Bihar's politicians across the spectrum on Tuesday demanded the country's highest civilian honour — the Bharat Ratna — for the late Verghese Kurien, who brought about the milk revolution in the country that also benefited the state.
Two days after Kurien, 91, died, the leader of the opposition in the Bihar assembly Abdul Bari Siddiqui demanded the top honour for Kurien, whom officials describe as the man behind success of the dairy industry in Bihar.
"I have urged the central government to confer the Bharat Ratna posthumously on erghese Kurien," Siddiqui said.
Siddiqui in a letter to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, said that Kurien is fit for the award as he brought in tremendous qualitative and quantitative changes in the lives of millions of farmers across the country.
Rashtriya Janata Dal member of Parliament (MP) Ram Kirpal Yadav also supported Siddiqui's demand for the Bharat Ratna for Kurien.
Bihar's ruling Janata Dal (United) spokesperson Neeraj Kumar said that government should consider Kurien for the top award.
Kurien had served as the head of the National Dairy Development Board and the Gujrat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Limited (GCMMF) for many decades and was the architect of the White Revolution of the 1970s which catapulted India amongst the top milk producers in the world.
Kurien had a long association with Bihar from where he began his career in the early 1950s when he joined Tata Steel in Jamshedpur (now in Jharkhand) as a mechanical engineer and later shifted to Anand in Gujarat where he started Anand Milk Union Limited (Amul) in 1956.
Kurien was the man behind success of the Bihar milk cooperative that was later renamed as the Patna Dairy Project. He was invited by the Bihar government in 1981 to make the project viable and profitable.
According to officials of the project, when Kurien joined Patna Dairy Project, it was collecting only 500 litres of milk but under his supervision and guidance a network of milk farmers spread out across the rural area.
Many dairies were established in the state, following the same model in different parts of the state.