Nick Name: Father of the White Revolution of India, Milkman of India
Birthday: November 26, 1921
Died At Age: 90
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Born in: Calicut, (Madras Presidency) (now Kozhikode, Kerala, India)
Famous as: Social Entrepreneur
Indian Business People
Spouse/Ex-: Molly Kurien
Died on: September 9, 2012
place of death: Nadiad, Gujarat, India
awards: Ramon Magsaysay Award (1963)
Padma Shri (1965)
Padma Bhushan (1966)
Padma Vibhushan (1999)
World Food Prize (1989)
Who was Verghese Kurien?
Best known as the visionary who architected India’s White Revolution, Verghese Kurien was a social entrepreneur who helped to lay the foundation of development from the grassroots. He believed that the true development of a nation was possible only if the farmers at the grass roots were entrusted with the responsibility of organizing democratic enterprises. Growing up as the son of a civil surgeon, young Verghese had no interest whatsoever in dairy production. In fact he was not even fond of milk or milk products! How he ultimately became the Father of White Revolution was nothing but a quirk of fate which steered him towards what would become his life’s calling. One of the major proponents of the cooperative movement, he led the Operation Flood which made India, a previously milk-deficient nation the largest milk producer in the world. Under his able direction and guidance, around 30 cooperative institutions like AMUL, IRMA, and NDDB thrived. He helped AMUL in pioneering the process of producing milk powder from buffalo milk which was one of the factors that led to his appointment as the founder-chairman of National Dairy Development Board (NDDB).
Childhood & Early Life
He was born as the son of a civil surgeon in Cochin, Kerala. Even though he was born into a Christian family, he became an atheist later in life.
He attended Loyola College and graduated in Physics in 1940 before joining the College of Engineering in Guindy from where he obtained his Bachelors in Mechanical Engineering.
He loved to learn and furthered his education by joining the Tata Steel Technical Institute, Jamshedpur before moving to the U.S to study at the Michigan State University on a Government Scholarship. He earned his Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering in 1948
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On his return from the U.S in 1949, the Government of India deputed him to a creamery at Anand, in Gujarat where he was supposed to serve five years as an officer of the Dairy division. He personally had no interest in dairy, but had to perform this job in return for the government scholarship.
Kurien initially found his job very uninspiring but was intrigued by the way the milk distributors and farmers were exploited by the cunning and rich businessmen.
There was one person, Tribhuvandas Patel, who was trying his best to unite the farmers in order to form a cooperative movement and fight against the exploitation. Kurien was greatly inspired by this man and decided to join him.
Patel succeeded in forming a cooperative Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Limited (KDCMPUL) but faced immense pressure from a competing dairy business, Polson Dairy. Kurien decided to support Patel in his endeavors.
Formed in 1946, The Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Limited (KDCMPUL) soon came to be known as ‘Amul Dairy’ which played a very significant role in India’s White Revolution.
Amul played a pivotal role in ushering in India’s White Revolution which helped to make India, a hitherto milk-deficient nation, one of the largest producers of milk in the world.
H.M.Dalaya, a friend of Kurien and a dairy expert, invented a method of making milk powder and condensed milk from buffalo milk. It revolutionized the Indian dairy industry as till that point such processed items could be made only with cow’s milk.
The Amul Dairy was so successful that the model was soon replicated in several other neighboring districts in Gujarat.
Kurien’s work in Amul was so groundbreaking that the then Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shastri created the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in 1965 to expand the cooperative program to all corners of the country. Kurien was named Chairman of the organization.
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In order to better manage the cooperative body, the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. (GCMMF) was set up in 1973.
In 1979, he helped to found the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA) which was based on the philosophy that effective rural development is possible only through professional management.
Verghese Kurien is the man behind the success of the milk cooperative, Amul Dairy, which not only spurred India’s White Revolution, but also became one of the country’s largest and most trusted food brands which also expanded into overseas markets.
Awards & Achievements
Kurien was a life-long learner who believed that education is a never ending process. He had been bestowed with honorary degrees from many prominent institutions including Michigan State University and Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences.
He was honored with several prestigious awards for his relentless services to the dairy and farming communities. Some of his awards include: Padma Shri (1965), Padma Bhushan (1966) and Padma Vibhushan (1999) by the Government of India, the Ramon Magsaysay Award (1963), and World Food Prize (1989).
Personal Life & Legacy
He was married to Molly with whom he had one daughter, Nirmala. He was grandfather to Siddharth, Nirmala’s son.
He lived a long and productive life and died in 2012 at the age of 90 after a brief illness.
This famous personality, known as the Father of White Revolution, never drank milk himself!