EMPHASISING THAT the gap between the rich and poor had widened due to liberalisation process, pioneer of ‘Operation Flood’ Dr Verghese Kurien on Sunday said cooperatives were the solution to bridge this gap.
“We need to find ways to build India where all sections of our people can enjoy the fruits of development. In my view, cooperatives can and should play a greater role in India’s future growth,” Padma Vibhushan Dr Kurien said in his talk as part of the ‘Dynamic Resurgent India’ after the second special convocation of Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya.
“Cooperatives are required to be recognised as a distinct economic sector and integral component of the socio-economic system deserving special status from our government. If governed properly, cooperatives have the potential to solve many of our problems, especially in rural areas,” the agile octogenarian said.
Nearly 70 million Indian households own a total of 98 million cows and buffaloes with a majority of milk producers having only one or two milch animals, and these account for 70 per cent of milk production. “Using milk as a tool, we have transformed the lives of millions of small and marginal farmers and landless labourers,” the Ramon Magsaysay Award winner for Community Leadership, who gave India the ‘utterly butterly’ Amul, said.
By the mid-1960s, the Amul Cooperative had become so successful that then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, after a visit to Anand, asked if this kind of model (Anand pattern cooperatives) could be replicated elsewhere in the country.
The core feature of the Anand pattern model is farmer control at three stages following production, i.e. procurement, processing and marketing milk and milk products.
That was when the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) was formed in 1965, of which he remained the chairperson for 33 years but did not take any salary from the government as he said he “wanted to continue as an employee of the farmers.”
Earlier, at the start of his talk, after thanking DAVV for conferring the honorary doctorate, Dr Kurien urged the youth to resist the temptation to go and work where they will receive maximum monetary reward.
“Rather they should work with rural-oriented organisations where their talents are most required,” the former chairman of Institute of Rural Management (Anand), said.