Verghese Kurien is more popularly renowned as the ‘Father of the White Revolution in India’. He was the great social entrepreneur who was the mastermind behind ‘Operation Flood’, a billion-litre idea that redefined the future of the dairy industry in India. When India was struggling to meet its daily requirements, Dr Verghese incepted an idea that became the world’s largest agricultural dairy development programme and also made India the largest producer of milk in the world. The efforts of Dr Verghese Kurien were commemorated by declaring his birthday as the ‘National Milk Day’ in India. Read on if you want to know about the journey and some interesting facts about this great and incredible leader.
Early life of Dr. Verghese Kurien
Verghese Kurien was born in Calicut to a Syrian Christian family. Being a bright student he chose to pursue a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering in the U.S. in the year 1949. After returning from the U.S. he started working for an experimental creamery, a Government of India’s initiative in Gujarat. Kurien carried most of his experiments in Anand, a place in Gujarat’s Kaira district. During that time Anand was the place where Polson, a dairy company operated by a Parsi businessman, Pestonjee Edulji was operating in full swing. A clever and shrewd businessman that he was, Pestonjee manipulated even the Government officials to become the king of the dairy industry and started monopolizing the market. He used to sell at higher prices and even exploited the farmers.
When Verghese Kurien became aware of this upsetting state of monopolised milk production he was immensely moved and it was then that the seeds of the movement were sown. Kurien promised himself to bring a change not only in the miserable state of farmers but he also decided that he would not leave any stone unturned to make India the largest producer of dairy in the world. He started working for the empowerment of farmers and it was in 1970 that he finally launched Operation Flood; a social reformation that made India meets its dairy requirement adequately. Against tremendous odds, Verghese Kurien single-handedly led the White Revolution in India that ended the monopolisation in the dairy market.
Interesting Facts about Verghese Kurien
The innovative ideas and perseverance of Dr Verghese Kurien for the betterment of the dairy industry earned him the title of the ‘Milkman of India’. He was also the founder of Amul that emerged to become one of India’s largest milk producing companies. Amul or Anand Milk Union Limited was first established as a cooperative and was referred to as Amulya, meaning priceless. So you now know whom to remember when you delightfully have your milk, bread and butter. Take a look at some of the interesting facts about Dr Verghese Kurien that will leave you amazed.
1. Amul, the brainchild of Dr Kurien was started with 2 cooperatives that produced 247 litres of milk. Over years, the company has witnessed phenomenal growth with over 1,44,246 cooperatives and 15 million milk producers.
2. During his earlier experiments, Kurien looked upon ways to use buffalo milk to produce milk powder. After several failed efforts he was successful in establishing the first milk powder plant in India in the year 1955. This plant was inaugurated by Pt Jawaharlal Nehru.
3. The fruitful results of Operation Flood made 72,000 Indian villages as milk producers.
4. Amul was started with 2 cooperatives that produced 247 litres of milk. Over years, the company has witnessed phenomenal growth with over 1,44,246 cooperatives and 15 million milk producers.
5. The While Revolution initiated by him also led to the growth of Mother Dairy.
6. He was also the founder and Chairman of renowned institutions like NDDB (National Dairy Development Board) and GCMMF (Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd).
7. Shyam Benegal directed a movie ‘Manthan’ based on India’s milk cooperative movement and Dr. Kurien was the man behind it. It was on his request that every farmer contributed 2 rupees when the film was not being completed for the lack of funds.
8. Dr. Verghese Kurien was rightfully honoured by prestigious awards like Padamshri (1965), Padmabhushan (1966), Krishi Ratna (1986) and Padma Vibhushan (1999).
9. His commendable work earned him appreciation worldwide. Kurien was also awarded an honorary degree by the Michigan State University in the year 1965. Later in 1991 he became the Distinguished Amulini of the same university.
10. Besides this he was also bestowed with other prestigious International awards. In the year 1993, the World Dairy Expo felicitated him with the International Person of the Year Award.
11. Verghese Kurien also penned a book ‘I Too Had A Dream’. The book highlighted about farmer’s empowerment and establishment of milk cooperatives in India.
12. Verghese Kurien left for heavenly abode in the year 2012. He died at the age of 90 in Gujarat after suffering from a brief spell of illness.
These were some of the lesser known facts about Verghese Kurien. Dr Kurien was not just any other businessman, he left an impactful message behind that you can even earn profits by benefitting the society. Wish even the present generation of entrepreneur and businessmen could learn something from this great man. Dr Verghese Kurien will always remain alive in our hearts and his movement, the White Revolution is still working for the upliftment of the Indian farmers. This post was truly an ode to this magnetic personality.