Verghese Kurien started India’s white revolution and made it big and laid foundation of Co-operative dairy model which is providing milk now all over the country. Cut to 1949, a young man fresh out of a university in the US, came to the government creamery in Anand, in Gujarat. Little did he know that he would change the place forever, and put it on the world map. The times were not much different. Per capita milk consumption was nothing to talk about and exploitation was the fate of the milkman. However, much water (read milk) has flown down the Narmada since then. Kurien started off with his experience to work with the manager of the local Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union to build an in-house processing plant and organise the cooperative to handle its own marketing directly to consumers.
After years of initial struggle, the cooperative began to produce dramatic results, involving over two million farmers. This led to the birth of Amul, the largest food product business in India whose turnover has already crossed the $2 billion mark. Based on the cooperative’s successes, the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, a friend of farmers, created the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in 1965 to replicate the model nationally. The Prime Minister cited Kurien’s “extraordinary and dynamic leadership” upon naming him chairman of the Board. Kurien came saw and conquered the Milky way and he is the father of Amul products.
Dr Kurien’s work has received tremendous national and international recognition. The Indian government conferred on him the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest honour. He is also the recipient of the World Food Price, the Ramon Magsaysay award for Community Leadership, the Carnegie – Wateler World Peace Prize and the International Person of the Year award from the US. He dedicated his life to the welfare of Gujarat’s cattle owners and turned the state’s dairy co-operative sector into one of the most successful cooperative models in the world. Veteran film-maker Shyam Benegal directed the movie ‘Manthan’, a story set in the cooperative milk movement in India. Not able to finance it, Benegal was helped by Dr Kurien who gave an idea of getting each of his half a million member farmers to contribute a token two rupees for the making of the movie. Upon its release, truckloads of farmers came to see their film, making it a success at the box office. Dr. Kurien brought white revolution in India and that helped people to stand in long ques for getting a packet of milk. An achievement to behold. We in India enjoy the benefit of white revolution and getting sufficient milk for our routine activities. We are really self-sufficient and look at Dr. Kurien with a folded hands for his great deed.