Verghese Kurien : The Milkman of India || Real Story

"The Father of White Revolution', Verghese Kurien could've had a glorious career abroad, with multiple degrees to his name. But he chose to stay back in Gujarat and the rest is history. He believed that a country's biggest assets are its people. He improved the living standards of millions of poor farmers by placing technology and professional expertise in their hands.


Verghese Kurien

Kurien was born on 26th November. 1921, in Kozhikode, Kerala to a Syrian Anglican family. He was schooled at Diamond Jubilee Higher Secondary School, Gobichettipalayam, in Coimbatore district while his father worked as a civil surgeon at the government hospital. He joined Loyola College in Madras (now. Chennai) at the age of 14, graduating in Science with Physics in 1940, and then got a bachelor's degree in Mechanical Engineering from the College of Engineering, Guindy, which at that time was part of University of Madras, in 1943. He had to fend for himself as he was young for his age in every class. This according to him, developed his sense of



He lost his father at 22 and his grand-uncle moved his family to his home in Thrissur. Kerala. military cadet and a boxer at college, when he wanted to join the army as an engineer, his mother persuaded him to join the Tata Steel Technical Institute, Jamshedpur on a recommendation to the management by his uncle, who was a director with the Tatas. From here he graduated in 1946 after which he went to the USA to pursue his Masters degree.


Kurien came back from the USA and was immediately assigned to work at Anand in Gujarat's Kheda district in 1949. After 15 years, when he had made up his mind to quit, he was persuaded to stay on by Tribhuvandas Patel, who had brought together farmers as a union to process and sell their milk. So, he stayed and his sincere efforts were applauded by the then PM Lal Bahadur Shastri who came to inaugurate Amul's plant.


Kurien was mentioned by the Ashoka Foundation as one of the eminent present day social entrepreneurs. His 'billion-  litre' idea or operation flood is the world's biggest

agricultural development programme. The operation transformed India from a milk-lacking nation to the largest milk producer in the world, surpassing the USA in 1998. India produced 17% of global output of milk in 2010-11. He also made the country self-reliant in edible oils. Further, he founded 30 institutions which are owned totally by farmers.


Kurien was behind the creation of Amul, where milk powder from buffalo milk was produced for the first time in the world. Kurien's life story is chronicled in his personal memoir, 'I too Had a dream.' Film-maker Shyam Benegal produced a film, Manthan, based on the Cooperative Milk Movement in India. Not able to finance it himself, he sought Kurien's help, who got half a million farmers to contribute 2 each for the making of the movie. The farmers loved 'their' own film and it won many awards. UNDP planned to use the movie to start such cooperative ventures in Latin America.


Verghese and his wife Molly had one daughter and a grandson. He died on 9th September, 2012 after a brief illness in Nadiad, near Anand. Interestingly, the man behind the milk revolution didn't drink milk himself. His cooperative movement alleviated the misery and poverty of millions, not only in India, but also outside India. His contributions will always be admired.

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