A case of Paradoxical Thinking– A Tyranny

A Case Of Paradoxical Thinking - A Tyranny

Prof. Amit Shrivastava

Specialization: Marketing, Strategy and General Management

Binani (a name to a person) was overjoyed. The government was going to give him a miraculous cow that would help him get out of poverty. The cow will be fertilized with Jersey sperm imported in from Pune and other locations. As a result, he could become the proud owner of multiple bulls and high yield milch cows over time. A scheduled tribe from a village habitat, was even more appreciative later. He had been awarded an acre of land for free by the government. He was to plant fodder trees on this to supply feed for the livestock he would soon own. In his community, there were around 40 such beneficiaries. And many more in other settlements. They had been singled out by the government for a big dairy development programme aimed at alleviating poverty. The recipients were overjoyed to find that they would be paid minimum wage to labor on the free land, planting fodder trees. The project initiated in 80s and in full swing towards the end of the decade. The whole proposal was well received, and everyone participated with excitement. A syndicate was setup to work, and the participants were a leading corporate house, a firm operating in agro sector, an NGO and nationalized bank to fund the whole project.

The village/s area targeted was one of the poorest in the state and drought prone. The authorities, like everyone else involved in the operation, were bullish on achieving their goal. The goal was to develop a superior cow breed. Impurities of any kind in the breeding process was not received well. Hence, the questions were how could it be ensured that all the cows belonged to the beneficiaries received just Jersey sperm? What if the cows mated with bulls from the local area? This problem weighed heavily on everyone’s thoughts.

They made the decision to keep the cows away from mating with the local bulls. This would safeguard the future race's purity. As per the local people, a large castration drive was carried out on local bulls, so that they could not impregnate the cows. The responsibility to castrate the bull was diligently performed by the cattle inspector of the area. Then the team settled with artificial insemination of cows with the imported jersey semen in the expectation of developing high-yielding breeds of cows. The project review after two years and an investment of over two crores reported that just about 10 cross bred calves borne, there was no extra milk produced due to poor calf births. The effects are even more striking a decade later: numerous villages in are without a single stud bull. The castration campaign has wiped out the native bull—at least in this area. There are no more bulls in this village. The calves born were also weak and died and the remaining were sold. Overall, the milk productivity was nil for the farmer.

The villagers' initial enthusiasm stemmed from the project's provision of pay employment was also waning. The fodder tree sown yielded very well in the beginning for one cycle however once cut to be used as a fodder, it never grew. The soil experts finally gave the verdict that this soil is just not suited for this fodder crop in this area. What is most shaking that their employment is just over. The catastrophe has been massive. The land has been returned to the government and is currently lying un-ploughed left for a period without being sown to restore its fertility.  

Cattle have traditionally been kept in considerable numbers across the region. This area has one of the greatest cow populations in the state, if not all of India. Peasants compensate for agricultural losses by selling two or three head of cattle during lean years. This is their only kind of protection. As a result, the extinction of the species has wreaked havoc on an already vulnerable economy. The bull breed almost extinct by mass castrations by the end of the decade.

In one of the earlier studies by a nationally acclaimed research organization corroborated that the average milk productivity of the original breed was conveniently about five liters a day but now due to castration drive of native bull and artificial insemination the cows yield is substantially low and several former excess milk producers have been devastated and are now milk purchasers.

In the erstwhile years, the dalda (a brand of vegetable ghee) was pricier than ghee in this region. Previously, the bull buyers would come to this village/s to buy the local stud bulls to improve the breeds across the state, however now they don’t exist.

One of the goals of such plans is to reduce migration, however, due to the drop in cattle wealth has prompted more people to leave the area. Social and economic development is difficult when huge groups of people leave during the non-agricultural season. The schools are deserted because their children accompany the migrants. Jobs on local initiatives are in short supply of labor. Since individuals require income protection during non-productive season or drought. In addition, if the money is generated during non-agricultural seasons. They wouldn't have to migrate then. This whole project had the opposite effect.

Why, therefore, did so many peasants rush to sign up for the initiative even before it started? Many people were receiving their first acre of land. Jobs were once scarce in this area. Work possibilities appeared to be available now. For the first time in the region's history, the minimum wage was really paid and that too for working on your own property as well. As a result, peasants rushed to get into it at the beginning. The project's managers considered this as conclusive proof of its effectiveness. It confirmed that their concept was correct.

It informed them that their understanding was sound. The persons who have been identified as beneficiaries are never consulted. Was there any interest in a dairy project in this area? The authorities were never aware that individuals were looking for work rather than fodder farming. Yet, time and time again, similar errors are made. No one in power ever examined the assertions of the sponsoring agencies critically. Nobody queried why a dairy project was needed in a milk surplus area. The state had granted the peasants land on which to raise cattle fodder. Why not give them land so they can grow their own food? Some of the 'beneficiaries' did it anyhow in the beginning. They grew produce. This irritated the specialists, who summoned them and admonished. Authorities cautioned them that the minimal pay was only available if they planted fodder rather than food. Such behaviour jeopardized a major experiment aimed at alleviating poverty. The beneficiaries are stripped off fodder, food and neither cattle, milk nor even land.

An initiative to resurrect the bull is being planned by an NGO. That is, if they can identify studs in crucial areas and procure them elsewhere. They also want to educate people about it. Will it be as vital to educate the authorities. Why?