Verghese Kurien

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Verghese Kurien
Verghese kurien.jpg
Born (1921-11-26)26 November 1921
Calicut, Madras Presidency, British India
(now Kozhikode, Kerala)
Died 9 September 2012(2012-09-09) (aged 90)
Nadiad, Gujarat, India
Nationality Indian
Alma mater Loyola College
College of Engineering, Guindy
Michigan State University
Occupation Co-founder, Amul
Ex-Chairman, NDDB and IRMA
Known for White revolution in India[1]
Awards World Food Prize (1989)
Padma Vibhushan (1999)
Padma Bhushan (1966)
Padma Shri (1965)
Ramon Magsaysay Award (1963)

Verghese Kurien (26 November 1921 – 9 September 2012) was an Indian social entrepreneur[2] who is known as the Father of White Revolution in India for his Operation Flood, the world's largest agricultural development programme.[3][4] This transformed India from a milk-deficient nation to the world's largest milk producer, surpassing the United States of America in 1998,[5] with about 17 percent of global output in 2010–11, which in 30 years doubled milk available to every person.[6] Dairy farming became India's largest self-sustaining industry.[7] He also made India self-sufficient in edible oils taking on the powerful and entrenched oil supplying lobby.[8]

He found major institutes such as Anand Milk Federation Union Limited, National Dairy Development Board and Institute of Rural Management Anand. 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.[9][10] This led Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri to appoint him the founder-chairman of National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in 1965, to replicate Amul's "Anand model" nationwide.[4] He is regarded as one of the greatest proponents of the cooperative movement in the world, his work having lifted millions out of poverty in India and outside.[11]

Early life and education[edit]

Kurien was born on 26 November 1921 at Calicut, Madras Presidency (now Kozhikode, Kerala) into a Syrian Christian family.[12][13] He did his schooling at Diamond Jubilee Higher Secondary School in Gobichettipalayam while his father worked as a civil surgeon at Gobichettipalayam Government Hospital.[14][15] He graduated in Physics from Loyola College, Madras in 1940 and then obtained his Bachelors in Mechanical engineering from the College of Engineering, Guindy[16] 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 Metallurgical Engineering from Michigan State University in 1948.[17][18][19][20]


In 1949, Kurien was deputed to the Government of India's experimental creamery, at Anand in Gujarat and started the work assigned to him the very same day. He had already made up his mind to quit mid-way but was persuaded to stay back at Anand by Tribhuvandas Patel who had brought together farmers in Kheda as a cooperative union to process and sell their milk.[21][22]

Kurien disliked meddling from the political class or bureaucrats, letting it be known upfront, though he and his mentor Tribhuvandas Patel were backed by few political leaders and bureaucrats who saw merit in their pioneering cooperative model.[23] Patel's efforts and the trust placed in him by farmers inspired Kurien to dedicate himself to establishing Amul. Then Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru visited Anand to inaugurate Amul's plant and embraced Kurien for his groundbreaking work.[24] Dairy expert H. M. Dalaya invented the process of making skim milk powder and condensed milk from buffalo milk.[9][10] In India, buffalo milk is the main raw material unlike Europe where cow milk is abundant. Later research by Dr. G. H. Wilster led to cheese production from buffalo milk at Amul.[25]

The Amul pattern of cooperatives became successful and in 1965 Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri tasked Kurien to replicate the program nationwide. The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) was set up under the leadership of Kurien on condition that it will have to be headquartered in Anand.[26] Kurien took on established competitors viz. Aarey dairy of the Bombay Milk and Polson Dairy, dealt with aid from donors like UNICEF and confronted the New Zealand government and a powerful 'dumping' lobby of countries which wanted to 'convert food aid into trade'.[27][28][29][30]

Kurien established Gujarat Co-operative Milk Manufacturers Federation (GCMMF) in 1973 to sell the combined produce of the dairies under a single Amul brand. He quit the post of GCMMF chairman in 2006 following disagreement with the management.[31][32] When the National Dairy Development Board expanded the scope of Operation Flood to cover the entire country in 1979, Kurien founded the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA). Kurien played a role in setting up similar cooperatives across India and in other organizations like chairing the Viksit Bharat Foundation, a body set up by the President of India.[33]

Personal life[edit]

Verghese married Molly and they had one daughter, Nirmala Kurien.[34] Verghese Kurien died on 9 September 2012 after a brief spell of illness in Nadiad, near Anand at the age of 90[35] and his wife Molly died on 14 December 2012 in Mumbai.[36]

Literary work[edit]

In Popular culture[edit]

Shyam Benegal produced Manthan (the churning of the 'milk ocean'), a story based on the cooperative milk movement in India. Benegal was helped by Kurien who requested farmers to contribute a token two rupees for the making of the movie. Upon its release in 1976, the film was a success at the box office which led to its release nationwide. It was critically acclaimed and went on to win national awards the following year. Kurien suggested that a similar film could be made with a vet, a milk technician and a fodder specialist who could explain the value of cross-breeding of cattle and would tour other parts of the country along with the film's prints to woo farmers there to create cooperatives of their own.[38] UNDP would use the movie to start similar cooperatives in Latin America.[39] In 2013, Amar Chitra Katha published Verghese Kurien: The Man with the Billion Litre idea.[40]

Awards and honours[edit]

Year Name of Award or Honor Awarding Organization
1999 Padma Vibhushan[41] Government of India
1993 International Person of the Year World Dairy Expo
1991 Distinguished Alumni Michigan State University
1989 World Food Prize World Food Prize Foundation
1986 Wateler Peace Prize[42] Carnegie Foundation
1986 Krishi Ratna Government of India
1966 Padma Bhushan[41] Government of India
1965 Padma Shri[41] Government of India
1963 Ramon Magsaysay Award Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation

Kurien has also received 15 honorary degrees from universities in India and around the world.[43][44] To commemorate his memory, Institute of Rural Management Anand has instituted the annual Dr. Verghese Kurien Memorial Lecture[45] at IRMA to be held on his birth anniversary. The first lecture in 2012 was delivered by M. S. Swaminathan. The second lecture in 2013 was delivered by Vijay Shankar Vyas.[46] The third lecture in 2014 was delivered by the Governor of Reserve Bank of India, Raghuram Rajan.[47][48][49] The fourth annual lecture in 2015 was delivered by the Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India, Arvind Subramanian on 21 November 2015.[50][51] On 26 November 2015, Google placed a doodle on its homepage, honoring him on his 94th birthday.[11]


  1. ^ "Father of white revolution Verghese Kurien dies". The Times of India. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  2. ^ Srikar Muthyala (29 September 2015). "The List of Great Entrepreneurs of India in 2015". MyBTechLife. 
  3. ^ "1989: Dr. Verghese Kurien". (The World Food Prize Foundation). Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  4. ^ a b Singh, Katar (1999). Rural Development: Principles, Policies and Management. New Delhi: SAGE. p. 201. ISBN 81-7036-773-5. 
  5. ^ "India largest milk producing nation in 2010–11: NDDB". Hindustan Times. 20 December 2011. Archived from the original on 26 April 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2012. 
  6. ^ Kurien, Verghese (2007). "India' s Milk Revolution: Investing in Rural Producer Organizations". In Narayan, Deepa; Glinskaya, Elena. Ending Poverty in South Asia: Ideas that work. Washington D.C., USA: (The World Bank). p. 52. ISBN 0-8213-6876-1. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  7. ^ Pendleton, Andrew; Narayanan, Pradeep. "The white revolution : milk in India" (PDF). Taking liberties: poor people, free trade and trade justice. Christian Aid. p. 35. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  8. ^ Aneja, R. P. "Life and times of Verghese Kurien". The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  9. ^ a b Damodaran, Harish (13 September 2004). "Amul's tech wizard, Dalaya passes away". The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved 10 September 2012. 
  10. ^ a b Heredia, Ruth (1997). The Amul India Story. New Delhi: Tata Mc-Graw Hill. pp. 112–115. ISBN 978-0-07-463160-7. 
  11. ^ a b "Google Doodle pays tribute to Dr. Verghese Kurien on his Birthday". Retrieved 25 November 2015. 
  12. ^ "Amul brand builder Verghese Kurien: The man who turned India into largest milk producer". Economic Times. Retrieved 26 November 2015. 
  13. ^ "Report on Dr Verghese Kurien in Tehelka". Tehelka. Retrieved 26 November 2015. 
  14. ^ "Kurien visits Erode". Industrial Economist. Retrieved 26 November 2015. 
  15. ^ "Varghese Kurien’s bust immortalises his association with Erode district". The Hindu. 26 February 2015. 
  16. ^ "Dr V Kurien". Amul. Retrieved 26 November 2015. 
  17. ^ "Amul and dairy cooperatives". Economic Times. Retrieved 26 November 2015. 
  18. ^ "Verghese Kurien, Leader of India's Milk Cooperatives, Dies at 90". Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  19. ^ "Dr Verghese Kurien – From mechanical engineer to milkman". Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  20. ^ "The man who revolutionised white". Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  21. ^ Heredia, Ruth (1997). The Amul India Story. New Delhi: Tata Mc-Graw Hill. p. 65. ISBN 978-0-07-463160-7. 
  22. ^ Misra, Udit (10 September 2012). "V. Kurien: India’s White Knight". Forbes India. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  23. ^ Dasgupta, Manas (9 September 2012). "'Kurien strode like a titan across the bureaucratic barriers and obstacles'". The Hindu. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  24. ^ Heredia, Ruth (1997). The Amul India Story. New Delhi: Tata Mc-Graw Hill. pp. 85–127. ISBN 978-0-07-463160-7. 
  25. ^ Heredia, Ruth (1997). The Amul India Story. New Delhi: Tata Mc-Graw Hill. p. 168. ISBN 978-0-07-463160-7. 
  26. ^ Pandit, Shrinivas (2001). Thought Leaders. New Delhi: Tata Mc-Graw Hill. pp. 147–148. ISBN 978-0-07-049550-0. 
  27. ^ Heredia, Ruth (1997). The Amul India Story. New Delhi: Tata Mc-Graw Hill. p. 175. ISBN 978-0-07-463160-7. 
  28. ^ Heredia, Ruth (1997). The Amul India Story. New Delhi: Tata Mc-Graw Hill. pp. 110–116. ISBN 978-0-07-463160-7. 
  29. ^ Heredia, Ruth (1997). The Amul India Story. New Delhi: Tata Mc-Graw Hill. pp. 106–108. ISBN 978-0-07-463160-7. 
  30. ^ Heredia, Ruth (1997). The Amul India Story. New Delhi: Tata Mc-Graw Hill. pp. 210–211. ISBN 978-0-07-463160-7. 
  31. ^ Katakam, Anupama (7 April 2006). "Controversy: Milkman's exit". Frontline (Volume 23 – Issue 06). Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  32. ^ Mahurkar, Uday (17 April 2006). "A White Evolution: Verghese Kurien quits Gujarat co-operative, diary body faces politicking risk". India Today. Retrieved 13 September 2012. 
  33. ^ "Verghese Kurien played key role in dairy movement in Bihar". Times of India. 12 September 2012. 
  34. ^ "Modi had soured relations with the milkman of India". Times of India. 11 September 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  35. ^ "Verghese Kurien passes away". Retrieved 26 November 2015. 
  36. ^ "Wife of late Dr Verghese Kurien to be created at Mumbai". The Times of India. 15 December 2012. Retrieved 15 December 2012. 
  37. ^ "I too had a dream - on". 
  38. ^ "Amul's Verghese Kurien never suffered fools: Shyam Benegal". The Economic Times. 10 September 2012. Retrieved 11 September 2012. 
  39. ^ "How a farmers' servant painted the nation white" (PDF). UNDP quoting Hindustan Times. 9 September 2012. Retrieved 27 November 2014. 
  40. ^ "Visonaries:Kurien". Amar Chitra Katha. Retrieved 26 November 2015. 
  41. ^ a b c "Padma Awards". Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. 2015. Archived from the original (PDF) on 15 November 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2015. 
  42. ^ "Dr. Kurien, 1989 World Food Prize Laureate". WFP. Retrieved 26 November 2015. 
  43. ^ Indian Dairy Association. "Dr. Verghese Kurien: The Making of a Legend" (PDF). Retrieved 26 October 2012. 
  44. ^ Verghese Kurien. "Dr. Verghese Kurien: Honorary Degrees". Retrieved 3 July 2014. 
  45. ^ IRMA. "Institute of Rural management Anand: Dr. Verghese Kurien Memorial Lecture". 
  46. ^ Virendra Pandit (12 December 2013). "IRMA’s Dr. Verghese Kurien memorial lecture on Friday". Business Line. Retrieved 26 November 2015. 
  47. ^ "Large wilful defaulters are freeloaders, not industry captains: Rajan". Business Standard. 26 November 2014. 
  48. ^ "Saving Credit Talk by Dr. Raghuram G. Rajan". RBI. Retrieved 18 November 2015. 
  49. ^ "Taxpayers have to pay for promoters' 'riskless capitalism': Raghuram Rajan". Retrieved 26 November 2015. 
  50. ^ "Arvind Subramanian moots 'Amul model' for pulses". Business Standard. 21 November 2015. Retrieved 25 November 2015. 
  51. ^ Rutam Vora (20 November 2015). "Arvind Subramanian to deliver Kurien memorial lecture at IRMA". Business Line. Retrieved 25 November 2015. 

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