Convocation     Chief Guest Dr. Amrita Patel

Dr. Amrita Patel: Chairman, National Dairy Development Board
Dr. Amrita Patel is the Chairman of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and Founder and Chairman of the Foundation for Ecological Security (FES). She serves on the boards of several organizations in the fields of nature conservation, poverty alleviation, improvement of living conditions and shaping of autonomous peoples’ institutions.

As the Managing Director and later as Chairman of National Dairy Development Board, Dr. Patel was responsible for the implementation of Operation Flood, a national dairy development program of an unparalleled scale. The program has helped to promote, finance and deliver a variety of supporting services to a national cooperative dairy structure that presently includes more than 13 million members, mostly small farmers, from nearly 100,000 village dairy cooperative societies, contributing to an increase in per capita availability of milk in India from some 106 grams per day in 1967 to more than 258 grams per day in 2009.

It was Dr. Patel’s vision that led to the setting up of the Foundation for Ecological Security - an organisation that would reinforce the critical task of restoration of ecological processes that improve and sustain the biological productivity of land and help ameliorate the living conditions of the poor. Under her Chairmanship, the Foundation for Ecological Security has in the past few years grown to secure the cooperation of 1830 villages across six states of India, reaching out to about a million people and bringing about 107,000 hectares of ‘public lands’ and forestlands under community governance.

Besides her presence on the Boards and Committees of several national and international bodies, Dr. Patel works closely with both policy makers and civil society organizations on issues relating to conservation of forests, strengthening community institutions, improving rural livelihoods and accessing property rights to community land, to improve the living conditions of the rural poor.

Dr Amrita Patel was born on November 13, 1943 at Vidyanagar village in Kheda district of south Gujarat. She completed her secondary school from Convent of Jesus and Mary, New Delhi in 1958. She did her bachelor’s in veterinary science and honours in agriculture from the Bombay Veterinary College in 1965.

Dr Patel has also successfully completed advanced training in animal nutrition at the Rowett Research Institute, Aberdeen, the UK under an FAO Fellowship from October 1966 to March 1968. After completing advanced training in animal nutrition, Dr Patel joined Kheda District Cooperative Milk Producers' Union Limited in their cattle feed factory at Kanjari as animal nutrition officer in November 1965.

She joined the National Dairy Development Board as project executive in 1971. During the same period she was given a special assignment to assist the Achievement Audit Committee for the National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal. In 1983, Dr Patel was appointed additional secretary, NDDB and regional head of Indian Dairy Corporation in Delhi. In 1986, she was appointed as chief executive of NDDB. In 1988, she was appointed as managing director (operations). She also worked as additional secretary in the ministry of agriculture from June 19, 1989. In September 1990, she took over as managing director of NDDB.

Dr Patel also held the post of chairperson of nine major institutions in the fields of dairying, animal disease and prevention, animal nutrition, financial institutions and human health. She has been on the managing committees of 15 other institutions and organizations.

She was the managing director of NDDB for about ten years. She had also held several high-profile posts in different categories in the NDDB and at the secretary level in the government offices.

Dr. Patel received several awards at national and international levels. In 2001, Dr Patel was conferred “Padmabhushan” by the Government of India for her contribution to animal husbandry. In 2008, Dr. Amrita Patel was awarded the Indira Gandhi Paryavaran Puraskar, the prestigious award instituted by the Government of India in the name of the former Prime Minister, which recognizes the contribution of the recipient towards creating greater awareness among the people of the country on the need to preserve their natural environment. She received the ‘Dr. Norman Borlaug Award’ for contributions in the field of dairy development and animal husbandry and for the leadership and dynamism shown in creating sustainable peoples’ institutions to meet their needs for fuel and fodder. She was awarded the ‘International Person of the Year’ for the year 1997 by the World Dairy Expo, Inc., Madison, Wisconsin, USA for commitment to improve India's rural health and environment and for efforts to foster better animal husbandry and increase producer productivity and incomes.