The story goes that India’s ‘milkman’ never consumed milk himself as the taste didn’t quite agree with him. Matters of his own palate, however, did not deter the father of White Revolution, Verghese Kurien, from launching ‘Operation Flood’ or creating the ‘Taste of India’.
Kurien died early Sunday morning and, though a Christian, was cremated in a simple ceremony as per his wish, in Anand, Gujarat. Born on November 26, 1921 in Kozhikode, Kerala, Kurien landed in Anand in May 1949 at a government creamery.
“Initially, he lived in a garage because nobody would rent him a house as he was a bachelor and a beef-eating Christian. He was to move out as quickly as possible, but his friendship with Tribhuvan Das Patel, who set up Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers Union, forced him to stay back a little longer.” Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) MD, RS Sodhi, said.
“That changed the course of history.” Sodhi should know his facts, as the GCMMF of Amul fame was Kurien’s brainchild.
Amul, which began its journey as the Kaira co-operative with just two village dairy co-operative societies and 247 litres of milk, has grown into a Rs. 11,668-crore brand with milk collection of 3.88 billion litres.
Kurien’s one-time protégé-turned-rival Amrita Patel, chairperson of the National Dairy Development Board (another institution created by Kurien), called him a “visionary who created institutions with single-minded determination”.
“His greatest contribution was to give a position of pre-eminence to the farmer,” said PM Manmohan Singh.