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Mission Drift and Goal Diffusion Pushes IRMA into a “Wrong Race” 1

Mumbai, Jun 5, 2006 (PTI) Father of White Revolution in India Dr Verghese Kurien today
announced his decision to resign from the Chairmanship of Institute of Rural Management, Anand
(IRMA) in the wake of the growing dissent against him after occupying the post for almost 30 years.
"The genesis of IRMA was in response to the need of rural producers' organisations for
professional managers -- intelligent young men and women who are fired by the desire to
transform rural India and equipped with skills and knowledge of management education
combined with development orientation." "In this short period IRMA has become a pioneer in the
field of rural management and a pathfinder. For more than 57 years that I have been involved with
development, I have worked from a simple premise: the farmers know what is best for them, what
they need is professional support to help them achieve full development potential," he said. "But
now, there are some people who are restless to occupy the positions I have held and
waiting for my exit. I wish them well. But I also hope they will not tinker with the
fundamental principles on which the institution has been set up, nurtured and brought to
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their present state," he said. (Excerpts from press brief JUN 05, 2006)

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Recent announcements of current Chairman and Director, about IRMA set to expand its wings by
starting new schools and centres of excellence need to be viewed carefully in the light of the above
statement of Dr Kurien. The pronouncement states: “While IRMA will continue leveraging upon its core
strength and brand image to serve its classic audience the co-operatives, these new schools will create
knowledge base for newer areas, including producer companies, public private partnerships and
Panchayati Raj institutions, while the centres will come up in areas of food security, nutrition and rural
poverty”. This understanding and portrayal of IRMA is at best partial and selective. Almost since
beginning, IRMA has embraced people’s institutions, civil society organizations including government and
corporate social responsibility initiatives. Anybody who cares to read, “Two Decades of IRMA” and Silver
Jubilee Souvenir will realize the wide spectrum of IRMA’s work.

The present step should not result in moving away from the core strength of ushering a new discipline of
“rural management”. Imitating the ways of JNU or IGIDR or TISS poses such danger. Education,
experiential background and comfort zones of the Chairman and Director duo currently at the helm of
affairs usher IRMA in such direction. Perhaps this can be inferred from the ways in which the two days
consultation institute had organised on "The Challenges of Negotiating India's Rural Transformation:
Evolving strategies for IRMA's Response”. The composition of the invited experts, who were to be
reminded again and again that IRMA is a rural management institution unlike the institutions they come
from, reveals the potent drift of mission and diffusion of goals. The trio- Chairman, Director and Steering
Committee - who planned and conducted the two days consultation with faculty members politely
restricted only to attending, are trying to push IRMA into areas of their comfort and interests. Publicity
hungry Chairman and Director have a developed taste for cultivating power that amply explains the
presence of Mr Rahul Gandhi during the two-day consultation and press pronouncements that ensued
without following wider consultative processes.

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KV Raju, alumnus from the second batch of PRM and Faculty Member, IRMA. The views are personal, not against persons but
about incongruities between the perspectives guiding current Re-visioning exercises and the founding principles and vision of IRMA.
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Kurien quits as IRMA chairman http://www.rediff.com/money/2006/jun/05kurien.htm
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IRMA to expand wings: Start schools, centres of excellence Times of India - Aug 13, 2010

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One should never forget that rationale for setting up of IRMA and the founding purpose of IRMA is
“Transform Rural India” by improving management efficiency and governance effectiveness of the
development interventions unlike the purposes which JNU or TISS or IGIDR are expected to serve. It is
unfortunate that IRMA is saddled with a Chairman and Director who needs to be continuously reminded
of this. This can be gauzed from the composition of the Steering Committee they had set up for planning
IRMA’s Future. It is headed by a new entrant with little experience in management education or practice
Current exercise to transform IRMA to emulate the ways of TISS or IGIDR or JNU is under their active
guidance spear headed by the Steering Committee that is equally clue less about IRMA’s uniqueness and
its purpose. Consultative processes followed were ornamental and ritualistic rather than substantive.

At present, IRMA is left with hardly a few faculty members with education and experience in practice of
management. Its image as a premier rural management institute is getting fast eroded. The Steering
Committee’s report should be commended for acknowledging the fact of such continual erosion in the
focus on “core” functional areas of management in IRMA programmes. Most of the new entrants to faculty
and board, joined IRMA without significant and relevant experience in management education or practice.
The orientation of the new entrants including Chairman and Director lacks appreciation of and
commitment to the founding principles of IRMA. All this will probably lead IRMA astray from the focused
pursuit of ‘professionalizing the management of rural development efforts by people’s institutions that
later got extended to embrace the efforts of civil society organizations, donor agencies and Government’.
New initiatives by the incumbents steer IRMA away from founding principles about which Dr Kurien
warned before bidding good bye and push it into a “wrong race” as one of the participants pointed out.

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What Made Kurien Angry: Plan to Revamp IRMA on IIM MODEL?

A report that sought to change the character of the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA), and
mould it into the IIM model, was at the centre of the earlier turmoil. The report was prepared by a
consultancy firm commissioned after the IRMA Board approved a review of the institute’s performance
over the last 25 years as part of its silver jubilee celebrations. ‘‘It hit at the soul of IRMA as it was
conceived. It was condescending in tone and against the grain of the IRMA idea,’’ says Kurien in his
reply. Kurien adds: ‘‘I left IIM, Ahmedabad, to set up IRMA in 1979. Now they want to disturb the very
roots of the idea.’’ The report recommends that IRMA should go for an IIM-like model, raise fee levels in
some programmes, offer joint programmes with other agencies and through guest faculty, and seek
removal of restrictions on placements and consultancy opportunities for its faculty which Kurien and many
others saw as a “wrong race” to push IRMA into.

What Should Make You Angry: Plan to Mutilate and Model IRMA after TISS or JNU or IGIDR

Current Chairman, Director and Steering Committee have very limited horizon; and their interests,
aspirations and priorities are not in consonance with the mission and the founding principles of IRMA. The
faculty composition is changing not in tune to serve the core of its mission. If the designs of the current
Chairman, Director and Steering committee are allowed to succeed, IRMA will probably further dilute its

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http://www.indianexpress.com/oldStory/68766/

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focus on managerial perspectives; erodes its distinction of being a pioneering institution in rural
management education and eventually gets reduced to become another institute of social sciences. It is
more likely that IRMA will drift away from its mission leading to inevitable diffusion of goals and unrelated
diversification. It is unfortunate that those who are responsible for protecting the integrity of the founding
purpose of institutions often exhibit small minded tendencies unworthy of the positions they occupy to
derail and shape the institutions to serve their narrow interests, priorities and aspirations rather than rising
themselves to serve the purpose of the institutions.

This is a call to all well wishers including past, present board and faculty members; alumni and current
participants to save IRMA from the agony of mutilation of its unique founding purpose that pushes into a
“wrong race” and ensure its ecstasy by restoring it to its niche that inspired many to imbibe and emulate
its founding principles and vison. Are you listening?

Imperatives of Ontology of Hope

The world is evolving toward and some may argue that it already entered a knowledge based global
economy with intellectual skill replacing physical capital in the search for current and future sustained
growth (bloom, canning and chan, 2006). Knowledge has been found to be a chief determinant driving
success and growth through its ability to reduce poverty. Tertiary education imparts knowledge and
produces professionals who then directly and indirectly impact on macroeconomic institutions, the
information and telecommunication infrastructure, the national system for innovation, and the quality of
human resources. IRMA was created to produce rural management professionals who make significant
contributions in transforming the rural society.

IRMA seeks to embody pedagogy of hope through knowledge pioneering scholarship, research and
teaching, generating hope and optimism from and within India. The pedagogy of hope concept needs to
be adopted as a guiding principle in teaching, research and learning. To many, even in academic circles
pedagogy is a seldom heard word. It is nevertheless an important concept reflecting the art and science
of teaching, or the how of learning. Hope therefore is or should be embedded in the skill of teaching and
educating. It is a foundation from which the message of possibility over limitations, of opportunity over
cynicism, of creation over destruction, indeed, of hope over pessimism is carried through to everyone in
our community. Hope is something more than optimism; it is crucial imperative for human condition. You
cannot have education in the absence of hope; learning cannot happen. Leaning is something more than
just imparting knowledge through teaching; it is a special process where we absorb and adapt and
question. Knowledge, in all its shapes and forms, is the vehicle through which future opportunities and
future success is achieved – the better the vehicle the more suited it is to individual needs, the better the
journey and the destination. Generating hope from IRMA is thus a future oriented vision for rural
management education in India. Dr. Kurien’s belief that India’s destiny is positive and it gets shaped by
placing instruments of development in the hands of rural people is urgently required for resurgence of
hope to replace cynicism, despair and pessimism. This implies that we need professionals who work and
partner with rural people rather than who work for them.

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Kurien quits as IRMA chairman 5
June 05, 2006 20:00 IST

Dr Verghese Kurien, father of the White Revolution in India, on Monday announced his decision to resign
from the chairmanship of Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA) in the wake of the growing
dissent against him after occupying the post for almost 30 years. "I have been at the helm for long. Time
has come for me to make way for the younger blood to take over the reins and lead the organisation
towards the future," Kurien told media persons in Mumbai. "It is not possible to hold on to an office for
such a long time. Others too have the right to occupy the chair. I should have done it long ago. But better
late than never," Kurien said. IRMA was set up to support institutions like Amul. Today there are more
than 11 million cooperative dairy farmers all over India under the Amul-model dairy cooperatives.

"I stepped down from the Chairmanship of National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in 1998, after
being its founder-chairman for 33 years. But I never drew any salary from NDDB as I always wanted to be
an employee of the farmers, rather than the government," he said. Recently, Kurien resigned as the
Chairman of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) after being its co-founder-
chairman for 32 years, "but having elected unanimously every year." "The highest monthly salary I ever
drew from GCMMF was Rs 5,000, that too I stopped drawing 24 years ago, when I reached the age of 60
years," he said.

"And today I announce my decision to resign from the Chairmanship of IRMA Board of Governors. I will
be sending my resignation when the IRMA Board meets on June 8," he said. In a media statement,
Kurien said: "The genesis of IRMA was in response to the need of rural producers' organisations for
professional managers -- intelligent young men and women who are fired by the desire to transform rural
India and equipped with skills and knowledge of management education combined with development
orientation." "In this short period IRMA has become a pioneer in the field of rural management and a
pathfinder. For more than 57 years that I have been involved with development, I have worked from a
simple premise: the farmers know what is best for them, what they need is professional support to help
them achieve full development potential," he said.

"I believe that the success of AMUL, which triggered large-scale dairy development efforts making India
the top milk producing country in the world today, can be repeated in many other fields. What we need to
do is to help rural producers build institutions owned and controlled by them. When farmers' wisdom is
combined with professional managerial skills, you witness a development miracle," he added.
"Unfortunately, barring a few, professionals from conventional management schools were neither willing
nor had the orientation to work for rural organisations. IRMA was founded with this realisation and the
two-year course in Rural Management was started to train young women and men to work for farmers
and the rural poor. I believe that a co-operative -- an enterprise of, by and for users -- is the institution that
can work best," he further said.

"IRMA trains the youth to be multi-faceted innovators and catalysts of rural change in the broadest sense
of the term. IRMA's engagement with the rural sector has brought in more partners, NGOs, development
organisations, funding agencies, and other member-controlled organisations. More than 2,000 rural
management professionals trained by IRMA are now working in wide ranging rural organisations across
the country and beyond. Since Independence India has made progress in many areas, in agricultural
production, in dairy industry, in science and technology, in telecom and several other industries. But a lot
remains to be done to take the fruits of development to the rural people," Kurien said in the statement.

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http://www.rediff.com/money/2006/jun/05kurien.htm

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"IRMA offers to train our youth for challenging careers in rural management, careers that would make a
difference to the lives of the rural people. Careers in rural sector value the qualities of integrity, creativity
and excellence in professionals while providing opportunities to build institutions and grow with them.
Working for rural producers and the disadvantaged sections of the population is doubly rewarding for
those who join IRMA and for the nation as well, and offers challenges. To those who have an enduring
commitment and an earnest desire to equip themselves professionally to contribute to the cause of rural
transformation, I would urge that they should consider joining IRMA," he said.

"I came to Anand (Gujarat) 57 years ago, to be precise, on Friday, May 13, 1949. The Government of
India sent me to the Government Research Creamery at Anand on my return from the United States after
my post-graduate studies at the Michigan State University. Since the Government of India had sent me to
the United States on a scholarship, I was under obligation to serve for five years anywhere the
government sent me," he said. "Immediately after I came to Anand, I realized that there was hardly any
work for me at the Research Creamery. And, Anand then was a sleepy small town with hardly any
infrastructure. I could not get a place to stay; in fact being born Christian, a non-vegetarian and a
bachelor, nobody was willing to rent me a house. I, therefore, had to stay in the garage of the dairy. I
wanted to leave Anand. However, soon I was lucky to get in touch with great freedom-fighters like the
founder-chairman of Amul, late Shri Tribhuvandas Patel and Shri Morarji Desai. Shri Tribhuvandas Patel
for some reasons liked me and got me increasingly involved in the running of the Amul Dairy," Kurien
said. "The rest is history. By 1997 India had become the largest milk producing country in the world,
surpassing the United States. Unlike many of the present day leaders, Tribhuvandas Patel was a great
patriot and was genuinely concerned for the well being of farmers. For him, the co-operative was an
article of faith. He was my Guru. Very soon, the faith in co-operatives also grew in me. I believed in the
power of our people . . . our farmers. All the institutions I have been fortunate to be associated with
believed in the power of our people," he said. "Amul today is the largest food business in India, with an
annual turnover of over Rs 3,500 (Rs 35 billion) crores. But, to me, Amul is a manifestation of what the
small and marginal dairy farmers and landless labourers can achieve when they are given proper
leadership and direction. Unfortunately, under the present liberalisation era, governments seem to give
step-motherly treatment to peoples' organisations like co-operatives!"

"IRMA was set up to support institutions like Amul. Today, there are more than 11 million co-operative
dairy farmers all over India under the Amul-Model dairy co-operatives. Dairying has become the single
largest contributor to the agricultural economy of India, besides being the largest rural employment
provider." "I stepped down from the chairmanship of NDDB in 1998, after being its Founder-Chairman for
33 years. But I never drew any salary from NDDB as I always wanted to be an employee of the farmers,
rather than the government." "Recently I resigned as the chairman of GCMMF after being its founder-
chairman for 32 years, but having been elected unanimously each year. The highest monthly salary I ever
drew from GCMMF was Rs 5,000 that too I stopped drawing 24 years ago when I reached the age of 60."
"And today I announce my decision to resign from the chairmanship of IRMA Board of Governors. I will be
sending my resignation when the IRMA board meets on June 8, 2006."

"To those who have not been so happy in my continuing in office, I only want to say one thing. Whatever
positions I have held since my reaching the age of 60 were all honorary and elected positions. I enjoyed
serving the organizations I helped to set up, because a large number of people wanted me to continue to
serve the nation. But now, there are some people who are restless to occupy the positions I have held
and waiting for my exit."

"I wish them well. But I hope they will not tinker with the fundamental principles on which these institutions
were built, nurtured and brought to their present stature," he concluded. With inputs from PTI

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