||This article's tone or style may not reflect the encyclopedic tone used on Wikipedia. (September 2012)|
26 November 1921|
Calicut, Madras Presidency, British India
(now Kozhikode, Kerala)
|Died||9 September 2012
Nadiad, Gujarat, India
|Other names||"Milkman of India"|
|Alma mater||University of Madras
Michigan State University
|Occupation||Founder of Amul - Ex-Chairman GCMMF, NDDB, Institute of Rural Management Anand|
|Known for||Widely acclaimed as the "Father of the White revolution" in India|
|Awards||World Food Prize (1989)
Padma Vibhushan (1999)
Ramon Magsaysay Award (1963)
Verghese Kurien (26 November 1921 – 9 September 2012) was a renowned Indian social entrepreneur and is best known as the "Father of the White Revolution", for his 'billion-litre idea' (Operation Flood) — the world's biggest agricultural development programme. The operation took India from being a milk-deficient nation, to the largest milk producer in the world, surpassing the United States of America in 1998, with about 17 percent of global output in 2010–11, which in 30 years doubled the milk available to every person,. Dairy farming became India’s largest self-sustaining industry. He made the country self-sufficient in edible oils too later on, taking head-on the powerful and entrenched oil supplying lobby.
He founded around 30 institutions of excellence (like AMUL, GCMMF, IRMA, NDDB) which are owned, managed by farmers and run by professionals. As the founding chairman of the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), Kurien was responsible for the creation and success of the Amul brand of dairy products. A key achievement at Amul was the invention of milk powder processed from buffalo milk (abundant in India), as opposed to that made from cow-milk, in the then major milk producing nations. His achievements with the Amul dairy led Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri to appoint him as the founder-chairman of National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in 1965, to replicate Amul's "Anand model" nationwide.
One of the greatest proponents of the cooperative movement in the world, his work has alleviated millions out of poverty not only in India but also outside. Hailed as the "Milkman of India", Kurien won several awards including the Padma Vibhushan (India's second-highest civilian honour), the World Food Prize and the Magsaysay Award for community leadership.
Early life and education 
He graduated in Physics from Loyola College, Madras in 1940 and then obtained his Bachelors in mechanical engineering from the College of Engineering, Guindy affiliated to University of Madras. After completing his degree, he joined the Tata Steel Technical Institute, Jamshedpur from where he graduated in 1946. Subsequently, he went to the United States on a Government of India scholarship to earn a Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (Distinction) from Michigan State University in 1948.
Kurien arrived back from the United States to India on 13 May 1949, after his master's degree, and was quickly deputed to the Government of India's experimental creamery, at Anand in Gujarat's Kheda district by the government and rather half-heartedly served out his bond period against the scholarship given by them. He had already made up his mind to quit mid-way, but was persuaded to stay back at Anand by Tribhuvandas Patel (who would later share the Magsaysay with him) who had brought together Kheda's farmers as a cooperative union to process and sell their milk, a pioneering concept at the time.
He would brook no meddling from the political class or bureaucrats sitting in the capital cities, letting it be known upfront, though he, and his mentor and colleague, Tribhuvandas Patel were backed by the few enlightened political leaders and bureaucrats of the early Independence days who saw merit in their pioneering cooperative model.
Tribhuvandas Patel's sincere and earnest efforts inspired Kurien to dedicate himself to the challenging task before them, so much so, that when Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru was to visit Anand later, to inaugurate Amul's plant, he embraced Kurien for his groundbreaking work. Meanwhile, Kurien's buddy and dairy expert H. M. Dalaya, invented the process of making skim milk powder and condensed milk from buffalo milk instead of from cow milk. This was the reason Amul would compete successfully and well against Nestle which only used cow milk to make them. In India, buffalo milk is the main raw material unlike Europe where cow milk is abundant. The Amul pattern of cooperatives became so successful, that in 1965 Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, created the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) to replicate the program nationwide citing Kurien's "extraordinary and dynamic leadership" upon naming him chairman.
As the 'Amul dairy experiment' was replicated in Gujarat's districts in the neighbourhood of Anand, Kurien set all of them up under GCMMF in 1973 to sell the combined produce of the dairies under a single Amul brand. Today GCMMF sells Amul products not only in India but also overseas. He quit the post of GCMMF Chairman in 2006 following disagreement with the GCMMF management.
When the National Dairy Development Board expanded the scope of Operation Flood to cover the entire country in its Phase 2 program in 1979: Kurien founded the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA).Kurien, played a key role in many other organizations, like chairing the Viksit Bharat Foundation, a body set up by the President of India. Kurien was mentioned by the Ashoka Foundation as one of the eminent present Day Social Entrepreneurs. Kurien's life story is chronicled in his memoir I Too Had a Dream. Interestingly Kurien, the person who revolutionized the availability of milk in India did not drink milk himself. Nevertheless, the work of Kurien & his team in India took India from a milk importer to a milk & milk-products exporting nation within the span of 2 decades.
Personal life, family and beliefs 
Verghese married Molly and they had one daughter Nirmala Kurien and a grandson, Siddharth. He was an atheist. Verghese Kurien died on 9 September 2012 after a brief spell of illness in Nadiad, near Anand in Gujarat, India. He was 90. His wife Molly died on 14 December 2012 in Mumbai after a brief illness.
Film and its use in enlarging the movement 
Veteran film-maker Shyam Benegal, then an advertising executive with Lintas Advertising, produced Manthan (the churning of the 'milk ocean'), a story set in the cooperative milk movement in India. Not able to finance it, Benegal was helped by Kurien who hit upon 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. Manthan hit a chord with the audience immediately when it was shown in Gujarat in 1976, which impressed distributors to release it before audiences, nationwide. It was critically acclaimed and went on to win national awards the following year and was later shown on television to the public.
The movie's success gave Kurien another idea. Like shown in the film, a vet, a milk technician and a fodder specialist who could explain the value of cross-breeding of milch cattle would tour other parts of the country along with the film's prints, to woo farmers there to create cooperatives of their own.
UNDP would use the movie to start similar cooperatives in Latin America.
- I Too Had A Dream, as told to Gouri Salvi, ISBN 978-8174364074
- An Unfinished Dream, ISBN 978-0074622148
- The Man Who Made The Elephant Dance - Audio Autobiography of Dr. Kurien in the voice of Tom Alter with Audio Foreword by Ratan Tata, in his own voice ISBN: 9789382299240
Academic achievements, awards and honors 
|Year||Name of Award or Honor||Awarding Organization|
|1999||Padma Vibhushan||Government of India|
|1993||International Person of the Year Award||World Dairy Expo|
|1989||World Food Prize||World Food Prize, USA.|
|1986||Wateler Peace Prize Award||Carnegie Foundation, The Netherlands.|
|1986||Krushi Ratna Award||Government of India.|
|1966||Padma Bhushan||Government of India.|
|1965||Padma Shri||Government of India.|
|1963||Ramon Magsaysay Award||Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation.|
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- Dr. Verghese Kurien: The Making of a Legend
- The Amul Saga by Verghese Kurien
- Dr. Kurien, 1989 World Food Prize Laureate
- Verghese Kurien passes away
- Verghese Kurien played key role in dairy movement in Bihar