India’s milkman Verghese Kurien passes away
AHMEDABAD: Milkman Verghese Kurien who created country’s most respected brand Amul passed away after prolonged illness on Sunday after prolonged illness. He was 90 and survived by his wife Molly and daughter Nirmala. Kurien was spending his life in Anand after he resigned from all the institutions he promoted by 2007.
He is the man who almost single-handedly spearheaded Operation Flood , guiding India – then a milk-deficient nation – in its journey to becoming the world’s largest producer of milk.
Dr Verghese Kurien, the man behind India’s White Revolution, passed away early on Sunday morning following a brief spell of illness in Nadiad, Gujarat. He was 90.
“At my age, one does not really have a future. One only has a past.” Kurien chose to begin his memoirs ‘I too had a dream’ (2005) with this comment, his answer to a journalist who had asked him about his future plans.
But history stands testimony to the fact that Kurien’s achievements over his nearly sixdecade long career in public service have contributed significantly to the country’s future.
As does the nation and international recognition that came his way. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan and also received the World Food prize, Ramon Magsaysay award for community leadership, Carnegie Wateler World Peace prize and International Person of the Year award from the US.
Kurien, the man who made Amul (Anand Milk Union Limited) a force to be reckoned with, was born on November 26, 1921, in Kozhikode, Kerala.
He pursued MSc at Michigan State University on a government scholarship before returning to India in 1949, when he was posted at a government creamery in Anand.
As this was part of a bond he had signed with the government, the stint in Anand wasn’t supposed to last more than a few years.
But Kurien’s love affair with the small town continued for decades to come, ending only with his death in the neighbouring Nadiad.
“Given his deep bond with Anand, Kurien would have liked it that way (to die in Anand),” said former director of the National Institute of Design, Ashok Chatterjee, whose acquaintance with Kurien dates back to the 1960s.
He recalls Kurien as a “dynamic person, who never took no for an answer”. And it is this very dynamism that Kurien brought to the Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Limited, when he joined it in 1949, on the request of Tribhuvandas Patel, the then dairy chairman.
The dairy was formed at the initiative of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. Later, Patel asked Kurien to help set up a dairy processing plant, which saw the birth of Amul. Amul’s cooperative model became a success and it was replicated throughout Gujarat.
Kurien then brought the different dairy unions under the banner of Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) in 1973.
Today the GCMMF, which markets Amul, is a company with a turnover of Rs 13,000 crore (2011-12). It comprises 15 district unions involving over 30 lakh farmers across around 16,000 villages in Gujarat.
One of his significant achievements, though, was the empowerment of rural women by connecting them with the cooperative move ment, freeing them and milk farmers at large, from the exploitative clutches of middlemen.