Nandini vs Amul: For whom is actor Kichha Sudeep campaigning? Well, that’s not what I want to talk about. I wish to highlight an incident. A few months back, a row had broken out between Sudeep and Bollywood actor Ajay Devgn. They locked horns over language. Devgn’s message was all clear: downplaying Hindi would not be tolerated. But, here is a catch.
What did the major political establishments down south choose to do? They stood by the Kannada actor. Basically, they agreed that Hindi is not a national language. Despite Article 351 still being a part of the Constitution of India, which clearly states that it is the duty of the Union to promote the spread of Hindi and develop it,
Am I talking about Hindi? NO! Here, I want to focus on the underlying emotion that forces a BJP CM to downplay Hindi; it’s called sub-nationalism. Hindi, despite being spoken in multiple states ranging from Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Bihar, and Delhi, has no one laying claim to it, or you may say that Hindu doesn’t evoke the same sub-nationalistic sentiments as other regional languages of India do. Which state has its own flag? Well, Karnataka has, and the entire emotion behind the Amul Nandini fiasco is sub-nationalism.
Amul vs Nandini row kicks off in Karnataka
Just before the assembly elections, a new tug-of-war Nandini vs Amul has begun in the state of Karnataka between two dairy titans, Amul and Nandini. The milk and dairy market is on a boil in Karnataka over the entry of the country’s largest dairy cooperative, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF)—popularly known by its brand Amul—which attempted to enter the state.
So, who is angry? It’s the Amul peer from Bengaluru-Karnataka Milk Federation (KMF), with Nandini being the face, the popularly consumed dairy brand in the southern state. All this happened after Amul’s decision to introduce milk and curds in the Bengaluru market.
With their mother brands Amul and Nandini (KMF), respectively, GCMMF and KMF are both leaders in their respective industries and enjoy great consumer recall and a devoted following of customers. Both were born in rural households in the 1940s and 1950s and have since experienced exponential growth. Amul is the largest brand in the country with record collection, processing, and selling power, having the largest market share. But Nandini dominates the state market completely.
So can Amul go and capture all the market that Nandini owns? The simple and complicated answers are a big NO! The reason being that Nandini’s products are much more affordable and cheaper as compared to Amul. One of the main reasons Nandini is able to provide its customers with services at such a lower cost than Amul is because the state government provides incentives to its milk farmers. KMF was established in 1974 with funding from the World Bank and comes directly under the Ministry of Cooperation in Karnataka.
Amul MD Jayen Mehta himself agrees upon the same. He says, “Nandini has an edge over Amul in terms of pricing. Hence, we won’t be able to compete with Nandini in retail even for the next 10 years. When it comes to e-commerce, every sector has a market share of less than 5 percent.” So, what’s the issue? The same thing happens around the world: politics.
Nandini vs Amul: Congress and JD(S) turn into a political slugfest
As soon as Amul entered the market in Bengaluru, a boycott call was issued. Hashtags like boycott Amul and go back to Amul were circulated. The Bruhat Bengaluru Hotel Association called upon all hotel owners to boycott Amul products and use the ‘state’s pride, Nandini, to support dairy farmers in Karnataka, thus resulting in a total boycott by hoteliers in the state. In addition to the boycott call, the Karnataka administration has come under fire from opposition politicians for allegedly harming the “state’s pride,” the Nandini brand.
Opposition leaders in Karnataka, including Congressmen DK Shivakumar and Siddaramaiah and HD Kumaraswamy of the JD(S), have accused the Basavaraj Bommai government in Karnataka of giving ‘back door’ entry to Amul’s products, which spells trouble for the local brand Nandini. On Monday, KPCC president Shivakumar also visited a Nandini shop in Hassan to purchase its products as a symbolic gesture of supporting the local brand.
BJP’s attempt to end ‘Licence Raj’ in Karnataka’s dairy sector
The same fiasco was seen earlier when Union Home Minister Amit Shah inaugurated a mega dairy of the Mandya Milk Union. Shah had then said that the leaders of the cooperative dairy sectors in Gujarat and Karnataka, Amul and Nandini, can come together to work towards the welfare of the country’s milk producers and thereby help in introducing the white revolution across the country.
Shah added that the Cooperation Ministry at the Centre will be extending all technical assistance to the Karnataka Milk Federation. Along with that, he also vowed support from the management of Amul. Shah had then said that the two brands had the potential to change the fortunes of the country.
Then too, the opposition in Karnataka had come out warning Shah that the union government would have to face serious consequences if it attempted to undermine Nandini and shove it under Amul. CM Basavaraj Bommai had to come out himself to rule out speculations of a merger of Nandini and Amul, saying that Nandini will maintain its separate identity in the coming hundred years.
The opposition, then, getting furious, had a direct link. The new dairy that was inaugurated was in Mandya, which happens to be Vokkaliga heartland, who have traditionally supported the JD(S) and whose support the BJP is eyeing.
Nandini vs Amul; Politics to gain the support of MILK-UNIONS
Nothing in India is done for politics, but everything that’s done decides the politics. Why do I say this? It’s because milk cooperatives indeed have a strong hold on the rural belt and influence more than 50 seats in the Old Mysuru region, deemed to be an impregnable fortress of JD(S) and Congress.
Political analyst A. Narayana explains the political significance of milk unions. It says, “Beyond the money and prestige, it’s the large membership base that parties are looking to cultivate.” Why so? It’s because 16 milk unions spread across 22,000 villages with 24 lakh members give the sector a powerful voice that is coveted by parties looking to establish a grass-roots presence. So, can waking up just before the elections help Congress and the JD(S) woo the milk union? No, to gain political support you need to work hard on the ground, which the party has surely missed.
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