Politics of 'Amul' vs 'Nandini' controversy in Karnataka

Politics of 'Amul' vs 'Nandini' controversy in Karnataka

Bhaga Warkhade

During the Karnataka assembly elections, a controversy has erupted between 'Amul', a brand name from Gujarat, and 'Nandini', a federation of milk unions in Karnataka, over the distribution of milk and milk products. Its nature is local versus foreign. This is not the first time that the two BJP-ruled states have clashed over milk collection and distribution; But Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have experienced how the elephant of 'Amul' once enters, it grabs the tent itself.
Amul, a federation of milk unions in the state of Gujarat, is marketing aggressively. George Varghese Kurian contributed a lot in the development of 'Amul'. So far the Congress was ruling this federation. No matter who is in power in Gujarat, the center or the state has helped the Sangh a lot. When Sharad Pawar was Union Agriculture Minister, he opposed Congress and helped Modi when he was in government in Gujarat. Modi has also mentioned it. Amul's products are exported to India and abroad. Their products are in great demand. Earlier, the milk of Gujarat was decreasing. That's why the federation there used to take milk from Maharashtra. Milk from Nagar, Nashik, Jalgaon and other districts used to go there. There was not much controversy until milk was taken from the unions of other states; But later when 'Amul' started its own collection centers in other states, the struggle started. As MNCs do anything to destroy small companies, so does 'Amul'. Once the monopoly is established, the method of this team is to start looting. Let go of other states; But the conflict that took place in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh over milk collection and farmers' money laundering, may have been over a decade and a half ago. Then Modi was the Chief Minister of Gujarat and Shivraj Singh Chouhan was the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh. Gujarat's Amul faced opposition from Madhya Pradesh. There was also a dispute in the court. Even in Maharashtra, Amul's business policy is to pay two rupees more per litre to attract milk producers and once monopoly is established, then they block the producers in the name of quality.


In Maharashtra, the milk producers are now having to pay the price of breaking up the cooperatives and building them into private ventures. It is the result of government policy. Now 'Amul' is collecting milk not only from nearby districts, but directly to Pune. Even if the milk collection of Nagar district alone is taken into consideration, it can be seen how 'Amul' became a monopoly. Amul has a share of 35 percent in the total milk collection collected in Nagar district. Sangamner, Parag and Prabhat share 65 percent. Although the market is open, it is indicated that the co-operatives should not interfere in each other's sphere of activity. It is true that Amul does not follow it.

Politics has heated up in Karnataka after online sales of Amul milk and yogurt started ahead of the assembly elections. A political battle has erupted in Karnataka over the country's largest brand of Amul milk with the tag line 'Pita Hai India'. Amul's launch of milk-yogurt in Karnataka is being seen as an entry into the territory of Karnataka Milk Federation's popular brand Nandini.


Congress has made this an election issue saying that this is a ploy to end Nandini, the biggest milk brand in Karnataka. As a result the hashtag 'Save Nandini Gokul Amul' started trending on 'Social Media'. In a public meeting held at Mandya on December 30, 2022, Union Home and Cooperation Minister Amit Shah announced the opening of dairies in every village of the state. Both 'Amul' and 'Nandini' will work together to start primary dairies in each village. After three years there will not be a single village in Karnataka without primary dairy farming. 'Bangalore Hotels Association' took a public stand against 'Amul' and announced that we will only use 'Nandini' milk. Farmers there also protested against 'Amul'. Congress leaders jumped into this movement. That's why the BJP panchayat was formed. As 'Amul' is the number one co-operative milk brand in the country, 'Nandini' is the number two brand in the country.


This battle between number one and number two is now on the road. Former Chief Minister of Karnataka Siddaramaiah appealed to the general public not to buy milk from Amul after the 'Bangalore Hotels Association' held a stand in support of Nandini. Referring to Shah's statement, he said that the BJP government wants to destroy Nandini, the largest milk brand in Karnataka. After this Karnataka Congress President D. K. Shivakumar tweeted, 'Our soil, water and milk are strong. We want to save our farmers and milk. We have 'Nandini' a better brand than 'Amul'. We don't need 'Amul'. Secular Janata Dal along with Congress jumped into this debate.


Former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy said, 'Central government wants to establish 'Amul' in Karnataka through the back door. Through 'Amul', BJP is strangling Karnataka Milk Federation and farmers. Kannada people should revolt against Amul. The Congress and the secular Janata Dal emotionalized the issue by linking it to Karnataka's identity and pride. The aggressive stance taken by the major opposition parties against the sale of 'Amul' has put the BJP and its government on the defensive in the state. Seeing that the sale of 'Amul' was becoming a political issue in the assembly elections in the state, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai had to take the initiative. He said that Congress is playing politics regarding Amul. 'Nandini' is a popular brand not only in Karnataka but across the country. It has been pointed out that our government has given subsidy of Rs.5 per liter to the farmers.


Yeddyurappa had given a subsidy of Rs 2 per liter of milk to the farmers associated with 'Nandini' when he was the Chief Minister. It has now been reduced to Rs.5. On this controversy, Amul Managing Director Jayen Mehta says that they are first taking their products to Karnataka through e-commerce i.e. online sales. They will not sell like other milk companies. We are not reducing our milk prices in Karnataka to hurt 'Nandini'. On this issue BC Satish, Managing Director of Karnataka Milk Federation says that when we have surplus milk, we cooperate with other cooperatives. This is called co-packing, we do this with Amul and other business groups. When we have excess milk, Amul buys paneer, cheese or other products from us.


On the other hand, a former official of the milk union, who disagreed with Amul's decision to sell milk-yogurt in Karnataka, says that cooperatives always have an unwritten agreement. That is, unless there is a shortage of product in one market, the other cooperative will not sell its product there. More than 2.6 lakh farmers and animal husbandry are associated with the Karnataka Milk Federation as per the states of Gujarat and Maharashtra. Dairy farmers and their families are the dominant vote bank for all political parties. If Gujarat's 'Amul' gets stronger there, it will benefit BJP. In any state, the BJP has a greater hold on voters in cities than in villages. There are about two lakh cooperative milk societies in the country. In such a situation, BJP wants the support of the voters in the villages through cooperative societies in Karnataka. There is a growing fear in Karnataka that the entry of 'Amul' in Karnataka will shock 'Nandini' and end its dominance in the Bangalore market.


It is not so easy for Amul to challenge Nandini in Karnataka. Because it is not possible to sell 'Amul' milk at the price at which 'Nandini' sells milk in the market there. Nandini's milk prices are very low compared to Amul's. Nandini's toned milk costs just Rs 39 per litre, contains 3 per cent fat and 8.5 per cent SNF (solid-not-fat). In comparison, the price of Amul's toned milk is Rs 52 per liter in Delhi and Rs 54 per liter in Gujarat. Nandini sells a 900 ml packet of full cream milk at just Rs 50 and a 450 ml packet of full cream milk at Rs 24. The price of 'Nandini' yogurt is only Rs 47 per kg, while the price of a 450 gram packet of 'Amul' yogurt is Rs 30, which means that the price of one kg of Amul yogurt has gone up to Rs 66 per kg. In this background, it is not possible for 'Amul' to compete with 'Nandini'.

'Nandini' vs 'Milma' - Karnataka has taken an aggressive stance against selling Amul's products. Meanwhile, 'Nandini' has started spreading in Kerala. 'Milma' is a famous brand in Kerala. Now 'Milma' has opposed the intervention of 'Nandini' in Kerala. Dairy sector costs are very high in Kerala as compared to other states. Milma supplies 83 percent milk to milk producers through cooperatives in its network. Apart from this, a major part of the increased amount of milk is given to the farmers in the form of additional concession on the price of milk and subsidy on animal feed.



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