Authors Posts by BM Vyas

BM Vyas

Mr. BM Vyas took-over as Managing Director of AMUL Co-Op. during expansion and opening up of the Indian economy & globalization in the 90s. In order to take on the competition, he championed Total Quality Management across the dairy value chain in Gujarat. Within a span of 16 years at helm of AMUL, he increased sales of AMUL to eight-folds (from Rs. 9.8 billion to Rs. 80 billion). He steered AMUL to be Asia’s largest fresh Milk processor or No. 1 Dairy Brand in India as well as in Asia Pacific, as per Media Magazine Survey, 2009. Under his leadership; AMUL launched innovative and special Dietary products like Probiotic & Sugar Free Ice Cream, Probiotic buttermilk for the first time in India.

Indian dairy industry – Past, Present and Future


Indian dairy industry – Past, Present And The Boom Ahead

We have all read or heard sometime in our life that in past India was a land flowing with milk and honey. Yet when we became independent in 1947 milk was scarce and beyond our means. In urban india the per capita consumption was barely 35 kg per year versus a world average of 125 kg.

India had some of the best breeds of cattle in the world, cows such as Sahiwal, Red Sindhi, Gir, Kankrej, Ongol and buffallo breeds like Murrah, Mehsani, Banni etc. We had a beautiful tropical weather, fertile land mass, a reasonably good monsoon and five perennial rivers flowing through fertile land and mountains.

With such natural resources bestowed on this country it begs a questions as to what went wrong with dairy farming in India? How a country so rich in milk and honey became devoid of milk?

To answer this question, we must look at the history in a different light.

Traditionally India had some of the best cattle breeders in the world and most high yielding genetic stock. But that is until the British arrived in India. With the advent of British era urbanization around India, major sea ports such as Mumbai. Chennai, Cochin, Kolkata and the national capital Delhi started growing rapidly.

This ever increasing population meant a rising demand for milk resulting into formation of what is now known as “tabelas” or “khattals”, enclosures where cows and buffalos were reared for milk. If one takes a local train from north of Mumbai to South, you can still spot a large number of these enclosures along side the railway tracks. These tabela owners are keen to maximize their profits and they would bring best of the high yeilding buffalos from hinter-land some along with their young calves and within a week they would wean away the calf and send it to slaughter house.

The buffalo will be reared for a few lactation cycles and then disposed off to a slaughter house. The empty slots in the tabela are soon replaced with next best stock purchased from the hinterland.

Since the tabela owners weaned away the calf and sent it to slaughter house, each time a calf is slaughtered, the next best genetic stock was lost because the ‘calf’ is the future cow. Ignorant tabela owners were inadvertently destroying the best genetic stock of the country. By killing the calf of a good buffalo or cow, they were inherently killing the best cow/buffalo of the future! Each time they cycle in next best stock and off to a slaughter house, the country was losing its best genetic pedigree year after year.

This process went on, unchecked for more than a century and not just in Mumbai but in all metros of India. This resulted into a severe loss of high yielding genetic stock and country was left with milch animals with dismal productivity.

In 1946 when Amul came into existence, a new beginning of farmer-owned organized dairy cooperative movement took hold. Till then all of the government milk schemes, were more milk distribution & urban consumer focused rather than on milk production. As the AMUL model grew – providing a fair market access and remunerative prices to the farmers along with services such veterinary care, balanced cattle feed supply, artificial insemination, progeny tested frozen semen – the supplies of milk production and its productivity started going up. For the first time in about 200 years then, someone was trying to stop and reverse almost 1000 year of animal genetic stock deterioration.

Between mid seventies to nineties, the dairy cooperative movement spread to more than 200 milk producing districts of India with milk production growing at 4 to 5% pa. Even with limited gains on productivity, scarce fodder, frequent draughts the farmers largely dependent on agri-residual feeding and even then India emerged as one of the largest producers of milk in the world. Another startling thing happened – the per capita milk consumption rose and was almost equal to the global average.

Now, if even in such trying circumstances, if milk production could increase from 20 million ton’s in 70’s to 121 million ton now; i.e. almost 6 fold in 40 odd years – why do our bureaucrats in New Delhi, sitting in their plush air conditioned offices doubt that in next ten years the milk production will not grow 7th fold?

This raises some grave doubts about their intent. Claims that Delhi gets tea when Amul milk reaches there from Gujarat but it is not as if any government has done anything to make it happen! My only reply to these statements is, lets not forget the blood sweat and tears of Tribhovandas, Dr. Kurien and Moti bhai Chaudhary. It is their effort, and their’s alone, that today New Delhi gets milk every morning for their tea.

Several studies show that milk production is likely to double and cross 200 Mn. tons by 2020. I am sure this is achievable, with better infrastructure – road connectivity, power supply, faster communication, and more educated milk producers with an ever expanding demand for milk & milk products in this country.

What has been achieved till now has been of the strategic initiatives of Dr. Kurien and the likes but it is sad the despite the availability of technology and new infrastructure, the national institutions responsible for the milk productivity have grossly failed in this area. Even worse to note that instead, such institutions have wasted their time and energy in petty quarrels, idled the funds in bank account to earn interest while the farmers who really need the same are left to face lenders of the last resort. They probably forgot somewhere in the journey that their role was to ensure most effective use of funds to raise milk productivity across the nation.

Modern technologies in the area of Genetic engineering have been successfully applied in countries such as USA, New Zealand, Brazil, Europe and even in Israel and China, while India has failed to deploy them at scales where its effect can be felt. We have lost most valuable time since 2000 till date, wandering in dark and failing to master the technologies for dairy cattle genetic up-gradation. This lost time will cost us dearly, especially if our neighbors decide on making the milk statistics count.

Earlier technologies such as progeny testing were taking decades whereas new genetic engineering can achieve results in much less time and cost. While the national dairy institutions make declarations from time to time, that the country has such a capacity, when it comes to its actual application in the field and the net benefit to a farmer, the results are dismal. Israel, Brazil and even China achieved tech. successes that our national dairy development institutions could not. Who is accountable for such strategic blunders and the exorbitant cost paid? In my humble opinion it is high time that a specific mission be created to spearhead deployment of genetic engineering to supply pre-sexed, high pedigree frozen embryos and semen of proven bulls by importing from countries like Brazil, which is suitable for our indegeneous breeds like the Gir, Kankraj, Ongol, Murrah etc.

Secondly we need to realize that as a nation while our per capita milk consumption is almost at par with the rest of the world, our nation is still suffering malnutrition on a large scale. Health of our women and children is poor especially among the rural and urban poor. We are short on high quality protein intake, but in the name of liberalization we export millions of tonnes of soya, cotton-seed, rap-seed, mustard-seed, all of which contain 30% to 40% of crude protein. Imagine if this was fed to our cows, buffalos or used in poultry this crude protein would have been converted in to highly digestible protein which children of this country needs most. Converting and feeding such meal to our cattle would generate employment in villages, especially of women.

It is argued that export of protein brings in valuable exchange, but reality is that most of it is again spent on import of pulses! Exporting crude protein and importing pulse protein with the costs of transaction and currency – doesn’t make sense to me. Now, don’t count me as anti-globalization or liberalization, I only insist that these phenomena must not hurt the lowest economic-rung of the society and that someone needs to look beyond the urban India that is shining.

Another argument has been that lack of export would affect oilseed prices. But the fact is that the country imports massive volumes of edible oil at negligible import duty. That hurts farmers more especially when world markets are heading south (more often that not these days!).

My point is that we should first make enough fodder available locally at an affordable rate. Earlier until the 90’s governments had imposed a levy of 20% on export of protein-meal. This kept the exports in check and ensured meals are available for domestic consumption for dairy and poultry industry at at least 20% cheaper then world market! This not only enabled the country to enhance milk and egg production, but also created employment and keep these local businesses more competitive. But since the 90’s our governments have failed to take right steps to boost availability of fodder, protein meal and now when milk prices go up, the governments resorts to banning exports of milk powders, casein and even go to the extent of importing milk powder.

Import of milk powder and banning of milk products is a knee-jerk reaction when the babus in New Delhi get a kick in their gut, exposing their in capability of having taken any long term consistent policy measures.

For more than a hundred years the Indian dairy industry suffered cattle genocide and only with advent of amul in 1946 did the the wheel start to turn back and in the right direction. If well managed, the next two decades will be golden eras of milk production and productivity gains. Country’s economy is going to boom for the next few decades powered by a young population and hence the market for milk and value added milk products is going to grow hand-in-hand predictably at an unprecedented pace.

Indian food habits vary from region to region in the country. Rice is predominant in east and south while wheat is staple in north and west. But having said that, milk is the most common food all across. Milk has 99% penetration and is considered a wholesome food by every Indian.

The challenge therefore is to make it affordable and available.

Affordability is clearly a result of equaling the supply to the demand. But make no mistake, supply needs to sustainable and local – as an outstripping demand will place huge pressure on milk supplies especially if the supply increments are managed by importing from outside. That would be an unsustainable solution. In order to make milk affordable we urgently need to take measures in the right direction of sustainable increase by leveraging genetic technologies on larger scales – something that the national institutes mantled with the responsibility have failed to do so since 1995.

If we want India to be strong and healthy, tall and smart and every Indian to live 100 year, we need more milk at affordable prices. Not the right-for-food or other such schemes!

Hope you all have a great day and that you find inspiration in every day life.

– B M Vyas

Brand Of the Indus Civilization


Brand Of the Indus Civilization

At the outset, let me ask a few questions. Amul as a name:

  • What does Amul mean to a milk producer? Hope?
  • What does it mean to a rural household? Salvation from poverty?
  • What does it means to an academician? A success story?
  • A successful concept?What does it means to an Indian citizen?
  • An Indian brand build by Indian for Indians and of Indians?
  • Is it the soul of Indian agriculture? Or soul of the white revolution in India?
  • Is it a source of inspiration for the poor and oppressed, that they too can create an Amul?What does it means for our leaders & bureaucrats?
  • A heart-warming result of someone’s lifetime of work? Is it nation’s greatest success story under pinning our democracy?
  • A school of democracy itself? Or a source of poverty eradication?

Amul is in essence – all of the above. You can only experience it and it is difficult to describe in words the effect of Amul and its ripples beyond the consumer world. It is not a brand. It has become a civilization of brands. It was not a brand building operation. It is a nation building exercise spanning seven decades and still on.

One of the small dimensions of Amul is advertising. A small dimension in reality, but vital.

Let me narrate my tryst with brand Amul
Dr. Kurien had a very beautiful way of addressing pressing issues. He would generally call a meeting of related teams from more than one organization under the umbrella, and sometimes, even invite academicians or outsiders to participate in the discussion of a pressing issue.

He would invariably have had his brief on the issue, which he would have gone through and may or may not be in full agreement with.

He would either open or let other concerned person open the discussion. As the discussion proceeds in one direction towards conclusion, he would adopt a counter position to test the conclusion. What are the repercussions? Are there other options? What will be the outcomes if we go down the other path? He would expect mid level young officers who are actually handling the subject be called into the meeting and encourage them to participate and present their views freely, even if he is disagreement with other seniors including himself. He would say, why not “doers” be asked and encouraged to participate to reach robust solutions?

I was lucky to have participated in many such meeting as young manager and observed him conduct his meetings deftly, shifting his position time & again, and receive alternate solutions – sometime diagonally opposite. What I liked most was his repeated insistence for “doers” to be present and be allowed to share their views.

Among others, Amul is perhaps the strongest brand India has built from scratch, post independence. As a 69 year old organization, it is loved ever more and each one of us are proud of it. It is the soul of white revolution of India and a source of great inspiration for every Indian businessman facing competition from multinational corporations.

Unlike many others Amul is the brand build by the poorest of this country and that very brand has protected them from exploitation and ensured fair returns. For an Indian family, Amul stands for best quality product at lowest possible price, a brand with which you begin your life and stays with you to keep you healthy, strong and joyful through different stages of life.

A question is often asked as to, how was Amul built so strong?

Answer is very simple. Practice highest core values firmly and consistently.

Best Quality. Total Quality. Quality in everything we do. Fair pricing. Being highly innovative. Stay open and transparent. Stay professional than most private and public sector outfits. Keep national interests above everything. Follow simple decision-making process. Ensure farmer’s interest is protected. Ensure Customer interest is held higher, as only then can one protect farmer’s interest. Be open to learning, experimentation, failures & improvements.

Focus on growth but with patience – solidly, firmly, and don’t be scared of failing!

With such a foundation, create and market best quality products at lowest possible prices in all segments.

Invariably advertise brand Amul for education of consumers, to keep them informed, impart knowledge of nutrition and quality, help them in usage and application of diversified products, share research knowledge and above all entertain them – realize what Amul is doing is not business but its a business of Nation Building.

Mission of Amul is that every Indian should live 100 years, healthy and strong. Therefore Amul does not spend billions on advertising but whatever we spend we spend consistently.

Brand Amul is a Sanskrit word meaning invaluable! Priceless!

Its style is unique and color red as we practice socialist philosophy. “Taste of India” slogan, which was added in 1991, is in green as we are basically an agribusiness. Together “Amul – The Taste of India” stands for taste of freedom, Taste of new, emerging, value driven civilization!

When Amul launched butter it used to advertise ‘Amul butter’ as pasteurized “makkhan”! Transport vans were painted, showing packet of Amul butter and statement ‘Pasteurized Makkhan’! Later a positioning statement ‘utterly butterly delicious’ was added and continues even today, after over 50 years. However it was a brilliant idea of Sylvester da Cunha who conceived the idea of deploying little polka-dot Amul butter girl on every packet and every communication. This was in late sixties.

He recommended that instead of advertising product butter in mundane ways – year after year, why not put a slogan once a week as though amul-butter girl is taking a position on important developments in the society – be it political, sports, cinema or any issues of consumers interest. Dr. Kurien gave absolute freedom for the campaign to choose the topic, subject, style, narration, in every respect. Not only would he not interfere, but made sure that no one else interfered in the campaign.

At Amul, we share data, knowledge, insights on consumer behavior, insights on competition, one is permitted to provide observations on the likes or dislikes in an ad, but one has to always respect the creative and its agency. They are given all the freedom to create and they are free to consider or reject these observations without any inhibition.

The result of this culture built by Dr. Kurien and firmly imbibed in all of us, is to respect the creativity and give them due freedom where they are the best.

The Amul Butter girl billboard campaign started in 1969 and has continued ever since. Initially it was limited to a few metros with only a few billboards. However as our distribution network expanded, the billboard numbers increased to about 100-125. To further improve the campaign reach it was extended to some of the leading newspapers. It very much was one of the first social media experiments that went viral!

With the advent of Internet, Amul butter topicals were hosted on the website and was completely in sync with the offline billboards so that customers near & far could access the much loved billboards from the comfort of their homes.

With this, it ensured digital distribution of this billboard campaign as early as 1995, when the rest of the world was waking up to the reality of internet.

Sometime in 1994, I met a young person who had just returned from US and had some very astute ideas about the influence of Internet. He prposed to develop a website for Amul when very few had even heard about Internet. But given our success and ambition, I felt it was the right choice. It took about a small fortune then to get it started, but I gave the go-ahead.

On 4th day he arrived into my office and said “ Mr. Vyas, your Amul website is up!”. I switched on my desktop and waited a fair few minutes for it to load. When the site came up, it was a good first attempt. Over the next few days it was refined further and Amul had presence on the Internet. And then, something happened which changed our outlook towards this new channel of reaching out to customers and vice-a-versa.

A few days later, one of my managers came to me with a printout of an email. We had received an enquiry from Switzerland, asking for a quote to supply 1100 metric tons of infant milk food. It wouldn’t surprise you when I say that we not only won that order but went beyond and supplied on a few large repeat orders.

Our decision to go online had paid for itself in no time.

The same person who made our website visited us again. Apart from the actual discussion around improving the site further, he mentioned that his attempts to create websites and online presence for other companies had not met with equal success. Another large foods company had placed an order with him, but only after going through a tedious procurement process. He could not resist asking me “ So Mr. Vyas, why did you place the order verbally without asking for written offer? Moreover you also paid immediately against my invoice? What made you decided so quickly?”

In my reply I told him that Sardar Patel had only once told Tribhovandas Patel, ‘Polson ne kadi muko’, which led to creation of Amul a Billion Dollar Food giant ( All it meant was – ‘Remove the middleman!’. How could I let go of an opportunity to do that once again. In my view, the Internet removed the ‘middleman’ and hence I was only doing what Sardar Patel had said in 1946! So why bother with the permission or a second thought!

Online presence leveraged Amul Girl and took our billboard to a global digital world. Emboldened by it, we also later started where we stored all our digital production for consumer education and academic usage.

While most of us know Amul as a food company, the mandate is far bigger than just that. It is imperative that we don’t forget the roots of this company as we enter a new fast changing world. To that extent Amul has produced several movies and published books. We have produced a movie called “Manthan – The Churning” in 1974, directed by the legendary Shyam Benegal with a star cast of great Girish Karnad, Naseerudin Shah, Smita Patil. This movie was meant to be a reminder about the struggle and an icon of farmer’s leadership. A small 60-second clip from the movie, later converted into a TV commercial has become the essence of Amul, as known by millions of Indians. The movie was subtitled in more than 100 languages and is hosted on even today.

“The Amul India Story”, is also documented and published as a story of White Revolution. Later Dr. Kurien also published his biography ‘I too had a dream’, which is also almost a story of the white revolution but a captivating narration as seen through his eyes!

Amul had published a baby book in 13 languages when amul baby food was launched in 1960s. The book educates parents how the child is concieved, delivered, grows up, its needs, pre and post-natal etc. Amul had even produced a full recipe book to educate cheese consumer what is possible with Amul Cheese.

Since 1994 Amul had developed and launched several new products such as whole range ice creams, Aseptic milk, Cream, Condensed Milk, Amul kool beverages and many more products were in pipeline. At the same time electronic media was proliferating rapidly and hundreds of TV channels, Magazines, Press, Radio and internet based media were all imminent.

Dr Kurien wanted to unify advertising effort under brand Amul and had been requesting our ad agencies to come up with unified approach! After years of debate Mr Kanon Krishnan of ASP, came up with a proposal and presented a campaign. He convinced us instantly to position Amul as Amul – The Taste Of India. The statement states Amul is a food brand and also is proudly swadeshi! Its red background signify our socialist philosophy and Green for Agriculture.

Similarly in 1997 we created a corporate ad using title song of Manthan ‘Maro Gao Kathawadi’ with appropriate modifications and deployed through electronic medium to connect with the consumer on social dimensions of our brand, which goes way beyond business. Today Amul has a great following on social media and huge number of young and old enjoy Amul bill board campaign and debate on them day in day out!

Amul has always believed in using communication medium in a creative and consistent manner to stay in the heart and soul of consumers. Its billboard campaign runs since over 50 years now and it has promoted much loved TV programs such as Amul Surabhi for almost a decade!

To strengthen our connection with the youth it has promoted programs like Star voice of India year after year for almost a decade now. The brand is now accessible to customers through over 6000 Amul shops, 75000 Amul ice cream outlets, 600 plus Amul sundae parlors etc.

In addition to the above, Amul sponsors and encourages education by offering vidyashree awards for top performers in about 20,000 schools across the country.

The purpose – to build new, prosperous and healthy India. Hope you all have a great day and that you find inspiration in every day life.

– B M Vyas

Honorary Editor


Mr. BM Vyas took-over as Managing Director of AMUL Co-Op. during expansion and opening up of the Indian economy & globalization in the 90s. In order to take on the competition, he championed Total Quality Management across the dairy value chain in Gujarat. Within a span of 16 years at helm of AMUL, he increased sales of AMUL to eight-folds (from Rs. 9.8 billion to Rs. 80 billion). He steered AMUL to be Asia’s largest fresh Milk processor or No. 1 Dairy Brand in India as well as in Asia Pacific, as per Media Magazine Survey, 2009. Under his leadership; AMUL launched innovative and special Dietary products like Probiotic & Sugar Free Ice Cream, Probiotic buttermilk for the first time in India.

The Decade and Half of Missed Opportunities


The Decade and Half of Missed Opportunities [1997-2012]

Dr. Kurien conceived Operation flood and implemented it in 3 phases viz Operation Flood 1, 2 and 3 from 1970 to 1995. The total outlay on Operation Flood 1,2 and 3 all put together was limited and spent over 25 years. National Dairy Development Board was established to further the mission of operation flood.

During this period; with limited spend, he organized millions of milk producers living in remote rural areas, into 100,000 village cooperative societies. Each society would have one elected chairman and 9 management committee members and a secretary of the society (equivalent to the CEO) to manage milk collection, grading using electronic testing, making payments, record keeping, calling board meetings every month, and submitting an audited annual report to the members of their society in their local language.

In this process, he built about 200 dairy plants for processing milk received from 100,000 villages and marketed it in cities. He also built nearly 70 cattle feed plants to provide balanced cattle-feed to members at no loss no profit basis to ensure increased milk productivity. Above all he put all these structures and organizations in the hands of farmers, to let them manage, make mistakes, learn and develop.

As a result of this mammoth effort India’s milk production increased from mere 20 million metric tons (mmt) to 95 mmt between 1970 and 1995!

I would like readers to note that Operation flood outlay was minuscule and was spent on 100,000 villages of India over 25 years.

The increase in milk production was 5 fold and value of such value addition at today’s price comes to nearly Rs. 200,000 crore per year! I also want readers to note that many at NDDB and outside have given impression that cooperatives outside Gujarat and Karnataka have failed.

But the fact is different. Dr. Kurien built over 100,000 village coops in 25 years when there was no mobile or Internet or high speed communication. All these village cooperative societies have survived. And have been in profit for several decades.

It is only district milk unions where farmer’s supervision and control weakens that some losses have been incurred. This is mainly due to the fact that most state cooperative federation CEOs have been government nominated IAS and in their effort to keep milk prices within reach of urban poor & middle class, small losses have been continually incurred. However such accumulated losses is still outweighed by the volume of business of Rs. 200,000 Crores transacted in last 2 decades.

Such small “losses” were incurred on good cause largely. If a child in a city or village received a glass of milk and in the process if an insignificant loss was incurred by a milk union – why criticize the dairy cooperative movement?

In reality cooperatives have delivered in big measure! Dr. Kurien’s model is aptly suitable for this country, let there be no doubt. Let nation commit to implement it with greater vigor, resources, leadership and allow legal framework & freedom for cooperatives to improve.

The private sector can play its own role, which I see more in processing, adding value to milk and let their be competition among all to produce value added products to meet growing and changing diverse needs.

Ever since Dr. Kurien left NDDB most of the momentum for dairy development was lost. This is evident from the facts (real value addition).

  • Number of new village dairy cooperatives organized in areas outside Gujarat in last 15 years is negligible. Capacity expansion in dairy cooperatives has slowed down significantly.
  • Funds released to genuine dairy cooperatives except Gujarat and Karnataka was anyways insignificant. Lot of funding was diverted to Mother Dairy Pvt Ltd. directly or indirectly, which is described as ‘cooperative’ when suited and an independent company when suited so.
  • Most of the policy decisions such as duty free imports or banning of exports were influenced by precarious failure of Mother Dairy Foods Limited in securing stocks at the price the ‘company’ wanted! These were often counter-productive and have worked against the interests of producers and even consumers in long run.
  • Since 1995 adulteration of milk has increased particularly in North India where mother dairy dominates the market and leads procurement, whereas adulteration is not so rampant in southern states like Karnataka, Andhra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu etc.
  • Artificial competition between ‘new generation’ collection centers of mother dairy, versus those of dairy cooperative milk unions and also of private dairies, has resulted into massive adulteration.
  • Since 1995 the world has deployed break through technological application like sexed semen in Brazil, China, Israel, US, EU and Oceania. So Why has India lagged behind and does not have even a single semen station? None owned and managed by NDDB nor have they developed or even secured this technology. Why our performance is so dismal? Same is the condition on feed-fodder export policy and productivity.

So the question is – Who is responsible for turning a well running program into such a mess? Who is accountable?

Reality is that, over one and half decade has been lost in quarrels, quibbles, failed experiments and destroying what Dr. Kurien had started?

Our Parliament, our agriculture ministry has hardly any time or competency in these areas and largely depend upon NDDB to drive decision making. Hence, there is hardly any objective evaluation of NDDB’s performance carried out by a third party such as CAG etc. When milk production goes up largely due to efforts of cooperative societies, NDDB is quick to claim credit and if there is slight shortfall, the same NDDB starts criticizing dairy cooperatives. This very organization, which was meant to further the cooperative movement and operation flood, has unfortunately ambled aimlessly over the last decade. There are no targets taken to boost breed productivity. No targets to enhance artificial insemination with newer technologies, or expand its coverage. The dairy development board is run in an open ended manner without any systematic measure of performance.

Most of the academic researches in related areas are being carried out at our National institutions like NDRI etc. without dovetailing them into applications in the field. We lack in application of the state art technologies such as sexed semen manufacture and supply/use of genetic engineering for productivity enhancement of our indigenous breeds of cows and buffalos. All national academic and development institutions and industry work in isolation and unified strategic intent is missing.

One reason that I can think of, is that the dairy development board is missing the leadership quality of Dr. Kurien, ever since he left the scene at NDDB in 1997! As a country we have lost a decade and half with rudderless leadership.

Time to act is now!


Honorary Editor


Mr. BM Vyas took-over as Managing Director of AMUL Co-Op. during expansion and opening up of the Indian economy & globalization in the 90s. In order to take on the competition, he championed Total Quality Management across the dairy value chain in Gujarat. Within a span of 16 years at helm of AMUL, he increased sales of AMUL to eight-folds (from Rs. 9.8 billion to Rs. 80 billion). He steered AMUL to be Asia’s largest fresh Milk processor or No. 1 Dairy Brand in India as well as in Asia Pacific, as per Media Magazine Survey, 2009. Under his leadership; AMUL launched innovative and special Dietary products like Probiotic & Sugar Free Ice Cream, Probiotic buttermilk for the first time in India.

Lessons in Incident & Disaster Management


Lessons in Incident & Disaster Management

On the 15th August 2001, I inaugurated the very first Amul Parlor in an AUDA run Garden in Ahmedabad and returned to Anand that afternoon. Next day, when I returned from my regular 50 minute morning walk, I picked up the news paper and just then the phone rang. The general manager of one of the key dairy plants; Mother Dairy Gandhinagar, Mr S K Bansal was on the other side of the line. He told me in a hurried voice that a worker had attempted self-immolation at the main gate of mother dairy.

First, a brief history though. In 1980’s milk procurement in the state of Gujarat was soaring high, year after year. As more farmers were joining the movement, more number of village dairy cooperatives were organizing & forming new district milk unions where previously none existed. More district coop unions were receiving milk much more then their own capacities and were too small to have their own powder drying plants individually. In 1986, despite best efforts, milk holidays were required to be declared in many areas, shaking faith of the farmers in these organizations and its leadership.

At the same time Ahmadabad Dairy known as Abad Dairy at that time owned by Gujarat Dairy Development Corporation (GDDC), was making losses and so also GDDC being government owned was under influence of state government and were not free enough to pass increased costs of milk to urban consumers.

The board of directors at GCMMF, could see opportunity or rather compulsion to enter Ahmedabad Milk market. Since the local district milk union’s own procurement was just about 1 lac liters per day (llpd) while the market was much bigger. GCMMF decided to invest in a state of art, the most modern automated dairy plant of the time, at Ahmadabad-Gandhinagar Twin city at the cost of Rs. 100 Crores. Thing to note is that this decision was made when GCMMF’s own turnover was just about Rs. 200 Crores!

This plant was commissioned in 1994 and named as Mother Dairy Gandhinagar. It subsequently in included a modern spray-drying tower and a anhydrous fat line so that all surplus milk from small and large unions, could be accepted in flush season and cost of such a plant would obviously get shared on entire milk marketed like an insurance cover!

Our own strategy was to launch milk in Ahmadabad way before the plant got commissioned. This market-seeding program allowed us to reach break-even point as soon as plant was commissioned.

When I visited dairy plant in 1994, I observed a peculiar difference. In all our other dairy unions, the dairy-workers were coming from villages and understood our core philosophy far better and hence possessed an emotional bond where as here in Ahmadabad most workers had an urban background and many had lost jobs in closed textile mills of Ahmadabad and joined here. Hence they were more ‘unionized’ than our district dairies.

I realized back then, that sooner or later there would be some kind of industrial unrest. I did not have any particular solutions in mind. I had seen my fair share of industrial unrest such as worker’s union getting formed in Amul dairy, demanding higher wages and compensation. I had seen them doing demonstrations to put pressure and 16 days of ‘illegal’ strike without notice in peak season forcing the milk producers to retailiate, take over dairies themselves, send their household members, about 800 or so to stay and work as labour under guidance of officers. Such radical moves did compel labour unions to see reason and come to settlement.

The strike at Amul was settled, throwing away outside union leaders and their interference. Since then both sides had realized mutual limitations and the need to respect each other. It took years to get that morale and tempo among the workers and staff & officers.

With this in mind, I decided to carry out a disaster management drill of 3-4 days, simulating a strike in Mother Dairy. Sometime in year 2000, I told the young leadership team to carry out this exercise and store their learning in a form of disaster management plan in the event of labour strike. The team arranged some 50 students from Dairy science college and deployed them to run essential product lines in the dairy with the help of key staff members, arranged for their stay and also for stay of ‘labour’ brought from outside in make shift tents. Over and above there were arrangements made food, medicine, temporary toilets, access to television and telecommunications etc. to simulate a lock down.

This dry run of disaster management plan proved really useful.

In 2001, when ‘Chatur’ the contract worker attempted self-immolation outside the dairy plan, the entire labour force went on an instant hysterical strike. There were nasty allegations, and we could not rule out any external influence. The first priority was to ensure medical aid to the person and second to prevent any escalation of violence at the plant. I instructed our top management to co-operate with police and let them investigate to bring out truth.

Thirdly, we quickly rolled out the disaster management plan and made alternative arrangement for supply of milk to and from other dairies so that the end consumers were not impacted. We also approached Gujarat High Court, which declared the strike illegal and through prolonged negotiation and perseverance convinced all section of workers to withdraw strike. Along with few board members of GCMMF, I met with the representatives, heard them and also explained our operating philosophy. I believe we found common ground; no milk to consumers meant no wages for the workers either. It was a lose-lose situation. They understood the same and gave us their support in making situation as normal as possible. Government of Gujarat also helped in sorting out the matter with political representatives involved in a transparent manner.

All the workers then signed a settlement where in they assured not to resort to such illegal strikes in future.

We could have taken disciplinary action easily and terminated a few troublemakers but I had seen how such an action made the remaining work force scarred, disconnected and afraid.
Instead, I thought ‘it is better they themselves realize their mistake, repent and develop higher level of commitment and belonging’.

I brought their parents, family, and children to see dairy plant and know for whom their kins are working.

I had full confidence in our team and I myself did not visit the plant even once during the strike, except to meet with the representatives. I had set the operating guidelines and rigor in our process and the team executed it to plan.

More importantly it is key to learn the truth as otherwise all our efforts to bring change would go waste. Curious to learn the real drivers for the strike, I had a private agency appointed to investigate real reason for self-immolation attempt. The agency monitored worker behavior, any political speeches or interference being made by any disgruntled leaders. They also observed the worker behavior in near-by villages, stayed there and did a thorough investigation. An investigation report was provided which we also shared with the relevant authorities.

Within 16 days the strike was withdrawn, situation became normal. Through out strike period, the dairy plant was run and milk was handled daily. After signing the agreement all workers joined duties, not one worker was terminated nor was any one was given a warning memo. There were incidents where in some workers who had earlier blamed the General Manager and had gone ahead to file wrong affidavits, came to us and literally cried, realizing that they supported the wrong elements.

Workers union was wound up once and for all.

Today we are in 2012. Twelve years have passed by and mother dairy workers and management have learned lessons of mutual dependence, limitations, to work with dedication and commitment. GCMMF has also compensated them in reasonable measure. Many facilities available to the workers and the truck drivers who drive the milk tankers which supply and collect milk – were all upgraded. Never before had a truck driver stayed in an Air Conditioned waiting & lodging area, and a 24 hour canteen for drivers & workers alike, which provided meals at very cheap rates and especially Milk!

In summary, workers in a dairy plant are also labor, like the milk producers in villages. Both must appreciate each others role and responsibility.

Lifting 40-liter milk cans for 8 hours or stacking butter in 4C cold storage is as difficult as milking and mending a herd of cows or buffalos. We hence need to be sensitive to both. My experience of handling two labor strikes and improving in the manner we tackled the second one, drawing learning’s from them – changed my mindset. It gave me much more confidence in dealing with both organized and unorganized labour with far more empathy.

Honorary Editor


Mr. BM Vyas took-over as Managing Director of AMUL Co-Op. during expansion and opening up of the Indian economy & globalization in the 90s. In order to take on the competition, he championed Total Quality Management across the dairy value chain in Gujarat. Within a span of 16 years at helm of AMUL, he increased sales of AMUL to eight-folds (from Rs. 9.8 billion to Rs. 80 billion). He steered AMUL to be Asia’s largest fresh Milk processor or No. 1 Dairy Brand in India as well as in Asia Pacific, as per Media Magazine Survey, 2009. Under his leadership; AMUL launched innovative and special Dietary products like Probiotic & Sugar Free Ice Cream, Probiotic buttermilk for the first time in India.

A Guru in Life-Dr. Kurien


 A Guru in Life – Dr. Kurien

I met my guru Dr. Kurien in 1969 at an annual-day function for my engineering college, where he was the chief guest. He was wearing his trademark cream colored suit and next to him was his wife Mrs Molly Kurien. He was well built, handsome and delivered his speech humorously & confidently. There was not a single soul in the function who wouldn’t have enjoyed his speech.

Later, after about a year, I happened to visit Amul Dairy and was impressed with beautiful layout, neat, clean house keeping, big fountains and green lawns. It was almost surreal in those days when rest of the town was quite a dust bowl.

I joined Amul at the age of 20 in 1971, and retired as the Managing Director of GCMMF (Amul) at 60. During this time, I had the opportunity to work with him closely as General Manager first and later as managing Director when he was the chairman at GCMMF.

The fact remains that every moment I spent with him were of great learning.

One of the most important thing I learnt from him is the power of humor! He was able to use his wit & humour most effectively. Be it in speeches or in meetings with dignitaries. You may remember that Dr Kurien’s biography was being unveiled at Rashtrapati Bhavan by the then president Dr Kalaam. Dr Kurien was 86 then, and someone said “Dr Kurien at 86 you’re very handsome compared to BM!” (People mostly referred to me as BM). He replied instantly “yes, except for the height!”. While many would have missed the point, I was taller than him but only physically!

He was also one of the greatest story teller. He would narrate his stories to visitors for hours, make them laugh, yet have them appreciate the achievements, and leave behind deep sense of warmth in visitor’s mind and heart. It was impossible not to become his friend once you spend more then 30 min with him. He was bound to win you over hands down! He would narrate how he was required to come and work in remote town called Anand, due to his bond that he had signed. And how no one would give him a house to rent, as he was unmarried, young, used to eat meat & consumed alcohol. He would tell me, he used to sleep on coat under a tree and everyday a dog would run away with his slippers, which was the first thing he would look for as soon as he would get up. How he made his own bathroom with 3 corrugated sheets and cut out a ventilation window himself!

How he then converted a garage, into his quarter and there he met his guru Tribhovandas Patel, who changed his destiny.

He was tickler of time. In my entire carrier I never saw him reaching a second late to any of his appointments. And he would expect his counterparts to practice the same. If the person he was supposed to meet was not there at the appointed time he would wait for a minute or two, and simply walk back & leave the venue, irrespective of who he was to meet! This also made us time conscious and extremely particular practicing timeliness. He always wanted each and everything in place, neat and clean, working, functioning smoothly. He wanted excellence in everything that came in his purview.

Be it a communication, hosting a lunch or be it ensuring that all toilets in buildings or sound systems, even a noisy fan or flickering tube light was fixed. If he happened to encounter any of this he would immediately stop and convey his unhappiness. He will insist and ensure it is restored and system refined to ensure it did not happen again. If he finds that the other person maintains such high standards, he would publicly acknowledge the same.

One thing he would never compromise irrespective of your education, qualification or performance was integrity. He would say integrity is like virginity! Once gone, always gone. He had zero tolerance to lack of integrity. This made our life very easy. He would simply dismiss such person in minutes, irrespective of his background. He was the most fearless person I have met and would stick to his point of view especially when related to core values and the mission. He would never buckle under pressure. In every crisis, he will think deeply, debate, discuss various implications and develop strategies to convert the crisis into an opportunity. He would say ‘there is always something good in everything that comes your way, in all crisis or problems, find out what is good and work on it’!

The other important trait was consistency. His stand on core issues and practices would not change. If he took a stand and if you referred same issue a month later or even a year later, he will respond in split second and his decision would not have swayed. Now this does not mean he was rigid – he was just extremely objective in his decision making. His decision making was directly founded on his core values & mission, and as long as actions lead to serve this purpose, he would arrive at decisions in minutes. He would never demand report after report. He would instead, expect a crystal clear thought and its relevance to our mission. Consistency of thought and action were his greatest traits. In fact, I used to deliberately raise the same issue at different time & place, just to check his response. The moment I would complete my sentence, he would say ‘you’ve told me this before’. This used to surprise me, as I would have underplayed the issue deliberately when mentioned for the first time. But he would listen so intently and with cent per cent attention, that even the smallest matter raised will be registered by him.

Let me narrate you an instance. I was traveling with to Gandhinagar from Anand with him, a drive of about 2 hours by road. I was very young when I lost my father, and then due to familial circumstances, I traveled and gained education living away from my family. My mother & my uncle endured a lot of hardships over a period of about 12 years, when I had to live away to go to school & then college. But in a long time, I had never realized how it would be to spend time with someone you look up to, almost like your father. Such travels with Dr. Kurien were rare, and for me it was like going out with my father. These were the most important time for me to speak to him and learn. We would discuss about the most important institution he built over time, among several he created. He invariably answered “Amul”. I replied “I think it is not Amul, but it is Irma”. He asked me “why do you think so?” and I said “IRMA would produce a new school of management which is more just, fair, value based, and accountable to society – not to the stock exchange. IRMA is ahead of its time. People noticed AMUL in 1964, after about two decades of its success! Give IRMA about 50 years and the world will see what you have done”. I continued, “In building IRMA you are catapulting the country ahead of this world by century or more. People will realize what you have done much after you and even I are gone.”

The real fruit of Kurien’s work will be understood after another 50 to 100 years. It has inspired a generation and given their next generation – the opportunities, ideals, morals and values which build a society.

I am of the firm belief that after Mahatma Gandhi if there was next great person who worked for Rural India and with stupendous success – it was Verghese Kurien. His contribution is much bigger than a developing a missile, performing in a theater or playing sitar or shehnai. Great people are like Sarabhai – they build India and build the institutions that take India to the next level.

For our politicians, bureaucrats and even masses – appreciating sitar, shehnai or stage play is perhaps easier than seeing reason & rationale of the work done by Kurien, whose real impact will be felt several decades later. Bharat-Ratna, is too small for Dr. Kurien and our CMs, PMs or other politicians – them put together, are too small to understand what Kurien has built and what he sacrificed for it.

Dr. Kurien was my guru in life, whom I saw in the same light as my father. I would pray to god that he makes Dr Kurien, my guru in the next hundred lives.

Honorary Editor


Mr. BM Vyas took-over as Managing Director of AMUL Co-Op. during expansion and opening up of the Indian economy & globalization in the 90s. In order to take on the competition, he championed Total Quality Management across the dairy value chain in Gujarat. Within a span of 16 years at helm of AMUL, he increased sales of AMUL to eight-folds (from Rs. 9.8 billion to Rs. 80 billion). He steered AMUL to be Asia’s largest fresh Milk processor or No. 1 Dairy Brand in India as well as in Asia Pacific, as per Media Magazine Survey, 2009. Under his leadership; AMUL launched innovative and special Dietary products like Probiotic & Sugar Free Ice Cream, Probiotic buttermilk for the first time in India.

The story of yogurt


The story of yogurt

When I was a child, we lived in a remote village in saurashtra, and we kept a cow in the house. I had seen my mother pour some milk in a vessel day after day and allow it to ferment. Once a week my grandmother or my mother would churn it for about an hour or two.

Sometime she will make me help her pull the rope left and right to churn. She would stop every few minutes and inspect the milk, skim out the cream that would have got separated from the milk. Later she would pour some water into the vessel and continue churning till most of the cream had been separated and taken out. She would later boil this separated cream and make ghee from it and the remaining mixture in the vessel became buttermilk, which we would use as a drink, with our meals. In that day and age, we gave buttermilk to our neighbors for free and equally, receive it from them when they had some extra. I had also seen that many in my family used buttermilk to wash their hair like we would use shampoo today!

Because we had one cow and seven siblings, rarely would any milk be left to make yogurt or curd.

But when I moved to the city for my higher education, I found that people used to eat curd with rice, as raita or as desert with sugar and sometime with snacks. I also saw them eating new things like “Dahi wada, Dahi Bhalla” as afternoon or late evening snack. It was very common to add some culture in the surplus milk left at the end of the day and convert it into Dahi, as most housewives knew how to make curd at home! Fresh curd was always considered healthy and protective especially if one intended to travel or eat out. Women in the household would customarily exchange culture from curd, with neighbors to maintain its potency and efficacy.

Whenever we used to have marketing review meetings at GCMMF (AMUL) in 80s and early 90s, I would often hear people say that in India every housewife knows how to make curd hence their is no need to market curd.

I wasn’t convinced though and I conducted market research in 1992. More than 30% housewives surveyed, recommended that Amul should launch packaged curd. While I did expect to see a positive response from the market, I was surprised with the extent and potential. Later, during my visits to Europe in France and Germany I saw several dairies marketing huge variety of set and stirred yogurts.

Once while having breakfast with the Managing Director of Sabar dairy, he praised the quality of curd served at the dairy guesthouse. That struck a cord and it reminded me of research findings and I prompted him to start manufacturing of Curd at the dairy.

We were already making Srikhand, which is a sweetened probiotic curd since the 1980s but we had skipped plain curd! So in 1997 we launched the commonly known brand called – “Masti Dahi” in Ahmedabad as a pilot. From my other blogs you may have read that by this time, we had decided to launch milk in Delhi market and we were already marketing milk in Mumbai. To support this strategy, we therefore had decided to decentralize packaging and marketing of fresh milk and products such as curd, ice creams, buttermilk and lassi. Hence launch of Masti Dahi was though small but significant part of a grand design.

I was also aware that AMUL alone cannot and will not be able to cater to the demand across the nation, and so I knew that all 200 dairy cooperative plants will have to work in harmony, pack and market curd pan-India. That would be the most cost effective and sustainable proposition to allow us to maximize the volume. Hence we allowed all dairy cooperatives to replicate our installation, recipe and technology.

Indian market being so different than European market, we decided to launch, curd in pouches, similar to milk-pouches, thereby further optimizing the manufacturing and supply chain, while leveraging the unique distribution systems of cooperatives, unlike most multi-nationals. Our fundamental strategy was to make people move from loose curd sold by the unorganized sector to packaged curd – while making it affordable, available and at superior quality. The motto of superior quality at lowest sustainable price, had always built markets for us.

Thus by the time our global competitors woke up, we had a nationwide market and almost all dairy cooperatives had launched Packaged Dahi (Curd) and buttermilk. Recently I read somewhere that all India organized curd market in the year 2010-11 was estimated to be around 900,000mt/year with more then 90% share with Local cooperative or Indian companies. Multinationals, hardly have less then 10% market share in this category.

By 2015, this market is projected to cross 1.5million tons pa – which is a significant growth rate in the category making it one to seriously contemplate competing for.

In India Dahi or curd is largely used for table use. We consume it in breakfast, lunch or dinner. Curd is traditionally consumed almost daily or at least few times a week. Out of home curd is served in almost all hotels and restaurant as meal accompaniment. Sweetened curd is consumed as desert or as Srikhand in homes.

Fresh curd is known to keep digestive systems in order and Indians do not need education on how healthy it is! What is needed, however; is to make it available in convenient packaging for on the go consumption or bigger bulk packs for institution segment or flavored, fruitier curd to enhance out of home use. All this while making it affordable so that be it in cup or pouch, people of all class can consume it.

While this is not new to industry, there is a lingering question about what is missing? Where is a gap in the market?

Buttermilk and lassi, are rich in proteins, calcium, minerals and micro nutrients. Their bio availability is extremely high in this form than when consumed as expensive capsules and tablets! These drinks are in reality quite “cool” and would make life healthier and hence truly more fun.

Packaged curd and flavored or fruity yogurt has a huge demand building up. In days ahead probiotic advantage of curd or yogurt, which is low calories, low fat, with naturally good bacteria will drive the health conscious new generation to go for it – creating head on competition for carbonated drinks or even sugared juices.

Tremendous value addition is in offing in this category, to make it not only huge table use health product, but also healthy, natural, tasty, out of home food and drink in very near future. ‘Amul Masti butter milk’ , ‘Amul lassi’, ‘Amul probiotic’ lassi and butter milk launches of 2002-2005 are stars on horizon

There is clearly a position that most companies haven’t looked into – that is making our communication and promotion of this product category more “cool”. Combined with the right product creativity, and promotion – these products can compete with the well-known soft drink brands. Question is – is there is someone in the market willing to look beyond the run-of-mill business, and explore and tap this potential? Innovation has no boundaries – you just need to look around!

(Hint: If you are keen to go a step outside the comfort zone, here is a hint: What has been one of the best product & delivery model innovation in the soft drink industry thus far?)

Honorary Editor


Mr. BM Vyas took-over as Managing Director of AMUL Co-Op. during expansion and opening up of the Indian economy & globalization in the 90s. In order to take on the competition, he championed Total Quality Management across the dairy value chain in Gujarat. Within a span of 16 years at helm of AMUL, he increased sales of AMUL to eight-folds (from Rs. 9.8 billion to Rs. 80 billion). He steered AMUL to be Asia’s largest fresh Milk processor or No. 1 Dairy Brand in India as well as in Asia Pacific, as per Media Magazine Survey, 2009. Under his leadership; AMUL launched innovative and special Dietary products like Probiotic & Sugar Free Ice Cream, Probiotic buttermilk for the first time in India.

Marketing Mozzarella Cheese to the Indian housewife


Marketing Mozzarella Cheese to the Indian housewife

I believe it was the Second World War that helped cola drinks become more popular in Europe and Asia. Colas supplied to American soldiers as part of their ration was bartered for alternative local supplies and that enabled local population to develop the taste for colas. Prolonged wars actually led to building up of residual new markets, which were then serviced and carefully nurtured by the cola companies.

In Europe, during the war for example, American soldiers were buying pizzas in exchange for colas and developed taste and liking for both pizzas and mozzarella cheese. When peace returned and they were back in the US, many soldiers set up their own pizza parlors and in a short time, pizza and cola combination became part of American way of life! Standardization, Specialization, Globalization and American free market entrepreneurial spirit, quickly turned pizza into global fast food! This in turn led to fast growth of demand for mozzarella cheese. Traditional mozzarella cheese used to be made from buffalo milk, in Italy and is characterized by its long stretch and delicious lactic aroma. But because in other western countries, cows were more prevalent, the genuine buffalo mozzarella cheese got replaced subtle with cow milk based ‘pizza’ cheese and later by even cheaper substitutes.

Amul pioneered Cheese in India in 1960 making Cheddar Cheese from buffalo milk and built the cheese market in India brick by brick. India used to consume tons of cottage cheese know as Paneer (Similar to Haloumi), but it has neutral flavor and taste which makes it ideal to absorb the flavor of spices it is cooked with.

Cheese, on the other hand, has distinct different flavor and taste, which to most Indian palates is relatively pungent. However, on few repeated trials or use one develops a taste for cheese. Gradually Cheese, which was a top end food, has penetrated Indian homes, to the extent that its penetration in urban India is close to 37%.

With fast globalizing Indian economy, younger demographics, higher incomes and faster life style, Out-of-Home food consumption was bound to increase. Mass media and exposure to western life style was certain to trigger growth in demand for Cheese, and Mozzarella and Cheddar in Particular.

We therefore decided to setup a dedicated Cheese Plant and also start manufacturing Mozzarella Cheese. Before we went full fledged on mozzarella production, we set up a pilot plant for launch in the market. Surprisingly, a few weeks later I read a comment in a popular business magazine that Amul had started marketing mozzarella cheese, but one does not know where to get it from! I wasn’t very happy reading such a comment and decided to rectify our approach.

Mozzarella cheese and pizzas were not something housewives were very familiar with and hence consumer demand was small and dispersed. For us to scale the product, the challenge was to convert this into a mass market.

At GCMMF, we had recently recruited a dairy technologist and I encouraged her to visit different pizza outlets, taste all possible varieties, read literature and develop a set of recipes for the Indian palette. We encouraged her to localize the recipe by changing some ingredients to give spicy Indian taste. We then got her all the equipment a good chef would need, including an outfit befitting to a top chef. The plan was to advertise in a Newspaper, inviting women folk in the household to enroll in Teach-and-Treat Program in a star hotel. The idea clicked. Within matter of days we have over 100 participants with whom we conducted the first program and the lady officer was thrilled! We immediately planned to scale up the program across several cities of Gujarat.

It wasn’t good enough educating the end customer about concepts of pizza cheese if our own sales and distribution folk did not have the right degree of appreciation for the product. So we decided to bring our sales staff and distributors into this change program. All these encouraged distributors to put in effort to build their retail network for cheese.

We pulled in many of our staff to leave aside their normal job and start conducting ‘teach and treat’ program for cheese! To support them, we focused on creating written manuals & training programs, to help them execute the program independently and effortlessly.

The response was surprisingly good. It was clear that our approach was working, and that our attempts to build a mass market we should include small vendors and shopkeepers. We decide to teach them how to add value in the last mile, and make pizzas from the cheese! So began the next phase of this massive change program, with the recruitment of about sixty “Pizza Consultants“. These were trained not just to execute the ‘teach & treat’ program for retailers, but also exposed to our culture and our shared vision. With only four days of induction, the Pizza Consultants were placed at several locations of importance, and tasked with conducting the ‘teach and treat’ classes. They were also asked to give us written feedback and to identify the best participant to in turn become ‘Pizza Consultants.’

In one and half years, we had conducted about 15,000 ‘teach and treat’ classes pan India, trained nearly a hundred thousand women folk and trained nearly 6,000 retailers to make pizza! Finally, to top it all we made a full 30-second TV commercial to go mass market with the actual Mozzarella cheese product.

Our strategy was to educate the customer and build a base, which could act as a catalyst in the market when we go full-fledged. Unlike many other MNCs, had we gone top down and advertised first, it would most likely have been a bit of a flop-show. Within one year of launch, all the efforts led to sales from practically nothing, to about 120-150 metric tons each month.

Boosted by our success, we wanted to take the program to the next level by making frozen pizzas, utilizing our cold-chain distribution network and distributing along with ice creams. I thought that with over 75,000 ice cream retail outlets (at that time) and a frozen cold chain unique to Amul, we could build frozen pizza market quickly. But, I did not succeed. I had missed an important element to become successful, which was a good quality oven required in the house holds, to convert the frozen pizza into steaming hot pizza – and that was something outside our zone of control. Converting frozen to fresh steaming hot pizza was difficult then, in Indian homes with limited equipment and thus, building a market for frozen pizza remained a dream unfinished!

But these taught, my colleagues and me, great lessons. I am sure that with better quality ovens in India, the day is not far when Amul will successfully be able to market branded packaged frozen pizza for masses!

Honorary Editor


Mr. BM Vyas took-over as Managing Director of AMUL Co-Op. during expansion and opening up of the Indian economy & globalization in the 90s. In order to take on the competition, he championed Total Quality Management across the dairy value chain in Gujarat. Within a span of 16 years at helm of AMUL, he increased sales of AMUL to eight-folds (from Rs. 9.8 billion to Rs. 80 billion). He steered AMUL to be Asia’s largest fresh Milk processor or No. 1 Dairy Brand in India as well as in Asia Pacific, as per Media Magazine Survey, 2009. Under his leadership; AMUL launched innovative and special Dietary products like Probiotic & Sugar Free Ice Cream, Probiotic buttermilk for the first time in India.

Building Distribution Network Needs a Dream


Building Distribution Network Needs a Dream

Most multinational companies have decades of successful experience marketing their products and building distribution networks. Yet they often fail when they fail to adopt their marketing mix to local conditions and end up with sub optimal results, delays and then finally re-launches. Wherever modern format stores dominate, the manufacturers role is limited to research, product development, manufacturing and brand management. Distribution, which is core to your success if often handed over to the modern format stores to innovate and manage. But building a Distribution network is very much like building an organisation. When we get visitors at Amul, and they see the mini movie clips of the history of Amul, they think that Amul’s distribution network was built over night and so also its products portfolio, which is not the case. In fact, Amul had outsourced distribution in the beginning as it sent milk in rail tankers; run by the railways, from Anand (Gujarat) to the metro city of Mumbai as part of the Greater Bombay Milk Scheme from 1946 to 1980!

It was marketing of milk in local markets in Milk Cans through consumer cooperative societies set up by consumers in the neighbouring towns of Anand, Nadiad, V V Nagar that led to establishment of Amul’s own distribution network.

As Dairy Cooperatives came up in neighbouring cities of Vadodara and Surat, Amul supplied milk to them when short in summer and accepted the extra milk collected in winter – helping these cooperatives sustain local markets. It also helped the government set up a Municipal Dairy in Ahmedabad and supplied milk to them for consumer marketing.

From 1946 to 1956 the sole attention was to expand milk procurement and selling in market of Mumbai through Greater Mumbai Milk scheme. When Amul decided to put up a state of art dairy plant, the decision was made so as to create capacity to make milk powder and also manufacture butter and ghee. It was at this stage that Dr. Kurien appointed an ad agency and brand “Amul” was coined for marketing purposes. Amul ghee was launched in tin cans and butter in 100g and 500g foil packs. To prevent early melting, the team improvised the packaging by adding an extra cardboard carton on top of the foil.

But such products need refrigerated transport and storage and in those days, developing a cold chain was a big problem. Ingenious technologist developed a solution – insulated Vans with an ice box cavity at the rear to keep temperature low during transport. Soon after a distributor was appointed in Mumbai to distribute butter and ghee. In 1960 Amul cheese was launched and then exclusive selling agreements were entered into with Spencer’s in south of the country, Om Prakash and sons in North, with Voltas in West and another party in the East.

Until now Amul was manufacturing skim milk powder and whole milk powder – which for the record, was made for the first time using buffalo milk. But then a very unique decision was made to produce value added infant milk food that too under brand Amul. With the help of CFTRI Mysore, Amul developed the first roller dried “Amul baby food” and later upgraded technology to introduce spray dried “Amulspray” infant milk food which was distributed by Voltas across India. At the time, with scarce foreign exchange available to the country, import of baby food was restricted and eventually stopped. Amulspray more than replaced this gap in the market.

Looking at the growing market, Nestle decided to enter the Indian market with their brand of baby food called Lactogen but by the time Amul had got deeply entrenched in this space. Having a portfolio of Butter, Cheese, Amul Milk Powder, Amulspray, Amul ghee and its forays into Amul chocolates and malted milk food, the time had come to create our own distribution house and eliminate the middleman!

Around this time Dudhsagar Cooperative at Mehsana was rapidly flourishing and its milk procurement was increasing leaps and bounds. Mehsana too supplied milk in bulk to Ahmedabad Municipal Dairy and later set up powder plant to manufacture skim milk powder and whole milk powder. In fact, the government of India gave financial support to expedite commissioning of this milk powder plant to become self-sufficient and supply Indian armed forces around the 1962 Chinese aggression. Later Mehsana entered into an agreement with Amul to manufacture Amul butter and Amulspray under manufacturing licensee arrangement. By this very deed, seeds were sown to form a marketing federation, which would manage the brand on behalf of all the co-operative manufacturing facilities.

With launch of Operation Flood – phase 1, district cooperative unions such as Sabar, Banas, Surat, Vadodara, and Bharuch came into existence and grew rapidly. Soon a need was felt to create a common marketing organization to pool resources and also bring in vital skill of marketing – all at the command of the very farmers who owned the cooperatives. The body helped avoid mutual competition but complemented and used pooled resources to expand customer base and kept completion at bay and even march over them!

Thus in 1973 all six district dairy cooperatives resolved to create Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd (GCMMF) with headquarter at Anand and each of them to become their members raising share capital in proportion to their procurement. Tribhovandas and all other chairmen in their wisdom decided to appoint Dr. V Kurien as the first nominated Chairman cum Managing Director. He was 52 years at that time and he remained chairman cum managing director until he was of 62.

This new Federation took over, then existing sales offices of Amul in Mumbai, Ahmedabad, New Delhi and Mehsana at a book value along with the staff.

As a next step, both Amul and Mehsana dairies agreed in principle to permit use of brand “Amul” and “Sagar” as common brand for marketing milk and milk products of all dairy unions, at a token royalty of only Rs. 1.

GCMMF continued to avail services of all its sole-selling agents in the beginning and only changed the invoicing to go through GCMMF. Later in 1974, it took over responsibility of distribution in western India on its own and expanded it into North Indian territories. Some time in 1980 it took over distribution from Spencers in South India and in 1984 it finally took full control of distribution in the East. Around 1984 GCMMF also took over control of exports from the dairy unions – thereby creating an entity that had full control on marketing and sales of all products branded “Amul” and “Sagar”.

By 1984 Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation had become a pan India distribution house with 14 offices with managed dry and cold warehouses and a network of nearly 800 distributors and 475 officers and staff! Now the time had come to shift into the next gear. The GCMMF board decided to deepen the distribution from 14 offices to about 35 offices that would service around 1800 distributors twice a week basis.

I must mention here that the credit for creating this network should go to two persons. Mr J J Baxi who had joined Gcmmf as an Assistant Gen Manager (Marketing) and Mr. Achal Padmanabhan, Manager (Distribution). These two person hand picked good distributors, decided on strategic office locations, standardised sales and distribution process which were world class! Another person who made a significant contribution but rarely found any mention, was Sri J M Shah, who was the then Head of Finance at Amul, who actually designed the terms of trade, collection, audit, stock reconciliation processes that has stood test of time for 40 years without any major fraud or bad debts!

Around 1986 Dr. Kurien decided to launch “Dhara” oil to make India self-sufficient in oil at the insistence of the Indian government. He wanted GCMMF to distribute Dhara oil pan India, which it did from 1988 to 2002 in a very efficient and cost effective ways. Important to note that during this time the number of sales offices and distributors increased to almost 3000 from around 1800. In 1986 GCMMF also decided to launch Milk in Ahmedabad metro-city and established its own 10 Lac Litres Per Day (llpd) state of art fully automated dairy with drying capacity, allowing it to market milk in Ahmedabad as seeding exercise.

Around 1992 with some experience of marketing milk, Amul Milk was launched in pouches in Mumbai through our can manufacturing subsidiary Kaira can ltd. It was difficult to market milk aggressively in Mumbai as we did not want to step on the feet of our sister cooperatives, not even by mistake. We only wanted to fill the gaps and keep private dairies in check, which had just started coming up since liberalisation in 1991! Marketing fresh milk in other than the home state, especially in metros involves transportation, third party packing, stricter quality adherence, and expanding distribution to capture higher market share – which were great challenges. As a result, lots of new lessons were learnt.

Around 1986 we had small problems in Kolkata and some other places. Internal enquiry and open discussion with Dr. Kurien revealed a dire need to computerise our marketing operations and as is the case with decision making in GCMMF, in matter of months computer hardware was procured, installed, and marketing sales and distribution software’s deployed pan India. Later in 1995 this was upgraded to custom made ERP and in 2010 entire SAP based ERP solution was given a go ahead, for all the dairies of Gujarat and GCMMF as one enterprise. The board of GCMMF resolved to invest over Rs. 100 Crores to stay ahead and efficient.

Around 1996 we decided to launch whole lot of fresh dairy products such as ice-creams, yogurts, beverages, paneer, and above all fresh milk in pouches in metros like Delhi and Kolkata. This made GCMMF the no.1 dairy brand marketers in India. This obviously required great level of planning and execution. Ice creams required cold chain as well as a whole lot of new distributors with experience in dealing with sub-zero product range. The complexity of the operation meant discipline in execution was paramount. Each and every outlet was required to be identified, enrolled, mapped, contracted, deep freezer and glow signs installed and connected to the distribution chain.

Similarly launch of milk in each market was a war like operation. To be conducted on 90 days timeframe to hit the target volume and become a dominant player in that market. Repeated launches in 3-5 markets a year on 90 days war like project were full of challenges and thrilling! Appointment of hundreds of new distributors, bringing them to Anand for orientation in ‘Amul yatraa’ and registering thousands of milk vendors in these cities at night and locating them on GIS and also simultaneously carrying out lakhs of house to house calls to explain the product stories, book orders before the actual launch, transferring such orders to retailers and concerned distributors and asking them to contact consumers. All these were unique processes developed with experience. These enabled Amul to capture a big market share in a very short time.

The commitment of team Amul in each of these launches was so extra ordinary that it would shake the competition to the core, any where we launched our products! With a relatively small number of marketing staff, in fact just about 700, we were able to launch over 40 successful products to take on the competition be it from the multinationals or otherwise!

We built a sustainable distribution network that works at night, deliveries daily in summer, winter or monsoon, everyday of the year without holidays or breaks. We have built distribution for chilled products supplied, stored and sold at -20 degrees Celsius, through over 100,000 ice-cream parlours across the country. We have built a network of over 5000 distributor cold rooms and 50 cold stores of our own to distribute Amul Butter, Cheese, Paneer in lakhs of outlets across the country, including the ones as far as Leh, Ladakh, Andaman, Nagaland, Manipur or Meghalaya.

We have built a team of 700 officers, 7000+ distributors, who in my opinion are our real marketing managers and the millions of retailers who sell Amul milk and milk products who are our true salesmen. Our asset is our distributors and our retailers and most importantly their faith in Amul.

We, at Amul, had a dream. And brick by brick, we built the distribution structure, GCMMF – A marketing organisation that is objective driven, target focused yet flexible, dynamic, self correcting,
Information technology driven, cost effective, waste free, and with a low cost model.

Distribution Networks are not built overnight. It cannot be built at all, unless you have a dream, clarity of purpose and above all, passion.

-B M Vyas

Source :

Honorary Editor


Mr. BM Vyas took-over as Managing Director of AMUL Co-Op. during expansion and opening up of the Indian economy & globalization in the 90s. In order to take on the competition, he championed Total Quality Management across the dairy value chain in Gujarat. Within a span of 16 years at helm of AMUL, he increased sales of AMUL to eight-folds (from Rs. 9.8 billion to Rs. 80 billion). He steered AMUL to be Asia’s largest fresh Milk processor or No. 1 Dairy Brand in India as well as in Asia Pacific, as per Media Magazine Survey, 2009. Under his leadership; AMUL launched innovative and special Dietary products like Probiotic & Sugar Free Ice Cream, Probiotic buttermilk for the first time in India.

My learning’s from a Master Institution Builder


My learning’s from a Master Institution Builder

When I first came to V.V. Nagar, a small town in Gujarat, where students from across the country came to study – I was fourteen and with limited means to support my education. In my last forty years in and around V V Nagar, I came across some of the biggest institution builders this nation has seen. Vikram Sarabhai, Tribhovandas Patel, Bhai kaka who was instrumental in establishing V V Nagar as the education capital in the state after partition of the country, and finally Dr. Verghese Kurien.

Recently I was invited to speak to an audience of start-up entrepreneurs where I was asked “how did Dr Kurien manage to build a huge network of over 250-300 businesses in a span of about 30 year as part of and outside Operation Flood? What were the key learning’s and did I myself practice any of these in my career working with Dr. Kurien?”

Working with a great leader, I always made it a point to learn good aspects of his leader and leave aside weaknesses, if any.

Even god has weaknesses as we’ve read in the scriptures. Dr Kurien was one of India’s top 10 instituting builders. I would even put him in top 3. Similar great personalities include Dr. Vikram Sarabhai who had conceived and built great institutions like ISRO, PRL, IIMA, ATIRA and more in a very short span of time. Likewise Dr Kurien created Amul and NDDB and a chain of 176 Dairies across India based on the ‘Amul Pattern’, along with a network of 70 cattle-feed factories, Indian Immunological for vaccines, Indian dairy machinery company for manufacturing dairy equipment locally and a unique rural business management institute, IRMA.

How did he manage to do these in a short time and where did he find his other directors from among rural folk? How did he find 200 plus local dairy chairmen and 2000+ directors to run these institutions successfully along with over 30,000 professionals?

Fundamentally he had a great faith in the wisdom of the farmers and their ability to judge what is good for them and reject what wasn’t. He had tremendous faith in young officers and their ability to run their businesses. Whenever he started new Business he invariably created multi-disciplinary team of very young officer in early twenties or thirties and appoint one of them as their leader. As far as possible he would meet the entire team along with the leader whenever key decisions were to be discussed.

While selecting a team – maximum attention was paid in making sure that team members have absolute integrity. He would often say, “Give 80% weight-age to integrity. Never compromise on this aspect at any cost. Secondly, ensure that the person is hard working. Give 20% weight-age to hard working nature of a person. Even if someone has no qualifications or has different qualifications – he/she would learn quickly.”

His mantra gave no weight-age to cast, creed, religion or region.

He would also invariably create a management committee of maximum eight people from among the team and the local farmers to meet at least once in two months with detail agenda and with explanatory notes circulated 8 days in advance. He would ask that this agenda include 8 basic issues of management such as Action taken after previous meeting, Operation review, P&L, Progress on Projects, Human resources, Audit report, Capital purchases and large Annual contracts and unusual incidences if any. He would ask for an independent, qualified, internal auditor of repute and a statutory external auditor be appointed to provide their written and oral report directly to the governing body. Having created this framework he would give utmost freedom to the CEO, allowing him to take all decisions with great freedom and permit any experimentation. If the experiment failed, he would never find fault with him or in the board. He would only look at their motive.

All new institutions he built would be housed in rented premises. He would always manage with minimum staff, with a core team and whenever required draw upon the skill, and facilities from sister organizations on payment basis – but avoid overheads as much as possible, until the organization has found its feet, started viable commercial operations and become stable on its way to the mission.

For example when Institute of Rural Management (IRMA) was started, it was housed in the laboratory building of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and the students were accommodated in farmer’s hostel. Phone lines of NDDB were used on payment basis while the library was shared.

Similarly when GCMMF (marketeers of AMUL brand) was established, it started on one floor of NDDB office with all furniture on rent, with staff using their own vehicles or public transport on claim basis. For the first 5 years GCMMF operated this way. Only when the sales turnover crossed Rs. 200 cores, that an office was built. A second car was purchased in its 11th year of operations!

Tribhovandas Foundation, when started was given space in the office building constructed by GCMMF and they stayed there on rent for five years. Only after the operations stabilized, and steady viable revenue streams – that they shifted to their own office.

He would keep a keen eye on a new organization and watch it grow. In case of any problems, he would provide great moral support and if need be, provide senior professionals to manage and guide the team through the crisis. All of this on one condition, that the team never compromised on integrity and quality.

There have been instances of when staff members have been asked to go within minutes. He would always hire professionals and organizations like advertising agencies, architects of great repute and once entrusted with the job – he would respect their creativity. He would never allow anyone to interfere in their creative work. He would always pay them fair remuneration, on time and give them utmost freedom and space which resulted in build lifelong association of a creative partnership of the highest order.

It was due these values that leaders like K. Kurien, of Radeus advertising and Sh. Sylvester D’Cunha of the famed AMUL butter topical, worked all their life on AMUL adverts, while Sr. Kanvinde designed and architect most of the offices.

Dr. Kurien also made it a point to address officers and staff, and share his thoughts every now and then. This helped us all of us see the bigger picture of our contribution in the process of Nation Building. It made us see our job as service to poor and the less fortunate. It is this realization that made us proud of our work, motivated us and gave us higher rewards than mere salaries or promotions.

Unlike most organizations our association grew over a period of time. We experimented and learn many new things for which most of us had no formal qualifications and spent a life time dedicated to this cause of nation building. While the visible commercial organizations are build to function as efficient viable businesses, Dr. Kurien would invariably dovetail them with leading academic institutions, leading Research organizations, and various national and international organizations like FAO, OXFAM, UNICEF, IITs, IIMs, Harvard etc. This allowed academicians to study his organizations impacts, short comings and achievements and in the process documents the learning and define further course of actions.

It is due to great leadership of such people great institutions flourish and help build a strong nation.

Source :

Honorary Editor


Mr. BM Vyas took-over as Managing Director of AMUL Co-Op. during expansion and opening up of the Indian economy & globalization in the 90s. In order to take on the competition, he championed Total Quality Management across the dairy value chain in Gujarat. Within a span of 16 years at helm of AMUL, he increased sales of AMUL to eight-folds (from Rs. 9.8 billion to Rs. 80 billion). He steered AMUL to be Asia’s largest fresh Milk processor or No. 1 Dairy Brand in India as well as in Asia Pacific, as per Media Magazine Survey, 2009. Under his leadership; AMUL launched innovative and special Dietary products like Probiotic & Sugar Free Ice Cream, Probiotic buttermilk for the first time in India.

I explained Dr. Kurien for 5 minutes


I explained Dr. Kurien for 5 minutes on why we wanted to go for a 100mtd plant

Source : bmvyas.blogspot

I was a recent engineering graduate when I joined Amul and it was more for a job, a relatively higher salary than my short previous stint and for the impact that Dr. Kurien had left behind when he had visited my college. Amul in those days seemed like a different land. It had lush green well-maintained lawns, spic and span dairy complex while the rest of the town, was almost a rustic rural setting. Little I knew, that this was about to change my life and that a living god silently working behind the scenes elevating soul of Amul for 22 years would leave such a lasting impact on the nation.

I admit that I was very ignorant then. After living in a neighboring town V.V.Nagar as a student for 5 years, and joining Amul I had neither heard nor read of Tribhovandas. Not even until October 31,1971 when I had already put in 6 months in Amul. I had heard of Bhai-kaka in Vallabh Vidyanagar and also of HM Patel, from my parents and grand parents. But little I knew about Tribhovandas K Patel, who was the founding Chairman of Amul, and was assigned the responsibility to build a dairy cooperative in Kaira to prevent exploitations of milk producers. This responsibility was assigned to him by none other than Sardar Patel and Morarji Desai.

Tribhovandas used to deliver interesting speech each year on the foundation day on 31st October and so also Dr. Kurien.

All employees, old and new, along with the farmers & milk producers used to gather at Amul to hear them both, with rapt attention and great interest. In addition to that, they would similarly address at General Body Meetings and I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to listen to what they had to say.

Tribhovandas would describe the difficult circumstances the cooperative was created in and how it is progressing since Dr. Kurien had joined. He would openly say all this development would have been impossible, if Kurien was not there. Dr. Kurien would then speak in English and some one would translate his speech in gujarati. Dr. Kurien would say “Tribhovandas is my guru! When I came to Anand, I used wear green felt cap, smoke cigar, drink and above all I was a bachelor. I had just returned from US after completing my post graduation. It was my good fortune, that here in Anand, I met my real guru. It is the combination of farmers wisdom and professional management that makes Amul a winning organization.”

He would say that those who are fortunate to have received higher education at the cost of poor must remember to subordinate their knowledge to the wisdom of farmers and thus serve the nation and noble cause. “Whatever I have done here is due to Tribhovandas”.

Tribhovandas was a visionary and he knew the need to reiterate the right message each year. In each and every meeting, he would mention that Amul as an organization is so designed, that it would always be able to fight any competition in dairy business and win. If anything, Amul milk producers need to be careful is about internal dissention. He would say, “We must ensure that we remove our political caps as we enter this organization. We keep our caste, religion, gender, class aside and just focus on Amul, and the cause. Amul should always watch disruptive forces emerging from within and eliminate such dissension”. Both Tribhovandas and Dr. Kurien reiterated these messages an umpteen number of times to sensitize every new member, employee, every visitor, be it a bureaucrat or a competitor!

People now know Dr. V Kurien and his immense contribution but few know of the contribution of Tribhovandas in creating the most apt and comprehensive business model that resolved huge problems of women empowerment, rural employment, milk production, malnutrition and availability of milk for urban and rural population at large! Replication of that very model pan India in 176 districts in 25 years made India the largest milk producers of milk in the world.

Dr. Kurien used to tell us that it is possible to produce Kuriens, but there is no ‘college’ in the world to produce Tribhovandas! Give me one Tribhovandas and you will get a Kurien!

I had little opportunity to directly work with Tribhovandas. But I would like to narrate a few incidents.

As an employee of Amul, I never went to wish or greet Tribhovandas on any occasion like Diwali or New Year. Many people did but I hadn’t. If I happen to pass by when he would be in car, he would not expect one to bow or wish him. And if you don’t he would rather appreciate!

Way before attending any of these events, while I had just joined Amul in the purchase department in 1971, someone approached me regarding purchase of a stationery item. I believed it wasn’t necessary and I refused straightway. No sooner had the man left; a clerk came to me and said, “How did you refuse him? He is Praful bhai, the son of Tribhovandas.” Now, I was all new and fresh out of college and I asked him, “Who is Tribhovandas”. The Clerk said he is our chairman. I in turn asked him “What does the Chairman mean?” The clerk had no answer.

Just about the time I was appointed as Managing Director of GCMMF, one afternoon Tribhovandas happened to come to the GCMMF office and was waiting in car while talking to Sri Jaswantlal Shah, former Chairman of Baroda dairy, a close friend of Tribhovandas and a great Gandhian himself. As I was returning to the office from lunch, Jaswantlal Shah waved and called me. And then facing Tribhovandas he said, “it was a good decision to appoint BM as MD of GCMMF”. Tribhovandas very politely said “Jaswantlal you are now 84, but your language still needs to be rectified! We have not made him the Managing Director, it is his work that has made him”.

In his last few days when he was admitted to the hospital, I felt like going and seeing him. So same evening around 8 pm, after work, I paid a visit to the hospital. He was alone in the room resting and Mani ben was sitting outside with some relatives. I went inside, the light was quite dim. No sooner had I reached near Tribhovandas, he said, “ has B M Vyas come?” And then started telling me about the war of independence. In particular he told me there was one freedom fighter called Madhav Pandya. He was so dedicated to the cause, that he did not take care of his family and is now no more. His grandchildren are living in very poor condition. He asked me, “Would you recruit one of his grandson as a peon, or an attendant? Just so that he can feed the family”.

I was quite shocked! Here is a man, a great national hero, a real gandhian, on his deathbed and instead of talking about his health or pain; he talked straight to point as if he was expecting me! That was the first and the last thing Tribhovandas ever asked me. That too for a freedom fighter who sacrificed his life for the independence of the nation, while unfortunately neglecting his family duties.

In 1984, Tribhovandas was in Chennai to attend Indian Dairy Association Annual conference and as we were staying in same hotel I used to help him due to his age. Once while travelling, he mentioned “when you were transferred to GCMMF from Amul Dairy, Dr. Kurien before issuing the transfer letter asked me about you and in turn, I asked my son Praful. On hearing your name Praful narrated the stationery incident and he appreciated the your attitude. He told me that we need an upright officer. I gave the same feedback to Kurien.”

It is pertinent to point out that both Praful bhai and Tribhovandas had the same mindset and even after being in a powerful position, they thought of the organization’s interest.

Another incident is 2001-02, when we were reviewing our 10-year plan for GCMMF. We had arrived at a gap in milk drying capacity (to dry milk into powder) and we had the options to install 3x30mtd plants, 2x60mtd plant or only one of 100mtd. By this time we had decided to launch milk in Delhi so instead of installing a 200 mtd drying plant we wanted only 100mtd capacity. I presented to Dr. Kurien and said we would like to put a state of art spray drying plant at an outlay of Rs. 70 crores and that too ourselves. We will create a project team and execute the project on our own.

I explained Dr. Kurien for 5 minutes on why we wanted to go for a 100mtd plant.

Just as I completed my reasoning, he said, “Go ahead”. I included that proposal for a formal board approval. Even in board meeting, as I finished explaining the rational, for 5 minutes the board cleared the proposal. I was amazed at their clarity of purpose, their faith in our team and entrepreneurship.

Much later, I was travelling with Dr. Kurien and I asked him how did he agree to such a massive expansion in less than 5 minutes? He smiled and said, “when we were to install our first ever spray-drying powder plant to dry buffalo milk into powder, it had been taken to the board in 1955. Tribhovandas took 5 minutes to approve! Tribhovandas was not a dairy engineer and the farmers co-operative union was too small to risk such capital expenditure then, but he had tremendous faith in farmers and his professional managers.”

I had been on the board of several public and private companies, but I rarely saw such clarity in decision-making and such risk taking abilities.

Be it Tribhovandas Patel, the founding Chairman of Amul, Moti bhai Chaudhary of Mehsana Dairy, Jaswantlal Shah of Baroda dairy or Tulsi Rao of Vishakha dairy, they all represented the spirit of Tribhovandas in real sense.

Tribhovandas Patel was the one who sculpted Dr. Kurien and also implanted the spirit of cooperation in his heart and through him, in all of us. We need a hand full of Tribhovandas to enable such Kuriens to perform! India needs them the most in days ahead.

-B M Vyas

Honorary Editor


Mr. BM Vyas took-over as Managing Director of AMUL Co-Op. during expansion and opening up of the Indian economy & globalization in the 90s. In order to take on the competition, he championed Total Quality Management across the dairy value chain in Gujarat. Within a span of 16 years at helm of AMUL, he increased sales of AMUL to eight-folds (from Rs. 9.8 billion to Rs. 80 billion). He steered AMUL to be Asia’s largest fresh Milk processor or No. 1 Dairy Brand in India as well as in Asia Pacific, as per Media Magazine Survey, 2009. Under his leadership; AMUL launched innovative and special Dietary products like Probiotic & Sugar Free Ice Cream, Probiotic buttermilk for the first time in India.

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