Dr Verghese Kurien, father of the White Revolution in India, on Monday announced his decision to resign from the chairmanship of Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA) in the wake of the growing dissent against him after occupying the post for almost 30 years.
"I have been at the helm for long. Time has come for me to make way for the younger blood to take over the reins and lead the organisation towards the future," Kurien told mediapersons in Mumbai.
"It is not possible to hold on to an office for such a long time. Others too have the right to occupy the chair. I should have done it long ago. But better late than never," Kurien said.
IRMA was set up to support institutions like Amul. Today there are more than 11 million cooperative dairy farmers all over India under the Amul-model dairy cooperatives.
"I stepped down from the Chairmanship of National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in 1998, after being its founder-chairman for 33 years. But I never drew any salary from NDDB as I always wanted to be an employee of the farmers, rather than the government," he said.
Recently, Kurien resigned as the Chairman of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) after being its co-founder-chairman for 32 years, "but having elected unanimously every year."
"The highest monthly salary I ever drew from GCMMF was Rs 5,000, that too I stopped drawing 24 years ago, when I reached the age of 60 years," he said.
"And today I announce my decision to resign from the Chairmanship of IRMA Board of Governors. I will be sending my resignation when the IRMA Board meets on June 8," he said.
In a media statement, Kurien said: "The genesis of IRMA was in response to the need of rural producers' organisations for professional managers -- intelligent young men and women who are fired by the desire to transform rural India and equipped with skills and knowledge of management education combined with development orientation."
"In this short period IRMA has become a pioneer in the field of rural management and a pathfinder. For more than 57 years that I have been involved with development, I have worked from a simple premise: the farmers know what is best for them, what they need is professional support to help them achieve full development potential," he said.
"I believe that the success of AMUL, which triggered large-scale dairy development efforts making India the top milk producing country in the world today, can be repeated in many other fields. What we need to do is to help rural producers build institutions owned and controlled by them. When farmers' wisdom is combined with professional managerial skills, you witness a development miracle," he added.
"Unfortunately, barring a few, professionals from conventional management schools were neither willing nor had the orientation to work for rural organisations. IRMA was founded with this realisation and the two-year course in Rural Management was started to train young women and men to work for farmers and the rural poor. I believe that a co-operative -- an enterprise of, by and for users -- is the institution that can work best," he further said.
"IRMA trains the youth to be multi-faceted innovators and catalysts of rural change in the broadest sense of the term. IRMA's engagement with the rural sector has brought in more partners, NGOs, development organisations, funding agencies, and other member-controlled organisations. More than 2,000 rural management professionals trained by IRMA are now working in wide ranging rural organisations across the country and beyond. Since Independence India has made progress in many areas, in agricultural production, in dairy industry, in science and technology, in telecom and several other industries. But a lot remains to be done to take the fruits of development to the rural people," Kurien said in the statement.
"IRMA offers to train our youth for challenging careers in rural management, careers that would make a difference to the lives of the rural people. Careers in rural sector value the qualities of integrity, creativity and excellence in professionals while providing opportunities to build institutions and grow with them. Working for rural producers and the disadvantaged sections of the population is doubly rewarding for those who join IRMA and for the nation as well, and offers challenges. To those who have an enduring commitment and an earnest desire to equip themselves professionally to contribute to the cause of rural transformation, I would urge that they should consider joining IRMA," he said.
"I came to Anand (Gujarat) 57 years ago, to be precise, on Friday, May 13, 1949. The Government of India sent me to the Government Research Creamery at Anand on my return from the United States after my post-graduate studies at the Michigan State University. Since the Government of India had sent me to the United States on a scholarship, I was under obligation to serve for five years anywhere the government sent me," he said.
"Immediately after I came to Anand, I realized that there was hardly any work for me at the Research Creamery. And, Anand then was a sleepy small town with hardly any infrastructure. I could not get a place to stay; in fact being born Christian, a non-vegetarian and a bachelor, nobody was willing to rent me a house. I, therefore, had to stay in the garage of the dairy. I wanted to leave Anand. However, soon I was lucky to get in touch with great freedom-fighters like the founder-chairman of Amul, late Shri Tribhuvandas Patel and Shri Morarji Desai. Shri Tribhuvandas Patel for some reasons liked me and got me increasingly involved in the running of the Amul Dairy," Kurien said.
"The rest is history. By 1997 India had become the largest milk producing country in the world, surpassing the United States. Unlike many of the present day leaders, Tribhuvandas Patel was a great patriot and was genuinely concerned for the well being of farmers. For him, the co-operative was an article of faith. He was my Guru. Very soon, the faith in co-operatives also grew in me. I believed in the power of our people. . . our farmers. All the institutions I have been fortunate to be associated with believed in the power of our people," he said.
"Amul today is the largest food business in India, with an annual turnover of over Rs 3,500 (Rs 35 billion) crores. But, to me, Amul is a manifestation of what the small and marginal dairy farmers and landless labourers can achieve when they are given proper leadership and direction. Unfortunately, under the present liberalisation era, governments seem to give step-motherly treatment to peoples' organisations like co-operatives!"
"IRMA was set up to support institutions like Amul. Today, there are more than 11 million co-operative dairy farmers all over India under the Amul-Model dairy co-operatives. Dairying has become the single largest contributor to the agricultural economy of India, besides being the largest rural employment provider."
"I stepped down from the chairmanship of NDDB in 1998, after being its Founder-Chairman for 33 years. But I never drew any salary from NDDB as I always wanted to be an employee of the farmers, rather than the government."
"Recently I resigned as the chairman of GCMMF after being its founder-chairman for 32 years, but having been elected unanimously each year. The highest monthly salary I ever drew from GCMMF was Rs 5,000, that too I stopped drawing 24 years ago when I reached the age of 60."
"And today I announce my decision to resign from the chairmanship of IRMA Board of Governors. I will be sending my resignation when the IRMA board meets on June 8, 2006."
"To those who have not been so happy in my continuing in office, I only want to say one thing. Whatever positions I have held since my reaching the age of 60 were all honorary and elected positions. I enjoyed serving the organizations I helped to set up, because a large number of people wanted me to continue to serve the nation. But now, there are some people who are restless to occupy the positions I have held and waiting for my exit."
"I wish them well. But I hope they will not tinker with the fundamental principles on which these institutions were built, nurtured and brought to their present stature," he concluded.
With inputs from PTI