POSTED BY Buzz ON Sep 09, 2012 AT 11:36 IST ,  Edited At: Sep 09, 2012 11:36 IST

He created the taste of India. He created wealth too, and that too in millions of small, poor homes. India's doodhwallah (milkman) Dr Verghese Kurien and his organisation Amul transformed the life of humble cattle farmers throughout the country. It's thanks to him that India is the world's largest producer of milk today, and Amul its biggest brandname. But the father of India's white revolution's real contribution lies in empowering the poor and initiating constructive social change in rural areas—the Amul revolution directly benefits more than 10 million dairy farmers. In the 1980s, he repeated what he did for milk in edible oils, with Operation Golden Flow. Apart from the Padma Vibhushan, the pugnacious visionary was also a Magsaysay awardee for Community Leadership (1963), and a winner of the World Food Prize in 1989.

Writing in 2005, Khushwant Singh wrote:

Kurien was born in 1921 to a well-to-do Syrian Christian family of Calicut. A bright student, he was with the Tatas after graduating in science and engineering from Madras University.

He applied for a government scholarship for higher studies abroad, hoping to return to his job with added qualifications. One question put to him by a member of the selection panel changed his entire career.

He was asked, "What is pasteurisation?" He answered correctly that it was processing milk to make it last longer. He was told he'd be sent to Michigan State University in the US to study dairy farming and milk production. He was flabbergasted but accepted the offer.

If he changed his mind after he returned to India, he would have to repay the government Rs 30,000. He did not have that kind of money. So a very sulky young lad found himself in a dusty little town—Anand—in Gujarat to ensure continuance of milk supply to Bombay.

He could not speak Gujarati, was a beef-eating Christian and a bachelor. No family in Anand was willing to have him as a paying guest. He converted an empty garage into his home.

It did not take him very long to befriend locals, chiefly farmers who owned buffaloes and sold milk to earn their livelihood.

He found two stalwarts to support him: Tribhuvan Patel and Miraben, daughter of Sardar Patel. He formed the Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producer's Union, better known after its butter, Amul.

Luck was on his side, or so he believed. Professing to be an unbeliever in the occult, he had his fortune read by the length of his shadow at noontime. The shadow reader told his past accurately: he did not like his job and would leave it in a month.

Also, "your career is set for a phenomenal rise—the kind you can never imagine". Kurien told his biographer, "In hindsight, it could not be truer." He quit the government creamery and joined the Kaira cooperative. The rest is history.

The Anand milk cooperative was modernised. When President Rajendra Prasad came to lay its foundation stone, a mouse came out from nowhere and jumped on the stove. "The entire gathering was overcome with joy," says Kurien, "because the mouse is seen as Lord Ganesha's vehicle." So, with the blessings of Ganesha, the lord of auspicious beginnings, began Kurien's meteoric rise to dazzling heights.

Read the full piece: Utterly Butterly

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POSTED BY Buzz ON Sep 09, 2012 AT 11:36 IST ,  Edited At: Sep 09, 2012 11:36 IST
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Daily Mail
Sep 14, 2012
06:36 PM

 This is the person, a true patriot,  whose statue deserves to be in Parliament. No political leader has made such lasting difference to the people of this country as Verghese.  

Chennai, India
Sep 14, 2012
04:25 PM

May his Soul rest in peace!

hyd, India
Sep 10, 2012
01:15 PM

No words would be sufficient to describe the most important role played by Dr. V, Kurien in furthering the cause of farmers through milk producers’ co-operatives.
However, this is an occasion to do some introspection about “Amul” experiment. The Amul model of production, procurement and marketing of milk initially, and of milk products subsequently, through village based co-operatives has been successful in increasing incomes of farmers. But with millions of families (consumers) with low purchasing power, big co-operatives like Amul have to sell milk and milk products to those families who can afford to buy it. This means if consumers cannot afford to buy milk, there could be ‘surplus’ which may keep price of milk at a level which the farmers feel not remunerative enough and consumers feel that it is high. This situation is not a happy situation to be in but today it is the bitter reality.
Incidentally as a consumer, my query is who would protect interests of the consumers of milk? Is it difficult to protect interests of both the consumers (who far outnumber the producers of milk) and the milk producers? Incidentally, what is the right price of milk? Consumers have faced continuous increase in price of milk during the last few years.

Narendra M Apte
Pune, India
Sep 09, 2012
10:40 PM

 A Great Son of Keralam ! A Worthy of  India  !!

Kurien Maashe..We salute you for all that you did for the Indian farmers and their families.

G. Niranjan Rao
Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, India
Sep 09, 2012
09:37 PM

Undoubtedly the brand Name  A M U L  does appear " imprint " on the hearts of general public as the same is attached with their day to day life routine from early morning to late night till going to bed.  As long this brand name - AMUL remains in the market , Dr.Verghese Kurien,the Father of White Revolution, shall remain always alive in the memory of people not just in Gujrat but all over India. Indeed a great man he was who could just not make available milk and it`s product in plenty to people, but generated lot of opportunities of employments to the milk  producers from the smallest scale to big ones.

May rest his soul in peace. 

Parshuam Gautampurkar
Sawai Madhopur-Rajasthan, India
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