The Amul Man leaves ‘white’ legacy behind
He made the ordinary, neighbourhood doodhwala a key player in the country's struggle for economic development and progress at the grassroots level. Verghese Kurien, the man who brought milk revolution in the country, died on Sunday in Gujarat.
He was instrumental in laying the foundation of democratic enterprises at the remote villages and far-flung hamlets, which ensured economic justice. And, it was done with people's voluntary participation.
Honoured as the architect of India's White Revolution, which earned catapulted India to be the world's largest milk producer, Kurien managed the feat in the 1970s at a time when the country faced grim uncertainties over its food security.
Kurien was the founder-chairperson of the National Dairy Development Board from 1965 to 1998 and also the chairperson of the Gujarat Co-Operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd from 1973 to 2006. He helped set up the Institute of Rural Management and dedicated his life to the cause of empowering humble Indian farmers through co-operatives.
The current GCMMF managing director R S Sodhi said, 'He strongly believed that by placing technology and professional management in the hands of the farmers, the living standards of millions of rural poor could be improved.'
Born on 26 November 1921 in Kozhikode, Kerala, Kurien graduated from Loyola College in 1940 and later completed engineering from Guindy College of Engineering, Chennai. But, it was after a brief stint at TISCO that he obtained a government of India scholarship to study dairy engineering.
Having acquired specialised training at the Imperial Institute of Animal Husbandry and Dairying in Bangalore, Kurien went to the US and completed his masters in Mechanical Engineering with dairy engineering as a minor subject from the Michigan State University, in 1948.
A year later, he was assigned to a government creamery in Anand, Gujarat, as part of his bond commitment. Arriving in Anand on a hot 13 May 1949, Kurien was a harried man, only waiting to be released from his bond and leave the place as quickly as possible.
He got his release orders after six months and was all set to pack up and go to the city of big bucks, Bombay – but a minor incident halted him in his tracks.
Just as he was preparing his exit, Tribhuvandas Patel, the then chairperson of Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers Union, popularly known as Amul, with whom Kurien had developed a good friendship, requested him to stay back in Anand for some more time and help him organise his co-operative society's dairy equipment.
Kurien stayed back for a few more days, going on to become a legend through Operation Flood, launched in 1971.
'His forced tenure at Anand changed the destiny of the entire Indian dairy sector. He helped the fledgling dairy co-operative movement and was forced to stay there to see it flourish. The rest is history,' Sodhi said.