This paper analyses how the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), which designs and implements Operation Flood, reacted to the controversy it aroused. The focus is on aspects of the controversy that are of developmental interest.
The NDDB on Milk Production Technology
Next, a few quotations to demonstrate how the NDDB has switched from one position to another on the question of milch animals and their diet which is fundamental to a dairy development programme.
The NDDB on the Rural Poor
Here are some examples of how the NDDB has oscillated on the subject of whether or not Operation Flood is to rescue the rural poor from unemployment and penury.
Of the many populist banners marking the triumphal entry of Operation Flood into India's dairy economy, one promised compensatory justice for the rural poor. However, that banner was missing in the inaugural celebration of Phase Two. In any case, reports from milk tracts suggested that farmers with resources were the chief beneficiaries of the programme. Dairy officials shrugged off the rural poor's need for credit. And in recent conversations, these officials deny that the programme was ever intended to ameliorate rural poverty.
The NDDB on Milk as a Nutrient
The issues so far referred to have had developmental connotations wider than those of Operation Flood, linking up as they did to debates over food aid, transfer of technology, and redistribution. Was it perhaps because of these wider connotations that ambivalence and ambiguity entered the responses of the NDDB? Was the organisation perhaps unequivocal on issues internal to the project, such as the nutritional role to be played by the food milk?
Why This Reaction?
Examples of doublespeak by the NDDB on other issues connected with Operation Flood can be put forward, but we hope that we have made our point and can now attempt to explain this reaction of an organisation which has stimulated public controversy.
A basic conclusion is that serious defects in the programme itself were responsible for the shifting stands by the organisation committed to implementing the programme. To refer only to the issues which have been our focus, clearly the programme had not been able to use gifted commodities to attain self-sufficiency. Nor was the programme able to entrench the milk production technology it sought to transfer to India from the west. The programme could not live up to its other claims that it would help the rural poor out of the slough of unemployment, and that it would channel milk to all as a part of a national diet. Therefore the NDDB's position shifted to "Who wants self-sufficiency anyway?", "We are doing wonders without transferring technology", "It's not our business to help the rural poor" and "Milk is a cash crop, not a food crop." Shaky policy leads to unsure footing and dodging.
Cynics might attribute these shifts in position to the political expediency of pushing a programme through: promise self-sufficiency/technology transfer/equalisation/nutritional benefits in order to have the programme approved, and later on disown these objectives when they prove inconvenient. However, we would like to take a more positive approach and try to analyse some of the behavioural and structural factors that could be responsible for the reaction.
That policy defects inherent in the programme undermined the organisation's position like quicksand is suggested by the NDDB's extreme reluctance to joint debate on the issues. Most confrontations with critics took the form of questioning their credentials rather than countering their criticism. These critics were described as "leftists, paid pipers, mercenary journalists... disgruntled bureaucrats... milk contractors, oil kings, multinationals" (Patel: 1984: 2). When the secretary of the NDDB replied in the Economic and Political Weekly to a sociologist who questioned the soundness of the Operation Flood programme, the reply relied heavily on insinuations about the motives and associates of the sociologist.6 A similar response was elicited by the campaign of the India Committee of the Netherlands, "EEC Milk out of India", a campaign that demanded the phasing out of dairy aid, withdrawal of aid for babyfood manufacture and cross-breeding with exotics, and an end to EEC imports of cattle feed from India. "When asked for his responses to these demands, Dr Kurien told The Hindu that he 'resents' being asked about demands made by people "whose credentials are not known to me"... "These are just about 50 long haired people" and Kurien feels that there is a touch of 'racism' involved. The "white man still thinks he knows what is good for India and the Indian dairy industry"... "They are like the Ban the Bomb groups" (The Hindu, May 13, 1986).
This reluctance to debate the issues involved even taak the extreme form of refusal by the NDDB's personnel to recognise the government's right to evaluate performance: "the National Dairy Development Board received the resignation letters of 700 officers on December 14 protesting against the government's action in ordering an evaluation of the performance of the Board" (Economic Times, December 20, 1983). In this context, a letter to the editor of a national newspaper from a resident of the NDDB campus is of interest: "NDDB is a temple safeguarding the interests of millions of farmers in the country. Nobody should enter it with the intention of making it unholy. One cannot expect to find skeletons in holy places like the NDDB. In the process of search for such skeletons only feelings will be hurt" (Indian Express, Ahmedabad, December 26, 1983). Six months later letters of this tenor appeared again in the newspapers, but in connection with the army entry into the Golden Temple in Amritsar - a comparison that makes us wonder at such religious outrage in a secular organisation like the NDDB.
The question of whether the NDDB is sacred or secular territory is not one for serious debate, but we would like to argue that certain structural dualisms in the organisation may be responsible for its oscillating positions, viz, that ambiguity and ambivalence are built into the organisation and not just characteristic of its answers to public questioning. For the NDDB is at one and the same time a governmental organisation and a non-governmental organisation, an organisation which preaches cooperation but is itself not a cooperative, a national organisation and a very local one, an Indian organisation and an international one.
Whether the NDDB is a government organisation or not is the subject of heated disputation. "Legally, the National Development Board is a registered society. Informally it is an agency of the government" (Business India, January 2-15, 1984). "The National Dairy Development Board has sworn an affidavit before the Bombay High Court that it is not an instrumentality of the government of India, despite the fact that this is untrue, and that its funds come from the consolidated fund of India" (Alvares: 1984: 38). We will not here go into the question of the actual status of the NDDB7 but shall only emphasise how the organisation makes use of its ambivalent status.
The strategic convenience to the NDDB of a neither-public-nor-private position cannot be exaggerated. All successes, achievements, triumphs, victories are attributed by the NDDB to its own efforts. Failures, bottlenecks, delays, false steps - these are laid at the door of the government, although surely at some level the NDDB acts for the government. When questioned about the export of cattlefeed from a country of malnourished bovines, the answer is: "India's export policy is not decided by me or NDDB/IDC" (Kurien: 1983a: 23). When the defects of the crossbreeding programme are pointed out, the defence is: "The crossbreeding policy was evolved and accepted by the Ministry of Agriculture long before Operation Flood was considered" (ibid: 24). In short: "If it's right, it's because of us; if it's wrong, it's because of the government". Structural ambiguity thus encourages ambiguous response to controversy.8
The usage "NDDB/IDC" above in quotations draws our attention to another structural ambiguity. Are the NDDB and the IDC separate organisations, or two names for the same entity? If they are distinct organisations, why do they have the same board of directors headed by the same chairman? If they in fact function as a unity, why are they then denoted as separate institutions? An overt rationalisation of their separate status is that the financial and technical arms of dairy development should be differentiated in order to create checks and balances. But can one organisation act as a check on another when both have the same decision-making body? Does it not become just a matter of switching hats? And if key personnel in an organisation fall into the habit of switching hats, will this not facilitate the habit of switching positions on controversial issues?
Again, ambiguity becomes a strategic convenience, with checks and balances ostensibly present, but both arms of the balance ending in a single pan! A two-in-one organisation can also provide greater room for manoeuvrability than a single body. As a registered society, the NDDB cannot turn donated commodities into money and then invest the money, as these functions are the prerogative of a government organisation. So the IDC comes into being as the necessary government agency, but since the board of directors is the same as that of the NDDB, the commodities and funds are effectively being handled by the NDDB, except that it puts on a pair of gloves labelled IDC when it does so. The practice of pulling gloves on and off at convenience encourages the tendency to adopt and then drop positions in matters of controversy.
If the NDDB/IDC duality illustrates the advantages of two organisations that are Siamese twins, the organic analogy can be carried over to our next point of debate which concerns the fact that the national dairy development board has its heart in a certain place, namely Anand. The NDDB rejoices in two facts: as an organisation it is firmly rooted in the soil of Anand, yet as a national body its twigs stretch over a subcontinent. Could there not be same discrepancy between conditions at root level and those at the level of different twigs? Could it also not follow that the location of the centre of power may result in huge well-fed healthy roots, but with many twigs dry and neglected? The difference in conditions between Anand and other parts of India has been extensively discussed in the literature on the subject, as has the continuing special treatment under Operation Flood to the Kheda cooperative and its Amul Dairy at Anand.9
Here we will only underline the fact that there is something of a vicious duality involved. The NDDB derives its legitimacy from the productivity and prosperity of Anand and must therefore ensure that Anand is more prosperous and productive than other milk tracts in order to safeguard its justification for existence. So that a programme like Operation Flood, which overtly sets out to elevate other milk tracts to the level of Anand, covertly works to further elevate Anand's own status. What is more, unless Anand stands out as an oasis in the desert, international donors will not channel aid to the NDDB to create more oases. The grass must always be greener at Anand, for the location of the NDDB is not merely physical but also structural and strategic.
Of course, the grass in the rest of India is not uniform in colour and the gradations in hue are of interest here. The grass in certain districts of Gujarat state, although not equalling the verdure at Anand, is distinctly greener than elsewhere in the country: "dairying forerunner Gujarat... with almost half the farmer members and 55 per cent of milk procurement accounted for most of the progress" (India Today, op cit, p 125). Gujarat state can be considered as an extension of Anand and thus the heartland of the NDDB - to the extent that the chairman of the NDDB and IDC is also the chairman of the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF). If the same people speak for different organisations, perhaps discrepancy between statements is inevitable.
Another structural contradiction is that NDDB is a "farmers' organisation" without any farmers. "... we're simply trying to help farmers to own and control the fruits of their labour, to enable them to get a bigger share of the proceeds and in so doing to help them become more productive" (Kurien: op cit, p 42). According to Kurien "... I wanted to reduce the profile of the bureaucracy, give dairying back to the farmers and into their control" (The Hindu, ibid). "I should be permitted to remain an employee of farmers, not a government employee" (Kurien: op cit, 3).
There are no farmers' representatives in the NDDB. The only farmers one sees on the premises of the sprawling organisation are those who have come there for training, and indeed these 'masters' of the NDDB are lodged there in a modest hostel whose amenities cannot compare with those in the guest house where Indian and foreign dignitaries/experts are housed. The 'employers' have often to resort to strikes in order to get their employees to pay them a higher procurement price for milk, as in Erode in 1980 or as in the Kheda cooperative itself in the same year. The apex of the countrywide network of dairy 'Cooperatives created by the NDDB is the recently established National Cooperative Dairy Federation of India - which again shares its chairman with the NDDB, the IDC and the GCMMF. Note that the NDDB/IDC are not cooperative organisations, and farmers have no control over the disposal of donated dairy commodities or the investment of funds derived from the sale of these commodities. A politician who has considerable experience of Maharashtra's sugar cooperatives and who is mobilising resistance to the imposition of the Anand pattern over Maharashtra's dairy cooperatives, has inquired shrewdly why the Anand pattern of cooperativisation is not being extended to the NDDB and the IDC who recommend it to everyone else.10
Again, there are strategic advantages to be derived from the position of an organisation which advocates cooperativisation but is itself not a cooperative. Further, in India, if you want to be accountable to no-one, there is no better strategy than to declare that you are accountable only to the country's farmers - for your constituency will make few demands on you, being scattered, relatively powerless, and ignorant of the English language in which your fine rhetoric is voiced.
Let us proceed to discuss structural contradictions with reference to national/international dimensions. The NDDB, as we have seen, has in its national sphere of influence quite formidable powers vested in it by the government of India. Yet the NDDB's sphere of operations extends beyond Indian borders in some significant ways. Much of its support is from international sources, whether from the sale of dairy commodities donated by the EEC or from World Bank loans. "... we should be grateful to all those who have made Operation Flood possible... the World Food Programme of the United Nations, the FAO, the European Economic Community, the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, and friendly countries like the UK, the US, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden, and last, but not least, the Netherlands" (Kurien: 1986: 8). Without support from abroad in various forms, it is doubtful whether the NDDB would have been able to cut such a grand organisational figure or make such a big organisational splash. The funds so derived provide carrots to dangle in front of state governments, and play the crucial role of bait to attract additional internal finance.
Further, the NDDB (like its mother institution the Kheda cooperative with its Amul Dairy) is not only a jewel in the national crown to dazzle visitors with, but also an international showpiece, with international development agencies as proud of the organisation for their contribution to it as the Indian government and public are. To this extent, the NDDB has leverage on such agencies as it has on the government of India. The situation increased in piquancy when we note that while international agencies are offstage and behind the scenes, the audience to which the NDDB often plays is that of other Asian and African countries which applaud the NDDB's anti-western speeches - speeches that are made in costumes and amidst stage props provided by the West. International agencies do not seem to object to such speeches but indeed join in the applause, for does it not accrue to these agencies' credit that their assistance has not eroded the NDDB's autonomy and freedom of speech? Also, if Asian and African countries are inspired to replicate Operation Flood, will not these countries invest in costumes and stage props from the same source?
The fact that the NDDB in its international capacity plays on different stages to varying audiences means that it often makes very different speeches at home and abroad, and sometimes these speeches contradict each other.
On the subject of EEC motives in donating milk commodities to India, the NDDB tells an Indian audience: "As far as the EEC officials I have dealt with are concerned, their sole intention was to develop the dairy industry in our country with a surplus that was becoming an embarrassment to them" (Kurien: 1983a: 10). On the same subject, the NDDB says in Paris: "When Operation Flood was first launched in 1970, one advanced dairying country insisted that one of its own men should be watchdog over the commodity aspects of Operątion Flood. Why? To ensure that India became self-sufficient in milk production - or not? That the watchdog was placed in our field was the result of a 'deal' which was struck... Mixing aid with trade is not on" (Kurien: 1978b).
About the quality of donated dairy foods, the NDDB's position when facing critics in India is: "If the implication is that we are receiving substandard commodities fit only for animal feed, then Mr Alvares should have the courage to state that. He most likely did not because it is clearly untrue. EEC has agreed to meet the quality standards we had stipulated and to permit pre-shipment inspection... As a result, the quality of commodities we receive is almost always good. If it is not we reject it. Happily, such rejections have been few" (Kurien: 1983: 12). On the same subject, the position in Paris is: "I must frankly say that, in trying to get Operation Flood implemented in India, we had severe, practical difficulties with regard to the quality and continuity of food aid to be received for the programme. Especially in the early years... We received mouldy milk powder and rancid butter oil, which we were supposed to recombine into liquid milk for haman consumption and sell to Indian consumers. When we complained, we were in effect told that beggars cannot be choosers" (Kurien: 1978b).
As one commentator puts it: "the NDDB on strategic occasions makes defiant gestures towards the West... although with the same hand that collaborates with it" (George: 1987: 24). Indeed, the greater the emphasis of Operation Flood on Western dairy technology and the heavier the dependence on international commodities, the more the NDDB's voice crackles with nationalistic fervour.
The National Dairy Development Board is truly a fascinating subject for students of Organisational Behaviour (OB). We hope that one day a monograph on this organisation based on intensive fieldwork and research will appear. This paper does not attempt such a comprehensive analysis but only uses the case/study of the NDDB to extend our understanding of how an organisation reacts to the controversy it arouses. We argue that the NDDB did not stand up to the challenge of controversy but instead dodged under fire. It changed its coat of defence depending on the expediencies of debate. On all important issues concerned with the Operation Flood programme, the NDDB displayed a wardrobe of reversible garments, now claiming one thing, then the opposite, switching with a dexterity that a quick-change artist would envy.
We argue further that this ruse of reversible garments is related to the very structure of this organisation, which is essentially one of dualism, ambiguity, ambivalence - a Janus of an organisation, to use the Roman name for a creature with two faces looking in different directions. The corollary of our argument is that if the NDDB were to restructure itself with a single face - if it were to be either of the government or outside the government, if checks on it were operative from organisations truly separate from it instead of from its own avatar the IDC,11 if it were to function as a national organisation and not as if the rest of the country were colonies of Anand, and if it were to restrict itself to Indian finance rather than depend so heavily on external aid - the NDDB could formulate a programme other than Operation Flood and defend or modify this programme in unequivocal terms, progressing from controversy to resolution instead of retreating to evasion.12
Hope flowers on reading a recent annual report of the organisation: "The National Dairy Development Board became a legal entity on September 27, 1965. Thus as we present this annual report, we prepare to enter our 21st year. This seems to us a good time to take stock of things to ask ourselves, "What has been achieved?" and "What next?" ... The NDDB's doors have always been open to those who wish the country's dairy industry well and who have constructive ideas about making the dairy industry more responsive to the needs of our country..." (NDDB: 1985: 4).
OB and the Art of Controversy Management
If the field of organisational behaviour is to become more developmentally oriented through a focus on strategic organisations, then some consideration should be given to the factor of controversy, since strategic organisations will perhaps inevitably attract controversy. Our argument is in fact that strategic organisations should attract controversy, and further that the presence and quality of controversy that surrounds an organisation is an indicator of how strategic it is proving to be in terms of innovative and adventurous behaviour, of mobilising social opinion, of sharpening public awareness of developmental issues, and of provoking public debate. Our emphasis on the quality of controversy stresses the distinction between negative and positive controversy, negative controversy being related to dishonesty, illegality, etc, and thus something that a strategic organisation should not invite.
The analysis of behaviour in an organisation involved in controversy should answer the following questions - what sort of controversy has this organisation aroused? How has the organisation responded to the controversy? What are the pros and cons of such a response? How can we explain the reaction in organisational terms? What recommendations and prescriptions can we put forward to the organisation? What insights can we derive from the case analysis for improved theories of organisational behaviour?
In using the case study of the National Dairy Development Board, we argue that this organisation is one of the rare cases in India to stimulate positive controversy and that this is a creditable and strategic achievement. However, the manner in which the NDDB reacted to the controversy it generated was not equally positive, for when debating issues of developmental significance the organisation veered from one position to another. We argue that these oscillations can be related to the very structure of the NDDB which see-saws between acting as a governmental organisation and a non-governmental one, between a regional position and a national one, between a national position and an international one.
&bsp; Perhaps the NDDB's structural precariousness is responsible for the fact that let alone not arguing clearly on the issues, the NDDB tries its best to avoid arguing on the issues at all, preferring to argue about the credentials of those who question the behaviour of the organisation. The developmental sterility of such a reaction can only be regretted, for it does not help the organisation or the country whose problems it is addressing or the public that is its constituency. In fact it can be argued that a reaction of this sort is anti-developmental.
Towards the end of the last section, we had put forward some broad structural recommendations that should now be briefly related to the concepts used in the analysis of organisational behaviour. Our suggestions that the NDDB locate itself clearly within the framework of governmental institutions (instead of having one foot in and the other foot out, and shifting from one to another according to which position is expedient), and that the NDDB draw the large part of its funds from national coffers rather than rely on the proceeds from selling internationally donated commodities, relate to the boundary clarification and resource dependency of an organisation. Unclear boundaries, we have seen, result in unclear positions. Further, the present position of the NDDB creates grave problems of accountability, loyalty and external dependence.
Similarly, our prescription that now the NDDB has come of age with twenty-one years of existence it should cut the umbilical cord that binds it to the Kheda cooperative in particular and to Gujarat in general, concerns situations where the large organisation grow out of smaller ones and then prove unable to unwilling to disentangle themselves from apron strings. In the same manner that the NDDB has to grow out of being an Anand Dairy Development Board in order to fulfil its role as a national board, it has also to quit dressing up in garments too big for itself to play act at being an International Dairy Development Board mediating between western dairy commodities and technology and Asian/African economies, and instead must address itself effectively to its own country's needs and realities. In short, the NDDB has to recognise its legitimate boundaries and operate efficiently within these. In this context, the ritually-present-but-actually-non-existent boundaries between the NDDB and the IDC should be rationalised in one way or another to eliminate the current mockery of institutional checks and balances.
The usefulness of a case study emerges here, because in an abstract discussion an organisation with boundaries that expand and contract according to different requirements might appear to embody greater possibilities of flexibility, creativity, responsiveness and freedom from constraints. The actual instance of the NDDB as such an organisation reveals conflicts, contradictions and, indeed, the misuse of freedom from constraints. Perhaps the phase "good fences make good neighbours" should be paraphrased in our present context as "definite boundaries make coherent organisations".
Another boundary problem that the case of the NDDB alerts us to is the danger of identifying the boundaries of an organisation with the boundaries of a programme. In the present situation, the NDDB not only implements the Operation Flood programme but in a sense the NDDB is the Operation Flood programme. It is passionately devoted to this programme and in fact has no other programme to implement. A reminder seems necessary that this organisation is not the National Operation Flood Board but the National Dairy Development Board - that it is basically committed to dairy development and not to any particular programme. Otherwise, means seem to be confused with ends, to the extent that implementing the programme becomes an end in itself instead of a means to an end. Perhaps organisations have to learn to distinguish between a charter (of ends to work towards) and a programme (of means to attain these ends). The present total identification of the NDDB with a single programme inevitably leads to a situation where criticism of the programme is taken as criticism of the NDDB. And instead of turning its own critical eye to check on the validity of the arguments against the programme - as the organisation could do if the programme were perceived as something separate from itself - the organisation which sees the programme as itself responds to critics of the programme as attacking itself, and reacts emotionally, defensively, illogically and subjectively.
Although our argument has been in the case of the NDDB that contradictions in organisational behaviour arise largely out of contradictions in organisational structure, we would like to follow up what we have said in the last paragraph, viz, "Keep a dispassionate distance from your programme", with some other general do's and don'ts for organisational behaviour in situations of controversy. Our prescriptions are based on the NDDB case, but now on the level of behavioural rather than structural analysis.
"Don't promise the moon - you may be taken seriously." Organisations should not succumb to the politician's syndrome of proferring unrealistic and insincere promises in order to get elected or re-elected. Much of the controversy over Operation Flood could have been controlled if unrealistic targets such as "self-sufficiency in five years" had not been set, and expectations that the programme would make an impact on rural poverty and unemployment had not been aroused. If an organisation wants to keep controversy at a managable level, it should direct its programmes towards realisable targets and objectives. This in turn involves thinking in the long term perspective, not just pushing the programme through 'now' or getting it extended with fresh gimmicks 'for another five years'.
"Take note of strategic groups outside the organisation." A programme with developmental dimensions should not be shaped only with referente to the government, funding agencies, politicians and bureaucrats, but in consultation with groups having similar developmental interests. Given the claims of the NDDB that the Operation Flood programme would restructure rural India, it was inevitable that voluntary organisations and social scientists would confront these claims, with the consequent controversy that the NDDB proved unable to handle without contradiction. Had these groups' concern been recognised beforehand, awareness within and debate by the NDDB might have been significantly different.
"Evaluation is good for you." Notwithstanding the letter from the NDDB campus quoted earlier, an organisation is not a temple where scrutiny amounts to sacrilege. Evaluation is the compass that reassures an organisation that it is moving in the right direction, and without which it might drift or run aground or be hijacked. The public drama whereby seven hundred officers of the NDDB threatened to resign because the government ordered an evaluation of the organisation can only be deprecated. A more mature response - and one which would have enhanced the NDDB's image and strengthened its credibility - would have been: "By all means, go ahead with the evaluation. We've been doing our best and will be glad to know of ways in which we can improve our performance."
"Try to be your own strongest critic." If constructive criticism is built into an organisation's mode of functioning, the pressure of criticism from outside will be correspondingly balanced, and indeed comparison of internal and external criticism will yield useful insights. Thus, when a journalist or a social scientist levels a criticism at the organisation or one of its programmes, instead of reacting with "How can we hit back at this nasty person?", the organisation should ask itself: "Is this correct? If so, why didn't we spot it ourselves? How are we going to set it right? And how do we gracefully admit our change in position?"
"It's all right to be wrong." An organisation should bear in mind that it is only an organisation. It is not God, so need not aspire to be all-knowing and infalliable. In fact, openness to modification and readiness to learn should be part of a strategic organisation's ethos. The problem with the NDDB is that it is used to public admiration and fears that this admiration may be shaken if it is seen to make mistakes. Not at all. A mature organisation admits to its mistakes and learns from them, and a mature public appreciates it for doing so. In fact the NDDB is in an unusually strong position to do this, since it enjoys greater public, official and international support than most other organisations in India and could have openly changed its stand without forfeiting this support.
"React, but don't overreact." Thick-skinned organisations pay no heed to criticism of them. Ostrich organisations bury their heads in the sand and hope that controversy will recede. The NDDB is neither of these, for it reacts. Unfortunately, however, it overreacts. Thus "The White Lie", a six page article by Claude Alvares in the Illustrated Weekly of India criticising the NDDB and Operation Flood, unleashed a literal flood of reaction by the NDDB: a rejoinder in the same periodical, a 44 page booklet entitled "Black Lie", two volumes of articles favourable to the NDDB and Operation Flood compiled from various newspapers and magazines... Surely the rejoinder would have sufficed? The quantitative bulk of this reaction was not matched by the qualities of clarity and consistency, as we have attempted to show in earlier sections of this paper. Despite the show of strength, therefore, the NDDB did not defend itself adequately, nor was the public educated on the issues under debate. What was in fact achieved was the triumphant launching of Claude Alvares' career as an investigative journalist. Not exactly what the NDDB had intended, although it was the force of the organisation's reaction which propelled the launching.
"Maintain the dignity of debate." India already has a multi-crore film industry to provide the public with melodrama, farce, rhetoric, heroes, villains... and this industry carries out these functions admirably. There is no need for strategic organisations to participate in the entertainment business, especially since these organisations are urgently required to remain in the developmental sphere. Strategic organisations should not respond to controversy with hysteria, denunciations, out rage and poses of wounded nobility as the NDDB did. An organisation has little to lose and much to gain by defending itself quietly, clearly, coherently, convincingly and decorously. Even when critics thunder and thump, a low-keyed dignified response will be more effective. People may wave red scarves of provocation at you, but you don't have to react with the mindless frenzy of a bull - even if your institutional emblem is the Mohenjo Daro bull. The better your case is, the less noise you need to make.
We end this paper with a hope that the analysis of organisational behaviour will come to grips with the question of controversy in order to benefit strategic organisations such as the one which we have chosen here for a case study. A distinct body of theory and applications must emerge to help organisations respond to controversy as a stimulant, a catalyst, a challenge, a spur to greater efforts, and an opportunity for growth and development. Other case studies of variant situations are required for this, but also a corresponding expansion and retailoring of some theories of organisational behaviour.
[This is a revised version of a paper originally presented as a single author contribution to the international conference on Organisational Behaviour and Development held at the Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad, from December 29, 1986 to January 2, 1987. The authors express their gratitude to: the Indian Institute of Management and Pradip N Khandwalla for an opportunity to present the views embodied in this paper; the National Dairy Development Board office in New Delhi for use of their library; and P V George for a steady supply of press clippings over the years.]
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National Commission on Agriculture, Interim Report on Milk Production through Small and Marginal Farmers and Agricultural Labourers, Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi, 1971.
National Dairy Development Board, Staff Note on 'How Europe's Milk is Becoming India's Poison' and Subsequent Correspondence... NDDB, Anand. n d.
National Dairy Development Board, Operation Flood II: A Proposal... NDDB, Anand, 1977.
National Dairy Development Board, Annual Report 1978-79, NDDB, Anand, 1979.
National Dairy Development Board, Forages for Higher Milk Production, NDDB, Anand, 1980.
National Dairy Development Board, Dairying in India, NDDB, Anand, 1982.
National Dairy Development Board, Annual Report 1982-83, NDDB, Anand, 1983.
National Dairy Development Board, Annual Report 1984-85, NDDB, Anand, 1985.
Patel, Sujata, 'Milk and Development', Indian Express, March 23, 1986.
Rome Declaration Group, Concern about EEC Dairy Aid, World Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development, Rome, n d.
Shinde, Annasaheb, Agriculture and Water: Some Issues of Planning and Policy (in Marathi), Srividya Prakashan, Pune, 1987.
(Ordinary news items have not been listed here since their sources and dates are given in the text).
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