India's milkman dies aged 90
The father of the White Revolution, Dr Vergh-ese Kurien, who transformed India from a milk-deficient country to the world’s largest milk producer, died early on Sunday at Muljibhai Patel Urological Hospital in Nadiad, Gujarat. Kurien, 90, is survived by wife Molly and daughter Nirmala.“He died of ailments related to old age,” PA Joseph, Kurien’s former executive assistant, said.
He was cremated in Anand, Gujarat, in the presence of family, friends and employees of Amul, the dairy cooperative that Kurien helped transform into a household name. In his biography, I Too Had a Dream, Kurien had said that he wants to be cremated in Anand.
Born on November 26, 1921 in Kozhikode, Kerala, Kurien landed in Anand in May 1949 at a government creamery.
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 him from launching ‘Operation Flood’ or creating the ‘Taste of India’.
“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, said RS Sodhi, MD, Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF). “That changed the course of history.”
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 Rs11,668-crore brand with milk collection of 3.88 billion litres.
“His greatest contribution was to give a position of pre-eminence to the farmer,” said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in his condolence message.
Congress chief Sonia Gandhi said Kurien was a man of extraordinary vision.
Not many know, the Padma-sri, Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan and World Food Prize winner was instrumental in the making of films Manthan and Sardar, and television serial Surabhi for Doordarshan.