Allow co-operatives to function with new vigour.
National Dairy Development Board and the Karnataka Milk Federation
Can the NDDB prevent the State Government to interfere with KMF’s affairs?
What is the role of the state government in the working of the NDDB-funded autonomous body?
The National Dairy Development Board(NDDB) is an internationally acclaimed success story. NDDB is a byword for success in the co-operative milk production and marketing. NDDB is called upon by several foreign governments to set up milk co-ops in their countries.
And the world over, it is the milk production and distribution, marketing that is done successfully only through a co-operative structure, this is the most successful business model, to use the current jargon.
So, NDDB must have the last work when it comes to charges like political interference.
In Karnataka, it is the political tussle between the politician-cum chairman of the state’s milk marketing federation, Karnataka Milk Marketing Federation chairman, Mr.Revanna and the state’s BJP government and the party’s minister, Lakshman S.Savadi that has caught the attention of many observers.
First, the politics. The KMF chairman is a JD(S) heavy-weight. His father, the former Prime Minister Deve Gowda has no love lost for the BJP which was badly treated by the former PM and so the current revenge-type political reversal which puts the BJP government in power and that had led to this tit-for tat moves on the part of the KMF and the BJP government.
Now, the Co-operation dept has ordered a probe into the affairs of the KF and this KMF contests. Mr.Revann had got the information under the Right to information act and he mad made this information public. What is the information? Under the RTI Mr.Revann got a clean chit, there was no complaint about the working of the KMF and only an enquiry was ordered under instruction room the Chief Minister’s office! And yet in a press conference the Co-op minister has maintained that “we have received complaints against the KMF!”. So, an enquiry was ordered! Why the minister gave a wrong reply? It is an offence to give a wrong or false reply under the RTI act. He won’t comment further, said the minister, as the matter was before the court.
Funny turn of events or simply a shadow fight that won’t lead anyone anywhere?
The minister has come up with some complaints. Filling up of vacancies or disbursing the milk incentives of Rs. 2 litre of milk etc. The state government had released Rs.30 crores to be given to the farmers through the district milk unions and the farmers have complained they haven’t yet received the money. The allegations and counter allegations don’t lead anyone anywhere. No one, let alone Mr.Revanna would come in the way of the government’s steps to strengthen the milk unions financial health and so it doesn’t seem to carry conviction when the minister says that the KMF chairman is not co-operating. Nor does it carry conviction about the minister’s charge that Mr.Revanna is posing challenges at the government. Now, the enquiry team of 21-members and headed by one officer himself alleged to have been facing corruption charges only helps to complicate the affairs in the KMF, supposed to be one of the best run milk federations.
The MD of KMF, Ramalinge gowda has written to the NDDB about the political interference of the state government in an organisation that is governed by the Letter of Understanding (LoU) entered into with the NDDB in 1989 and the scheme is implemented, that is the working of the KMF, is under the Operation Flood programme.
Since the NDDB has extended considerable financial assistance for the state dairy co-operatives, it is only wise that the state government must desist from iching to interfere with a well-run organisation that is governed by a different set of rules.
The NDDB principles are well-known and they need to be reiterated. One , how to run the co-operative production units like the milk co-ops economically viable and here the persons running the units must be given complete operational freedoms. Second, the co-ops must be run professionally and there is no role for active politicians.
So, what the state government does smacks of some political revenge -taking. If that is the only consideration, then, the government must desist further proceeding in the affairs of the body.
KMF, by public perception, is a great success story. This we say by observing how the Operation Flood schemes in TN and Kerala, to cite only the two we know, are miserable failures. Failures by wanton destruction by the state governments. There are some politicians who don’t want new innovations and new successes to be allowed under their narrow regimes.
Also, the Karnataka High Court is now enquiring the affairs.
But whatever the outcome of the political and legal battles, we require the state government to allow the co-operative institutions to be governed by autonomous bodies and not by direct political interference, even through government officials.
What we say here applies to many such new experiments, institutions like panchayat raj institutions and also agri credit co-ops.