National Milk Day: Remembering India's 'doodhwala' Verghese Kurien who spurred White Revolution

Today, 26 November, marks the birthday of Verghese Kurien, known as the father of the White Revolution in India. The day is observed as National Milk Day.

Kurien, fondly referred to as the ‘Milkman of India’ is remembered for helping turn the country into the world’s largest milk producer, turned the dairy brand Amul into a household name. He won many awards including the Padma Vibhushan, the World Food Prize and the Magsaysay Award.

Here is everything you need to know about the ‘Milkman of India’.

Born on 26 November 1921 in Kozhikode, Keral, Kurien was founder-chairman of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF)

The GCMMF is the apex organisation of the dairy cooperatives of Gujarat which markets its products by the brand name of "Amul".

Founded in 1948, the Anand-based Anand Milk Producers Union Limited (AMPUL) or “Amul” is a dairy cooperative managed by the GCMMF.

Kurien was a social entrepreneur whose "billion-litre idea" -- Operation Flood -- revolutionised dairy farming in the country.

 National Milk Day: Remembering Indias doodhwala Verghese Kurien who spurred White Revolution

A file photo of Verghese Kurien. PTI

The "Operation Flood" is credited with making India the largest milk producer in the world from a milk-deficient nation, doubling the availability of milk per person and increasing the milk output four-fold.

Kurien was instrumental in laying the foundation of democratic enterprises at remote villages and far-flung hamlets which ensured economic justice. And it was done with people's voluntary participation. Kurien managed the feat in the 1970s at a time when the country faced grim uncertainties over its food security.

From engineering to dairy development

Kurien graduated from Loyola College in 1940 and later completed his bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the College of Engineering, Guindy in 1943. After a brief stint at TISCO, he obtained a government of India scholarship to study dairy engineering.

Having acquired specialised training at the Imperial Institute of Animal Husbandry and Dairying in Bangalore, Kurien went to the US and completed his masters in mechanical engineering with dairy engineering as a minor subject from the Michigan State University, in 1948.

A year later, he was assigned to a Government Creamery in Anand, Gujarat as part of his bond commitment.

Arriving in Anand on 13 Mau 1949, Kurien was a harried man, only waiting to be released from his bond and leave the place as quickly as possible. He got his release orders after six months and was all set to pack up and go to Mumbai but a minor incident halted him in his tracks.

Just as he was preparing his exit, Tribhuvandas Patel, the then chairman of Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers Union, popularly known as 'Amul', with whom Kurien had developed a good friendship, requested him to stay back in Anand for some more time and help him organise his co-operative society's dairy equipment.

Kurien stayed back for a few more days...going on to become a legend through Operation Flood, launched in 1971.

The NDDB, formed by Kurien's efforts, replicated the Amul Model all over India with remarkable results which dramatically increased the country's milk production.

Kurien's main contribution was to design systems and institutions, which people could develop themselves, as he believed development of man can best be achieved by putting in his hands the instruments of development.

Interestingly, the 'milkman' of India did not consume milk himself. He use to say, "I do not drink milk as I don't like it."

Kurien died on 9 September 2012. He was 90-years-old.

With inputs from agencies 

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Updated Date: Nov 26, 2018 16:15:14 IST