Prabhat Kamal bezboruah 1st non-IAS to head tea board
KOLKATA : Renowned (प्रसिद्ध) tea planter from Assam Prabhat Kamal Bezboruah, who was once a banker in the US, has been named the new chairman of the Tea Board of India, said a Union government release late on Thursday. With this, Bezboruah becomes the first non-IAS and an industry insider to be at the helm of the Kolkata-headquartered Tea Board, the governing body of the industry. Renowned coffee grower M S Boje Gowda was appointed as chairman of the Coffee Board. Talking to TOI right after the Union government notification, Bezboruah said: "My main job will be to fetch(लाना) a better primary product price, which will pave the way for the industry's revival. In 1954, one kilo of tea was priced Rs 7, which is selling at Rs 140 a kg on average - a mere 20% jump. But look at other agricultural produce like rice. It used to sell at 20 paise a kilo which now commands at least Rs 20 per kg - a huge 200% jump on average. So, there must be a structural defect in the way our industry has been functioning. I will try helping the industry overcome this problem." Bezboruah, who is also the owner of at least 6-7 top-rung tea gardens (Bokahola, Saotali, Longbari, etc) in Assam, also stressed on the higher cost of production, social responsibilities, labour problems and wage woes, which are plaguing the industry. The new Board chief, who is around 50 years of age, is also the current head of the Tea Research Association (TRA) and has served two to three terms as the chairman of Assam Tea Planters' Association.
Under a recent Union government gazette notification, all agricultural boards under the ministry of commerce will be headed by a non-IAS and industry person while the vice-chairman will be an IAS and have the executive authority. According to Bezboruah, he would be playing more of a non-executive advisory(सलाहकार) role to the deputy chairman.
All industry bodies like Indian Tea Association (ITA) and CTTA and top brokers have welcomed the move. Krishan Katyal, chairman of J Thomas and Company, world's oldest and largest tea auction house, told TOI: "Mr Bezboruah's appointment is a historic milestone, as this position has traditionally been held only by senior bureaucrats. It is most heartening that the ministry has, in its wisdom, chosen a truly exceptional, knowledgeable and experienced industry leader to chair the Board."
Anshuman Kanoria, chairman, Calcutta Tea Traders Association (CTTA),said, "The tea industry is faced with a plethora of challenges and it is a fantastic and commendable decision by the Centre to appoint a seasoned and knowledgeable tea person such as Bezboruah. The industry will benefit from having a reasoned voice within the Board who can articulate the issues facing the Tea Industry and pro-actively guide policy towards a healthy future for Indian Tea and all its stakeholders." Atanoo Baroowa, MD at Associated Brokers' Pvt Ltd, said, "This person knows the problems of the industry. He is dynamic and a good listener. So, things will definitely change for good."
Bezboruah will have a tenure till November 1, 2018 and Gowda will be in the post till December 14, 2018, it said.