra, Professor, Institute of Rural Management, Anand, Email- hss@irma.ac.in Chairman’s Welcome Address to the 26th batch of PRM & the 4th batch of FPRM Students June 17, 2005 Dear PRM and FPRM students, You all have joined IRMA this summer. I welcome you all to the Institute. You all will agree, I am sure, that you are very much privileged to get selected for admission here from amongst thousands who applied from all over the country. You will now have a golden opportunity to prepare yourself to work for a worthy cause i.e. for the betterment of rural India where the large mass of the deprived people live and who have been neglected for decades after Independence. IRMA has state-of-the-art facilities to facilitate your studies. It has good faculty, excellent library, comfortable hostels with internet connection, and spacious sports amenities. The whole campus is maintained as an oasis of well manicured beautiful green lawns to keep you ever fresh and revitalised for conducting your studies sincerely in a serene environment. All this is done with a purpose. IRMA is a unique institution. It is not similar to the mainstream common institutes of management education which are there in hundreds in the country – several of them running as teaching shops and some others mainly geared to meet the needs of the private corporates whose main objective is profit maximisation to further fatten the affluent classes, and the employees in such organisations commanding huge resources, may get fat salary and perks but essentially work as a cog in the gigantic corporate machine. IRMA is not meant to follow the mainstream. It has a unique and noble mission, namely, to promote equitable and sustainable development, especially rural development with a view to benefit the large rural populace. How does IRMA endeavour to fulfil this mission and vision? It is through contributing to professionalise the management of the undermanaged rural organisations, especially people’s institutions like cooperatives and also, NGOs which honestly work in line with IRMA’s mission. IRMA conducts a set of programmes and activities for the purpose of professonalisation. PRM has been the main teaching programme here since the institute was set up 25 years ago. It has emerged as pioneering programme establishing the discipline of rural management which is being replicated elsewhere in the country. Launching of the FPRM has taken the discipline of rural management to a greater height. We all have expectations in life. This is justified. But these days most people are largely after mammon worship. We need money which makes our life comfortable. Yes, money can buy you material comforts. But it cannot buy everything. One-sided pursuit of material comforts generally make us one-dimensional. Humans are not mere homo economicus (economic being). They are creative in nature and, hence, require space to innovate and create, which involves not only imagination but also confronting the existing challenges. Humans need respect and love in society. Contd... p. 15
  9. 9. 9 Network Remembering the Legend IRMA: The House that Kurien Built Of all the magnificent institutions built by Dr. Kurien IRMA was, perhaps, closest to his heart. D uring his long stint as a serial institution builder Dr. Kurien emerged as a champion of farmer who referred to it as EERMA, but gave up after sometime. bovine diseases—was converted into a makeshift office and class room complex for a young IRMA. While returning from a trip to cooperatives. The National Dairy Kanvinde and Rai, who happened to Europe Dr Kurien stopped by for Development Board (NDDB) was be among the best known architects a few hours to talk to the Swiss a charitable trust and companies of the country, were asked to design Development Cooperation (SDC) like HPCL, IDMC and Mother Dairy the IRMA campus on a 65 acre plot about IRMA and returned to Anand were owned by it. At one time the adjacent to the NDDB campus. There with a commitment from the Swiss Tribhuvandas Foundation was a were opinions galore expressed to fund the construction of the leading NGO of Gujarat, which Dr. on what the campus should look entire campus, including the class Kurien helped set up along with like. Someone suggested a rustic, room complex, auditorium hostels, several other institutions. There were austere place mimicking a village. Dr faculty housing and everything else few institutions, however, on which Kurien brushed it aside saying, “You required to create an institution of he showered as much care and cannot produce kings in a pigsty.” character. The Swiss along with attention as he did on IRMA. Building an educational institution the Ford Foundation also offered to The idea of IRMA was not on fund a faculty development program. was a wholly new experience for anybody’s mental map until 1978. Everything fell into place surprisingly him. But he was soon forming his Much before that, however, a quickly. IRMA looked like the right own vision of what was required. His realisation had dawned that idea at the right time coming from the vision of IRMA was of an institution Operation Flood II would not be right man. The decision was taken that would produce young men and able to take off without a cadre of to start a one-year program in rural women who would think big, dream trained managers. Dr Kurien offered to fund a separate course at IIMA to train cooperative managers but Ravi Mathai persuaded him against the idea. This led to the setting up of a large HR division within NDDB entrusted with the responsibility of producing cooperative managers. Ravi Mathai had, by then, introduced Dr Kurien to Kamla Chowdhury, and both he and the latter convinced Dr Kurien about building an autonomous institute with a distinct culture and values of its own. Sreekant Sambrani, who had done a stint at IIMA’s Center for Management in Agriculture, was hired to head the cell. While several names for the new institution were doing the rounds Dr Kurien seldom aired his views about what rural management meant to him Sambrani helped freeze ‘Institute of management in 1980 using NDDB’s big and, in time, act big and make Rural Management, Anand’ (IRMA). hostels meant for farmers to house their alma mater proud. He wanted To dissociate it from the 1963 students. The newly constructed IRMA to reflect the significance of comedy Irma la Douce Sambrani diagnostic laboratory—which later India’s agricultural and rural economy wanted IRMA to be pronounced as did some path-breaking work on to the country’s development. He ARMA and kept correcting anyone
  10. 10. 10 Network would only have the best. Later, students and society,” is what he interests. While making a difference after IRMA’s beautiful new campus would say. He was also suspicious between rural management and was ready, he would proudly say: “I of faculty members travelling abroad, public administration he was clear have built an invisible wall around especially to the West: “Why don’t that IRMA was not best suited to train IRMA. While they are here, I want we go to Bangladesh or Africa or administrators in the conventional IRMA students to be protected from China to learn and do research? Are sense of the term. Organising rural the filth and the pettiness all around the US and Europe sole repositories producers in viable organisations for and dream big for the country and of knowledge about development?” dairy, oilseeds, fruit and vegetables, themselves.” It was not easy to answer these salt, fishing, canal irrigation, health questions. He was also wary of and a range of other economic Dr. Kurien brought together a battery IRMA being overwhelmed by IIMA’s activities was, in his view, a large of some of the most experienced influence and wanted IRMA to chart and important playing field for IRMA. management thinkers and its own course. He would often He also saw the rural manager as a practitioners in the country to guide say, “Your best rural managers will man of action more than of analysis. the institute through its formative be odd-balls but your selection of Honing decision-making skills was years. These included Ravi Mathai, students based on the objective at the heart of rural management in Kamla Chowdhury, A M Khusro, written test will keep most such odd- his scheme of things. But he also Hanumantha Rao, GVK Rao and balls out of IRMA.” believed that in order to make sound several others who represented the best talent and wisdom available in It would be wrong to say that Dr decisions a rural manager must have different aspects of Indian economy. Kurien’s own management style was a good understanding of his milieu. He welcomed all of them to shape closer to Theory Y than to theory X. Dr Kurien’s ideas of management the philosophy of the new Institute. But he was an extraordinary example were based on a distinct model of But when it came to building the of an authoritarian manager who man. He abhorred treating farmers campus he appointed himself the seldom actually used authority. He and rural people as poor and helpless. Site Engineer-in-Chief. Once every inspired people like nobody else did. He never approved of treating them week he would drive around the During the 1950’s and 60’s in Amul with pity, even sympathy; instead, his campus and ask detailed questions he acquired and retained a world- constant refrain was that the farmer of the contractors and engineers. class management team that few should be respected for his innate Attention to detail was the hallmark multinational companies could boast wisdom. He believed in opening the of his management style. He never of. His managerial authority blended tired of telling us, “The Lord lies in with his personal power and charm door of opportunity for the farmer. the detail”. Few campuses in India potently to keep his colleagues and “The human machine is a wonderful remain as pretty and well-groomed co-workers in a permanently charged machine’, he used to say, ‘the more 30 years after construction as IRMA. state. The fact that he pursued a you load it, the harder it works.” This is undeniably one of Dr. Kurien’s larger-than-life goal over personal Dr Kurien always saw IRMA as lasting legacies. gain added to his magic. He took belonging to a class of its own, not pride in living in an air-conditioned to be compared with other business As IRMA came into its own and as house and moving around in an air- schools. And yet he expressed child- Dr. Kurien’s early advisors moved conditioned car paid by farmers. He like joy and pride when a survey on, there developed an interesting insisted that farmers were not bad of management institutes in India relationship between the latter and paymasters if their managers helped ranked IRMA amongst the top 10. IRMA’s faculty- which might be best them improve their lives. He thought it was a sign of IRMA described as one of creative tension, and managing this became a critical Dr Kurien seldom aired his views coming into its own. Had he been part of the Director’s responsibility. about what rural management alive today he would have been He abhorred the way he saw meant to him. The debate seemed overjoyed to see IRMA’s ranking ‘academic freedom’ being turned meaningless to him and he thought jump from 41 to 22 in a recent into licence in Indian academia and IRMA was wasting time splitting hair Business India survey. The real wanted IRMA to be spared that. on it. I strongly feel that IRMA’s aim tribute IRMA can pay to its founder “Academic freedom is the freedom should be understand the operating is to get counted amongst the top to think what you like and advance system of India’s rural economy; his five management institutes of the alternative theories, and not turn your own spin was that this understanding country, a feat that is wholly within back on your duty to your institution, should be used to further farmer’s the realm of possibility. By: Prof. Tushaar Shah, Former Director of IRMA, currently Senior Fellow: IWMI, E-mail- T.Shah@cgiar.org
  11. 11. 11 Network Remembering the Legend Remembering Dr. V. Kurien - the Father of White Revolution A nostalgia-filled Tribute by one of IRMA’s Former Directors T he late Dr. Verghese Kurien, popularly known as the Milk Man of India, was born on November 26, managed includes the names like AMUL, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), He dreamt of an All India Rural Management Service along the lines of the Indian Administrative Service. 1921 at Kozhikode, Kerala. His father National Dairy Development Board, Part of his aspiration has been was a civil surgeon in Cochin and and IRMA. He was Founder Chairman fulfilled with several IRMA graduates his mother was a highly educated of IRMA until he relinquished his Syrian Christian lady. Dr. Kurien office in 2006. Of all the institutions Dr. Kurien built, nurtured passed away at the age of 90 in the that he founded, IRMA was closest to and managed dozens of early hours of September 9, 2012 at his heart. He founded IRMA with the a Nadiad hospital near Anand after institutions of excellence conviction that the rural managers a brief illness. He is survived by his produced by IRMA would help wife, a daughter, and a grandson. transform India’s rural sector into now heading many prestigious Although a native of Kerala by birth a vibrant, modern, and progressive organisations including AMUL, he chose Anand in Gujarat as his entity via professional management. GCMMF, and the agri-business karma bhumi, where he stayed and I remember him saying that ‘rural’ division of ITC. worked for over six decades. did not mean ‘backward’, nor did he Dr. Kurien’s contribution to rural Dr. Kurien was the architect of want rural managers produced by development, particularly to India’s modern dairy industry IRMA to live in thatched huts and cooperative dairy development, and has been rightly called the serve the rural poor while remaining has been recognised at both the Father of ‘White Revolution’. He poor themselves. He wanted IRMA national and international levels. He ingeniously designed, funded and graduates to be reasonably well garnered many prestigious awards implemented the Operation Flood paid à la their counterparts from the including the Ramon Magsaysay (OF) programme, which was the IIMs and other reputed management Award-1963, Wateler Peace Prize world’s largest dairy development schools and to serve the rural sector -1986, Krishi Ratna Puruskar -1986, programme. OF enabled India not with a missionary zeal. He would the World Food Prize-1989, Padma only to attain self sufficiency in milk often exhort the IRMA students Vibhushan -1999 and the Economic production but also to emerge as the saying that if one Kurien could make Times Life Time Achievement Award world’s largest milk producer. The such a difference to India’s dairy – 2001. Besides, he was also Amul model of dairy development sector, there was no reason why awarded honorary doctorate degrees underpinning the OF is, today, an thousands of IRMA graduates could by 11 reputed Indian and foreign internationally renowned strategy for not transform the entire rural sector, universities including his alma mater, promoting the economic and social alleviate the problems associated Michigan State University, USA. well being of small milk producers with rural poverty, and enable rural I had the pleasure and privilege including millions of landless producers to attain the economic of working closely with Dr. Kurien households, marginal and small and social status they deserved. for over 22 years till August 31, farmers. Amul brand dairy products He visualised IRMA graduates 2002 when I retired as Director, are known their quality. heading all governmental and non- IRMA. Dr. Kurien was an engineer The array of top-notch institutions governmental organisations engaged by training but a manager par that Dr. Kurien built, nurtured, and in rural development eventually. excellence by practice. He believed
  12. 12. 12 Network that management was better taught approval to the proposal. Very soon and attending official functions by those who have managed thereafter, IRMA got a telegram from and meetings. organisations than by those with the Ministry stating that the IRMA Dr. Kurien was both feared and MBA degrees sans management proposal had been approved by respected by officers and staff in experience. While meeting with them. Dr. Kurien’s happiness knew the organisations that he founded IRMA’s faculty he would shoot the no bounds. and headed. His critics considered question, and I quote him, “how Dr. Kurien was my mentor from him ruthless and a dictator. Yet I many of you have managed any whom I learnt many invaluable guru was never afraid of him and had organisation?” Meeting with a mantras of management from time always an easy access to him. What negative response he would ask, to time. Some of those mantras are is more, I found him to be a great “How can you teach management?” recapitulated below: human being with a kind heart full of He was vocal in his criticism of social compassion and strong convictions. scientists, particularly economists • Attach the highest values to whom he would often deride. He was integrity and sincerity in your Dr. Kurien was a great patriot, a fond of saying that social scientists work and behaviour. visionary, and a real Bharat Ratna did not engage in any constructive • Give people more than what they in the literal sense. Farmers, development work but only wrote expect. particularly milk producers, will and criticised those who did good always remember him as their • Give adequate attention to even messiah. He had unflinching faith work for people’s benefit. the minute details of every job in producers’ cooperatives as the A great strategist he knew how assigned to you best instrument of promoting the to use politicians and bureaucrats • While writing a letter to an economic and social well being to help achieve his mission. I can important person prepare several of rural producers and pursued recall a plethora of instances when drafts, revise and improve them this philosophy single-mindedly he achieved his objectives using until you are fully satisfied. throughout his life. I don’t know of any this approach. I shall cite just one of living person who has contributed so them here. The proposal for setting • Before making a call to an much towards promoting the cause up IRMA had been pending with important person or official of agricultural and rural development the Ministry of Agriculture for over seeking his / her approval of an in India. May his high ideals and two years. The Expenditure Finance important proposal, rehearse it lofty principles guide and inspire the Committee (EFC) would raise trivial several times before you make young generation of rural managers queries which it would expect IRMA the call. to contribute their best in the service to answer. Since I was, at the time, • Be punctual and ensure of rural producers in India. IRMA’s Coordinator, Administration, punctuality from everyone else in Dr. Kurien would ask me to answer the organisation / department that the queries and put up drafts of letters you head. “The establishment of IRMA in to the EFC on his behalf. That done, 1979, with the objective of providing more queries would follow suit. As • Keep your eyes and ears open high quality management training, the cycle went on he got fed up and for knowing what is happening in research and consultancy support to came up with an ingenious solution. your organisation. cooperatives and rural development He invited the then prime Minister of • Remain accessible to even the organisations was yet another India, Mrs. Indira Gandhi as Chief lowest level employees in your creative and innovative venture Guest at IRMA’s first Convocation. organisation and act on their for which the nation would always Having known Dr. Kurien personally suggestions, if required, to both remain indebted to Dr. Kurien and Mrs. Gandhi accepted the invitation. reform the system and/ or redress his colleagues”. Word got around and the Ministry of their grievances. – Dr Manmohan Singh, Secretary, GOI Agriculture got into action, speeding 10th Annual Convocation Address, 1991 • Be courteous and follow up the process of granting its etiquettes when meeting visitors By: Dr. Katar Singh, Former Director of IRMA; currently Honorary (Founder) Chairman, India Natural Resources Economics and Management (INREM) Foundation, Anand -388 001 E-mail: singhkatar@gmail.com
  13. 13. 13 Network Remembering the Legend Dr. Kurien’s Better Half An informal tête-à-tête with Mrs. Kurien. T he staid grace of Molly Kurien appears to epitomise the oft- repeated cliché: “Behind every Waking up at the wee hours of the night had become endemic to the existence of the couple. “Every the twin rust-coloured setters she had raised since they were pups. Dr. Kurien, not overly fond of pets, successful man is a great woman.” now and then he would have to run too grew to love them. Dr. Kurien Mrs. Kurien’s greatness lies in her to Delhi with regard to work. The did not share her passion for quiet strength and fortitude. Her nearest airport being in Ahmedabad reading although he loved reading recent loss hasn’t daunted this we would have to rise at two thirty newspapers and watching TV news. indomitable woman who stood by so that he would be able to catch An ardent sports’ lover he enjoyed her legendary husband through the the early morning flight to Delhi.” a good of tennis. Chess was his vicissitudes of a life full of brilliance And so it went on for years. “One favourite among indoor sports. “Only and inspiration. The drawing room of the good things about Kurien was towards the end,” she reminisces of her house reflects the reticent that no matter how challenging the sadly, “he started withdrawing. He grandeur of its occupant. Her work at hand, he was able to switch didn’t want to play any game, not daughter Nirmala, she says, lives in off at will. He never carried his work even chess.” Chennai. She looks at us as if bracing worries into the house.” The secret Time is merciless, as they say, and for the inevitable question: what of longevity in a long-standing on September 9 it took away her part did she play in her husband’s relationship like marriage, perhaps? husband and a great soul from our revolutionary contributions? Did the originator of India’s White midst. It is a loss Mrs. Molly Kurien “It was all his doing, all the ideas, Revolution exhibit any of his by- has borne with characteristic fortitude everything,” she smiles, “I, of course, now famous traits of integrity and and grace. That day, at the Kurien’s supported him.” Did the Kuriens have punctuality at home? “He certainly tastefully appointed house we learnt a social life? “Here? In this town? did so,” she laughs. “If he set a time a little more of the man that was Do you know, when I first came to he would stick to it no matter what. Dr. Kurien. And we came away with Anand I wanted to run away!” she And he stood by the principle of deep admiration for his better half. articulates in a tone that doesn’t integrity right till the very end.” Yet betray a trace of her Keralite origin. the man, contrary to his image, was Communication was a barrier being far from formidable. Once a young unfamiliar with the language. “I still student wanted to meet with him and can’t speak Gujarati,” she sighs. “It simply hung outside, too overawed was a little difficult to have a social to enter. Dr. Kurien, on learning of life really given the hectic schedule this, invited her in. Later the student of my husband,” she admits. “By couldn’t help lauding aloud the the time he would return from work humility and friendliness of the man. it would be seven thirty (if he didn’t With her husband constantly under have a meeting, that is). Dinner the spotlight his better half devoted would soon follow and he would be herself fully to the running of the in bed by nine.” house, which she did with full In the early years, when Dr. Kurien capability at her command. During was building Amul and other his frequent absences she turned institutions, he would wake up at towards her favourite passion: two thirty in the morning, deliberate books. “I love mystery thrillers,” on what was to be done and then she enthuses, her favourite author go back to sleep to wake up later being John Grisham among other at six am. This was the routine for mystery novelists. “And I love dogs!” several years. she beams recalling with affection Mrs. Molly Kurien Indrani Talukdar, Editor, IRMA, E-mail: indrani@irma.ac.in Mrs. Kurien was interviewed by the Network team in October 2012, prior to her sad demise
  14. 14. 14 Network Up Close and Personal Being personal assistant to a legend is never easy, yet it is also an experience to be valued. T his happened one winter. November 1998, to be precise. Dr. Verghese Kurien, who had just from our boss while I would take care of all routine matters of office correspondence and coordinate Dr. Kurien’s punctuality fixation is well known. He would make a point of being present – meetings included stepped down from the Chairmanship his travel plans. Joseph, obviously, – prior to the time fixed. Those of NDDB shifted his office to IRMA. had more interactions with him were the days when, during guest I was told by the Administration than I did. Then Joseph went on programmes arranged by the NDDB, Coordinator that I would henceforth leave and I was required to interact guests would also come thronging to be working in Dr. Kurien’s with him on a one on one basis. I IRMA, AMUL, and other places. Any Secretariat. I received the news would enter Dr. Kurien’s office with delay in a guest programme or a with mixed feelings having heard trepidation telling myself, “a mouse meeting would have the programme umpteen stories about my legendary entering the lion’s den” and hear my coordinator come running to Dr. new boss who had the reputation heart thudding. In time I realised the Kurien informing him about it. for being a hard task master. I had deep humility of the man. It dawned Once, during the height of summer, long known about his strict views on on me that me that Dr. Kurien’s personality was coconut-like: hard someone from a group of visitors discipline and punctuality and was on the outside and soft inside. All questioned Dr. Kurien about the already trembling thinking of my new that he asked for was that the job on green lushness of the lawns at the assignment. hand be attended to with immediate Institute. Dr. Kurien, then IRMA On the first day I entered the office effect. He also liked to have honest Chairman, looked at the group and I was greeted by P.A. Joseph, Dr. answers sans trappings. If you did solemnly declared, “we don’t water Kurien’s Executive Assistant who laid not know something required of you, the lawns.’ As he paused for a second my considerable fears aside. Joseph it was best to admit it instead of before throwing up both hands in his would be taking work instructions humming and hawing. characteristic style everybody looked The Government of India showered him with awards; the highest Indian award, “Bharat Ratna”, kept eluding him.
  15. 15. 15 Network Remembering the Legend on expectantly. “We pour milk, our from the members’ list on the draft Padma Shree, Padma Bhushan heart!” The group burst out laughing. agenda before sending it off to the and Padma Vibhushan. The highest Like his punctuality, his Chairman who immediately crossed Indian award, “Bharat Ratna”, kept meticulousness had become a out his name. When I mentioned this eluding him, however. byword in IRMA. I recall an incident to Prof. Tushaar Shah, who was then Director of the Institute, he laughed It is said that behind every successful from when I was working at the and said, “That is why Dr. Kurien man there is a woman. Inestimable Director’s office. Draft agenda items is our Chairman!” The smallest of credit goes to Mrs. Molly Kurien prior to Board meetings would be sent to Dr. Kurien who was then mistakes did not escape his sharp who stood behind her husband like Chairman. A board member from eyes. There would be no pending a solid rock. Dr. Kurien used to say: the Rural Development Ministry correspondence in Dr. Kurien’s “Integrity, Integrity and Integrity.” of the Central Government had office. All decisions would be taken That’s the stuff legends are made of. just been transferred to another immediately and all incoming letters We are all fortunate for having had government department. He had, answered with immediate effect. Dr. Kurien as our Founder Chairman as a consequence, ceased to be The Government of India showered whose vision, mission and guidance a member of the IRMA Board. I him with awards including the made what IRMA is today. had forgotten to remove his name By: P S Mohan, EA to Chairman, IRMA; Email- psmohan@irma.ac.in Contd... from p. 8 IRMA endeavours to prepare you to actualise all your human potentialities - to grow yourself but also contribute to the development of others, particularly the rural sector which has remained largely neglected and without whose development India cannot develop much. Rural India remains mired with several serious problems like poverty, illiteracy, unemployment, inequalities, discriminations and environmental degradations – all these being gigantic in magnitude. Moreover, these problems are getting further aggravated in recent years due to the negative impact of the forces of globalisation, particularly on the weaker sections of society who live in large number in rural areas, though the upper and urban middle classes have benefited from the recent changes. The challenges before the country today are manifold and very critical. IRMA is focused to contribute to resolve the challenges confronting rural India. But resolving these challenges would require not only expertise and knowledge, but more importantly conviction, commitment and sincerity. Having graduated from here and while working for the rural sector, where I wish to see you, I am sure, you will have enough to meet your material needs. Moreover, rural India would provide you ample space to be innovative and creative in your activities. You will be able to fully utilise your head - expertise and skills learnt here and elsewhere - and also heart to promote the cause of the weak and the marginalized. Very difficult challenges may come your way while doing your work in and for the rural sector. But when both head and heart are together, you will be able to withstand all adversities and emerge victorious. That has been my experience working for over 50 years for the rural sector. The rewards of even your every small success would be immense - not mere material but also social and psychological. You will certainly be able, like many IRMANs who are working in and for the rural sector despite all adversities, to bring a smile on the face of the common people, particularly the weak and the marginalised. In lieu of that, the love and respect the people would shower over you, will bring the kind of happiness in your life which even a huge pile of money can never ever buy. I hope, you all will take the institute to further heights through your studies and subsequent contributions to rural India. Your happiness will always make me ever happier in life. I am now old, but only in age. My commitment to the cause of rural India remains unshaken. In fact, in view of the hunger for power and money increasing all around these days, my resolve has got further affirmed. Like you, like other IRMANs, you are the ambassadors to carry forward the mission of the Institute. I am confident you will never falter in marching ahead and bring a smile to the lowliest in the land. I take this opportunity once again to welcome you all to IRMA. I wish you all the best.
  16. 16. 16 Network Amul Dairy Museum: The Milky Way to Success A groundbreaking museum in the heart of the city showcasing Dr. Kurien’s magnificent successes in the dairy industry is definitely worth a visit. T he Amul Dairy Cooperative Museum is a major landmark of The piece de resistance is the garage where Dr Kurien spent his the house has an inspiring display of the many, many awards won by Anand city. If one desires to obtain a early days in Anand as a reluctant Dr. Kurien for his yeoman service sound understanding of the evolution apprentice. This garage, which was to the cause of rural livelihoods and of the dairy cooperative industry in located near Anand railway station, poverty alleviation in Gujarat. The Gujarat spearheaded by Dr Kurien, was literally rebuilt, brick by brick, Ramon Magsaysay and Padmashri which has uplifted multitudes of on the Amul Dairy premises. It is farmers, this is the place to visit. awards deserve special mention. indeed fascinating, yet frightening, It is located on the Amul Dairy to think that the legend spent his Dr Kurien’s penchant for perfection premises. Visitors are greeted by a initial days in such circumstances. can be gauged from the lush green, lovely fountain and a building made It is perhaps symbolic of the rapid prim and proper lawns surrounding of red stones. The pathway to the strides made by dairy cooperatives his house. gallery is adorned with a number of in Gujarat under the able leadership photographs depicting the gradual One leaves the museum in quite a of Dr. Kurien, Tribhovandas Patel, evolution of the dairy cooperative and other stalwarts. Adjacent to the bit of awe, as also with a healthy industry in Gujarat. Indeed, each garage is the house where Dr. Kurien dose of inspiration regarding the photograph contains a unique story subsequently lived, a grand structure infinite potential of the human mind, within it. Also there are photos in white. The entire ground floor of body and soul. showcasing some historic letters, a key one being that sent by Sardar Patel to Amul Dairy bemoaning the monopoly of Polson Dairy and the need to address this issue at the earliest. The Public Relations officer, Mr. Sundar, further livens it up with lots of interesting historical anecdotes. In fact, he has done immensely well by translating Sardar Patel’s letter in English. The Dairy Museum also has an Auditorium equipped with 100 seats, where movies on the history and evolution of the milk movement of India are projected. Mr. Sundar recounted Dr. Kurien’s innumerable memorable interactions with young The piece de resistance is the garage where Dr Kurien spent his students here. early days in Anand as a reluctant apprentice. By: Prof. Anand Venkatesh, Associate Professor, IRMA, Email- anand@irma.ac.in
  17. 17. 17 Network Remembering the Legend Down Memory Lane A formidable figure who was as cutting in his speech as he was witty, Dr. Kurien was also the milk of human kindness and the epitome of fairness. T his happened in October 1979. One afternoon Dr. Kurien called all the people who had joined IRMA presentation at the Academic of Marketing Science Conference, USA in 1987. I contacted the then Director at the conference do you think I would have had the courage to come and meet you?” I told him the but working out of NDDB (there being PS Appu for travel support but was truth about how I had got the tickets no IRMA campus). These included rejected. An old friend (Venu) in and paid for them. That’s when he Tushaar Shah, VC Sood, Arvind Ahmedabad, who was running a changed his tone and tenor and Swaminathan, Prof. S Sambrani, travel agency, happened to mention said gently, “You know, these days, and Soman Nair. Soman Nair, who that he could get me a ticket from so many foreign agencies hook good had just got the Institute registered was to hand over the certificate to VC Sood. In my youthful innocence “There is an imaginary wall of excellence I am building I asked a question “Sir, how do you around this institution. Keep it up even after my death.” feel, seeing IRMA getting registered?” Dr. Kurien shot back “I am not going India to the academicians through funding and, if to study at IRMA, nor will I teach at anybody from IRMA gets into such a Conference venue and back at 50 IRMA. Therefore, you guys have to trap, bad name will ultimately come percent the market rate (around take it to better heights every year.” to the Institute. That is why I wanted Rs.7000 at the time). I borrowed He further said, “Please remember an explanation.” He concluded with: money from several sources and that there is an imaginary wall of “In any case, do give a reply to my decided to go (my first sojourn excellence I am building around this memo immediately.” I sent the reply outside India) to present my paper. institution. Keep it up even after my within one hour. Some of my well- I informed the Director’s office death.” There was subdued laughter. meaning colleagues looked happy about going to the US for a paper and the others sad. Another incident comes to mind. This presentation one day prior to my was in the early 80’s, when we had departure. On my return there was That was Dr. Kurien- a Lion who a minor conflict regarding who would a one-page letter from Dr. Kurien could roar and be as gentle as a hoist the flag on Independence (who was officiating as Director at lamb at the same time. Day and Republic Day at IRMA. A the time) asking why action should proposal went to Dr. Kurien’s office not be taken against me for going “It would call for deep commitment requesting him to hoist the flag on abroad. This letter was lying on my and a willingness to stake all, if one both days as he was the Chairman table. Some of my colleagues couldn’t is to succeed. The struggle would of IRMA. Dr. Kurien redounded with: help making sarcastic comments be daunting, but when the day is “What is the name of that fellow or indulging in sadistic laughter on seeing my woeful condition. (The won, I am sure you would find that who is the senior most employee it was well worth it. You are setting of IRMA?” When my name was letter also mentioned that I should reply within 24 hours of receiving it). out from under the guardianship of mentioned he said: “Let that fellow I did not reply to the letter instantly one of the finest victors of such a hoist the flag on Independence instead, I sought an appointment struggle, and I am sure you will find Day and Republic Day.” I had the privilege of hoisting the flag at IRMA with Dr. Kurien. Walking into his Dr. Kurien’s example a great source on both these important days till I room the following day I realised of inspiration when the going is left in 1991. he did not know that I had applied tough.” for travel support from the Institute Another Incident and been rejected. I told him, “Sir, – Shri Pranab Mukherjee (Deputy Chairman, Planning Commission) My paper on “India’s Rural had I taken money from some 11th Annual Convocation Address, 1992 Consumers” was accepted for foreign sources and participated By: Dr. V. Mukunda Das, former faculty of IRMA; currently the Director of Chandragupt Institute of Management Patna, an institution built on the lines of IIMs by the Government of Bihar. E-mail: vmknd.das@gmail.com
  18. 18. 18 Network Decoding the King A rather sassy observation of the Colossus that was Dr. Kurien, with tongue firmly in cheek! I t was a Sunday morning. As the flight doors were closing with the plane about to head out of Ahmedabad I how posterity should remember him- evidence being available in the immortalisation of the garage Matthai had a sense of equity and trust imprinted on his management style. That put a greater responsibility got an SMS stating that Dr.Kurien he lived in along with the museum on individuals to deliver because it was no more. This was wholly atAmul. was a loss of honour not to do so. unanticipated as I had been in IRMA For somebody like me whose career The Kurien style was suspicion and the previous day attending a board has been shaped by the early hierarchy. The loyalty for the purpose meeting.An accidental meeting with gleanings at IRMA, Kurien was that we were to serve had to be worn Sodhi of GCMMF had given rise to certainly an inspiration. However, on the sleeve and reiterated often. an exchange of pleasantries, nothing it was always a challenge to see more. So the nation was bidding The trigger for setting up IRMA came how this inspiration could be goodbye to the grand old milkman from the realisationthat talents from internalised. Each leader comes as who had a fulfilling 90th birthday institutions like IIMA wereserving a package replete with positives and just about recently. The country said negatives. I have to say, though, corporate bodies without a “soul”; goodbye, even before they could that unless one has the complete IRMA was supposed to be an confer on him with a Bharat Ratna qualities of a personality like Kurien institution with a difference. Kurien, something that could have made the it is impossible to pull off his style. we are told, sought the inputs of nation proud. But then, we can take During our student days at fieldwork Matthai on how to get the place solace in small mercies in this slip in and during our internships I found going. Matthai was also on the the fact that even Gandhi missed the many a manager at NDDB and board of IRMA as long as he was Nobel peace prize. associated institutions behave with alive. However the first significant I learnt that Kurien was not buried the arrogance that mimicked the difference we saw in IRMA was customary to religion but cremated grand old man without the backing the way hierarchy was embedded at the Anand electric crematorium as of talent and ability. We saw many in the organisation, with several per his wishes. That was KingKurien of these celebrated managers fall by operational matters being escalated for us, having his way in life and in the wayside as they tried to emulate all the way up to the Chairman. The death. The reason for the cremation his style sans substance. IIMA Chairman was at best seen five was cited as his wish to be sent to the Kurien embodied fearlessness, to six times on the campus, largely other world in a modalitycompatible tenacity of purpose, perseverance, when there was a board meeting. with the local culture and which also integrity, and ethics.Did he embody IRMA was an institution that had respected the farmers that he had fairness? I am not sure. Deep down passion, a holier than thou body served all his life. I was somewhat he was very practical.Having seen astounded, to tell the truth, as language; it gave moral authority so much corruption and inefficiency he had never adapted himself to but was an institution of permissions he was possibly suspicious, which the local culture: living life on his and paper. The hierarchy was made him a control freak. Having terms, claiming that he never liked served at two institutions – one that unambiguous in the allotment of milk and never drank it, wearing had a quintessential Kurien mark all quarters, travel eligibility, and the non-vegetarianism on his sleeve over it (IRMA)and the other that had sense of autonomy. The conceptof and refusing to speak Gujarati. Far the personality of his cousin Ravi right and wrong was not always left stronger was the possibility that he Matthai stamped all over (IIMA) – to the conscience of the individual did not want a memorial built at an one could spot the fundamental but had to be checked with a higher inappropriate place amidst a crowd of difference in the approach of these up, that could go all the way up to tombstoneshaving already ensured two institutional builders. the Chair.

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