Remembering Verghese Kurien, Who Pioneered White Revolution in India
Verghese Kurien was born on November 26, 1921 in Kerala-died on September 9, 2012 in Gujarat. Mr Verghese was a social entrepreneur and well-known as the ‘Father of the White Revolution in India’, which transformed the country from an importer of dairy products to the world’s largest milk producer through a system of farmer cooperatives.
He was born to a wealthy Syrian Christian (refer to the total Christian population of Kerala) Family in Calicut, (now Kozhikode) Kerala. His father, Puthenparakkal Kurien, was a civil surgeon in British Cochin and his mother was highly educated and an exceptional piano player. On government scholarship, Mr Kurien pursued his Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering in the United States of America. After completing his studies, he returned to India and headed to Anand, where he was supposed to spend five years as an officer of the Dairy division in return for the scholarship paid by the government.
Milk Cooperative Movement
At Anand, he observed that the entire region was controlled by the founder of the Polson brand ‘Pestonjee Edulji’. This scenario of Anand led Dr Kurien to join forces with Tribhuvandas Patel, who was thriving to unite the farmers and form a cooperative movement. Further, Dr Kurien, along with Tribhuvandas and the farmers, started the Milk Cooperative movement in the region registered under Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd (KDCMPUL), which was later renamed “AMUL”. He worked towards bringing a White Revolution in India and executed the programme “Operation Flood” to increase milk production while augmenting rural incomes and keeping prices within reach for consumers through the expansion of the cooperative movement. Under his inspiring leadership, many important institutions were established, namely the GCMMF (Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd) and NDDB (National Dairy Development Board), which played a significant role in shaping the Dairy Cooperative movement across the country.
Foundation of the dairy – AMUL:
The world’s first production of milk powder from the abundant buffalo milk instead of from conventional cow milk was the key invention at Amul. The process of skimmed milk powder was invented by H. M.Dalaya batchmate of Dr Kurien’s from America. As per the dairy experts, that was impossible at that time. This is one of the reasons for Amul’s success. Later Dr G. H. Wilster led to producing cheese from buffalo milk at Amul. Thus at Amul, dairy farmers are linked directly to consumers in the market. In 1964, Dr Kurien showed Lal Bahadur Shastri how his dairy works and was very impressed. As a result, in 1965 Prime Minister tasked Kurien to replicate the dairy’s Anand pattern nationwide. In addition, that is why the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) was founded under Kurien on his conditions. Shastri also took Kurien’s help to set the government’s mismanaged Delhi Milk Scheme right. International experts were also fascinated by Kurien’s work. He founded the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) to groom managers for cooperatives in 1979. He played a key role in setting up cooperatives across India and outside. In the same year, Premier Alexei Kosygin invited Kurien to the Soviet Union for advice on cooperatives there. Pakistan also invited him to set up dairy cooperatives. He went there to lead World Bank Mission. China also implemented its own Operation Flood with the help of Kurien. Kurien died due to a brief spell of illness at the age of 90 on 9th September at Nadiad hospital near Anand. His conviction of turning the impossible into possible won him many accolades. He is one of the greatest people in the cooperative movement in the world, and his work has lifted millions out of poverty in India and outside. Dr Verghese Kurien will always be remembered as the person who redefined the meaning of milk as a powerful tool for economic development.
Future Plans of Amul: “Amul’s expansion plans are based on how much milk we will be getting. Generally, every year there is an expansion of Rs800 crore to Rs1,000 crore. We are getting 9 per cent more milk, which means 25 lakh litres. That means an investment of Rs1,000 crore. We are investing in Gujarat and outside in various product categories”, said R.S. Sodhi, managing director of Amul.
Further, he added, “A Rs500-crore dairy is coming up in Rajkot; the state is allocating land. Within two years, big dairy plants will also come up in Bagpat, near Delhi, Varanasi, Rohtak and Kolkata. The total investment would be between Rs300 crore and Rs500 crore”.
On the 75th year of its cooperative movement, Amul has clocked a group turnover of Rs 61,000 crore for the financial year (FY) 2021-22, further consolidating its position as the largest food and FMCG brand in India.