Tributes paid to India's father of dairy co-operatives

14 Sep 2012

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India has remembered its founding father of dairy co-operatives across the country that has helped millions of farmers and helped develop what is now Amul Dairy.

Hundreds of tributes have been paid to Dr. Verghese Kurien, who passed away on last month aged 90. Dr. Kurien has been called the country's doodhwalla (milkman) for his part in the White Revolution, turning India from a milk deficit country to the world’s largest milk producer through the work of co-operation.

He was the founding chair of the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) and of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB).

In the town of Anand, in Gujarat, a new movement of change began after dairy famers were being exploited by unfair trade practises. In 1946 the farmers went on strike and formed their own co-operative. That co-op is now better known as the dairy that markets Amul, which is jointly owned by three million dairy producers and generates revenue of USD2.15 billion. 

Following the success of the Amul Dairy, the Prime Minister of India, Lal Bahadur Shastri, decided that the same approach should become the basis of a National Dairy Development policy. In 1965 Dr Kurien took up the position of Chairman on the NDDB and was asked to replicate the Amul model around the country, this was known as Operation Flood.

Dame Pauline Green, the President of the ICA, said: “On behalf of the one billion members of the global co-operative movement, I would like to express my condolences and deepest respect for the extraordinary contribution of the late Verghese Kurien to the co-operative movement. Dr Kurien, Father of India’s White Revolution, showed how a small co-operative can grow to dominate a business sector.”

Chandra Pal Singh, President, NCUI said: “Under his able leadership 'Anand' became the milk capital of the country. His biggest contribution was to unite the millions of women and farmers in the dairy co-operative sector.

“Dr. Kurien provided strong dynamism to the co-operative sector and effectively lobbied for providing a fair representation to the co-operatives at various world forums. With death of such a towering co-operative leader, a big void has been created in the Indian Co-operative Movement.”

Hundreds of people shared their stories and condolences on the India Times website. Maria Fatima said: “Way back in the early 90s there was a shortage and Amul Butter and Cheese were not available in the market for weeks. I was with a Company working closely with NDDB. I sent a fax to Dr. Kurien telling him my breakfast was not enjoyable anymore without Amul Butter and Cheese. The next morning a van came to my office and not only me, all my colleagues got a fair ration of Butter and Cheese!”

Bichu Muttathara said: “Dr Verghese Kurien, the father of India’s ‘White Revolution’, was undoubtedly a great visionary and did not hesitate to take on the powerful Indian politician by their horns.”

Bhadresh K said: “A person who must be more than satisfied of accomplishment and fulfillment of life, a leader who set the example and inspiration for future generation. May departed soul rest in eternal peace!”

Dr. Kurien is survived by his wife and daughter. Last year, the town of Anand celebrated his 90th birthday in a mass event over November.

Picture: Amul's mascot since 1965, the Amul Girl, was seen weeping for the first time in an advert released after his death, it read: "Thank You For Giving us Hausla, Pragati & Anand . . . Dr V Kurien 1912-2012."

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