- I said to him right there in the Minister’s office “You bloody bastard. You come here, and speak lies to the Minister. I will castrate you”.[p.75]
- [In the IIMA board meeting while discussion why the graduates do not get motivated to work in development sector] “One of them [board member] took his cigar out of his mouth .. and said superciliously; So Dr. Kurien, you want our graduates to go and milk cows. I stood up, returned his look and said, “No, you continue to teach them how to suck on cigars.”[p.212]
“There is nothing wrong in building flyovers in Delhi. What is not fair is when we do not also build an approach road to villages across the nation. There is nothing wron in having fountains with coloured lights in the capital. After all, Delhi should be beautiful. But it is unjustified when we have not provided drinking water to all our villages…..” [p.83] “It was certainly true that the poorer the farmer, the greater the temptation for him to sell all the milk and earn more money for other essentials.. These arguments, however, hold no meaning for a starving man and it is unrealistic to say that this expensive food must be eaten by the poorest of our poor….”[p.147]This was the problem with Kurien’s eloquence. While I was moved to tears when I heard the first thundering on a Brahmin standing behind a Harijan in the queue to supply milk, it did not significantly change the social fabric of the village. Indeed later I realized that this rule not only applies to milk supply but also to cinema tickets.. So it was not always true that eloquence won over reason. Certainly not in the long run. From a stage where more than 800 employees of NDDB tendering their resignation in solidarity with their chairman when the controversy over operation flood broke out, to walking out alone from an office which he reigned like an emperor without dissent is indeed a sad picture. Somewhere down the line, it appears that he got blinded by his conviction. It appears that he could not make a transition to an action hero to a character actor. It was the Dev Anand in him that kept him going an he never looked at a path similar to Amitabh Bachchan. In a way he learnt nothing from Tribhuvandas Patel and Ravi Mathhai on how to reign over a place, while not being in office. This possibly is the hall mark of a fighter, that he continued to fight and never give up. His early training in Boxing was coming a full circle. My own personal moment of reckoning was a few years ago when I got a letter signed by the god himself inviting me to an academic seminar in IRMA to discuss the issue of Joint Ventures that NDDB was trying to implement. There were two days of deliberations, with arguments for and against, with the NDDB representative pleading that they would be happy to seek guidance from Kurien and were continuing to listen to him. At the end of the workshop I found that Kurien went and addressed the press about his own views on the subject. It was presented as if it was the consensus arrived at the workshop, while his address to the press had nothing in common with the deliberations. I felt badly let down by my hero. I felt used [not that my name or opinion was anything to reckon with, but it was indeed an insult to several people who had gathered there in all earnestness to discuss the issue on merit]. I was in tears because the hero had suddenly appeared very vulnerable. He was losing it and was not willing to look at it. A sadder day was to follow. This was the day when he quit the position from the Gujarat Federation and they magnanimously agreed to retain his perks – a car for him and his wife, and a cook at his home. They just issued the orders that his assistant [who was on the rolls of the federation] be transferred to Kolkata. Not an honourable gesture to somebody who has laid his life at the service of people of an alien land. But how does Dr.Kurien react? Not be sending back the other perks, not by saying “enough is enough, I do not need any further favours from you” but by pleading that his assistant be retained. By arguing like a little child “you promised me all perks and Joseph is a part of the package..” Certainly not a sight that his princes wanted to see of the Emperor. I only wish that the history will not be written by the last few years of Dr.Kurien which undermines the glorious golden years of his early life. I remember somebody telling me that Dr. Chotani who was an able lieutinent to Kurien wanted his building to be included in what was called the Kurien enclave in Anand though it did not fall into the natural boundary, just because he could have the name Kurien in his address… What an unnecessary fall. I hope this fall does not hurt him…… Cross Posted in Kannada at ಕನ್ನಡವೇ ನಿತ್ಯ.