26 November 1921|
Calicut, (Madras Presidency)
(now Kozhikode, Kerala)
|Died||9 September 2012
Nadiad, Gujarat, India
Ex-Chairman, NDDB and IRMA
|Known for||White revolution in India|
|Awards||World Food Prize (1989)
Order of Agricultural Merit (1997)
Padma Vibhushan (1999)
Padma Bhushan (1966)
Padma Shri (1965)
Ramon Magsaysay Award (1963)
Verghese Kurien (26 November 1921 – 9 September 2012) known as the Father of the White Revolution in India was a social entrepreneur whose Operation Flood, the world's largest agricultural development programme, made India the world's largest milk producer, surpassing the United States of America in 1998, with about 17 percent of global output in 2010–11, from a milk-deficient nation, which doubled milk available per person within 30 years, and which made dairy farming India's largest self-sustaining industry.
He 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. He found National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in 1965, to replicate Amul's "Anand model" nationwide.
He also made India self-sufficient in edible oils taking on the powerful and entrenched oil supplying lobby. 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.
Early life and education
Kurien was born on 26 November 1921 at Calicut, Madras Presidency (now Kozhikode, Kerala) into a Syrian Christian family. He did his schooling at Diamond Jubilee Higher Secondary School in Gobichettipalayam while his father worked as a civil surgeon at Gobichettipalayam Government Hospital. 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 (Metallurgy), (with a minor in nuclear physics) from Michigan State University in 1948.
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.
Kurien disliked meddling from the political class and bureaucrats, letting it be known upfront, though he and his mentor Tribhuvandas Patel were backed by a few political leaders and bureaucrats who saw merit in their pioneering cooperative model. Patel's efforts and the trust placed in him by farmers inspired Kurien to dedicate himself to establishing Amul. Then Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru visited Anand to inaugurate Amul's plant and embraced Kurien for his groundbreaking work. Dairy expert H. M. Dalaya invented the process of making skim milk powder and condensed milk from buffalo milk. 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.
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 be set up in Anand. Kurien took on established competitors viz. Aarey dairy of the Bombay Milk and Polson Dairy, dealt with aid from donors like the UNICEF and confronted the New Zealand government and a powerful lobby of countries for 'dumping' who wanted to 'convert food aid into trade'.
Kurien established the 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. 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.
In 1979, President Alexei Kosygin invited Kurien to the Soviet Union. In 1982, Pakistan invited him to set up diary cooperatives.
Verghese married Molly and they had one daughter, Nirmala Kurien. Verghese Kurien died on 9 September 2012 after a brief spell of illness in Anand. at the age of 90 while his wife Molly died on 14 December 2012 in Mumbai. Kurien himself never drank milk.
- Kurien, Verghese (2005) I Too Had a Dream. APH Publishing Corp. ISBN 9788174364074
- Kurien, Verghese (1997) An Unfinished Dream. Tata-McGraw-Hill. ISBN 9780074622148
- Kurien, Verghese The Man Who Made The Elephant Dance ISBN 9789382299240
In Popular culture
Shyam Benegal produced Manthan (the churning of the 'milk ocean'), a story based on the cooperative milk movement in India. He 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. UNDP would use the movie to start similar cooperatives in Latin America. In 2013,
In 2012, leaders from Bihar had asked the Government of India to award him Bharat Ratna posthumously. In 2013, 13,000 people in India signed an online petition for this demand, including Shekhar Kapur, Rajdeep Sardesai and Meera Sanyal. Several media newspapers in India also supported this.
Amar Chitra Katha has published Verghese Kurien: The Man with the Billion Litre idea.
Awards and honours
|Year||Name of Award or Honor||Awarding Organization|
|1999||Padma Vibhushan||Government of India|
|1997||Order of Agricultural Merit||France Ministère de l'Agriculture|
|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||Carnegie Foundation|
|1986||Krishi Ratna||Government of India|
|1966||Padma Bhushan||Government of India|
|1965||Padma Shri||Government of India|
|1963||Ramon Magsaysay Award||Ramon Magsaysay Award Foundation|
Kurien has also received 15 honorary doctorate degrees from universities in India and around the world. To commemorate his memory, Institute of Rural Management Anand has instituted the annual Dr. Verghese Kurien Memorial Lecture 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. The third lecture in 2014 was delivered by the Governor of Reserve Bank of India, Raghuram Rajan. The fourth annual lecture in 2015 was delivered by the Chief Economic Adviser to the Government of India, Arvind Subramanian on 21 November 2015.
On 26 November 2015, Google placed a doodle on its homepage, honoring him on his 94th birthday. In June 2016, Michigan State University dedicated his bust and is kept on display in the lobby of the university's International Center.
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