Twitter feeds are making the mainstream, and the Amul girl is shedding tears. She will be joined by many, many more of us across the country in mourning the demise of Dr Verghese Kurien, who breathed his last on Sunday, 9 September.
The architect of ‘Operation Flood’, the largest dairy development programme in the world, is credited with making India the largest milk producer in the world at a time when food shortage was a critical concern.
The founder chairman of the National Dairy Development Board and Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) is credited with building the co-operative movement empowering dairy farmers in India, which in turn led to the birth and growth of the Amul brand. A brand that is genuinely Indian, and as inspiring today as Dr Kurien himself.
In his message condoling the death of Dr Kurien, Indian prime minister Dr Manmohan Singh said, “In his long and illustrious career, Dr Kurien set up the Anand model of cooperative dairy development, engineered the White Revolution, and made India the largest milk producer in the world. His greatest contribution was to give a position of pre-eminence to the farmer and his or her interests rather than those of middlemen.”
The vice president of India M Hamid Ansari noted in his statement that Dr Kurien is recognised as the man behind the success of the Amul brand.
Behind the growth of the Amul brand was a genuine story of a pioneer seeking to empower millions of his fellow countrymen - ‘Amul’ already existed when Dr Kurien started off in Anand.
The saying that refers to teaching a man how to fish, rather than feed him a fish to sate his hunger for the moment, was something Dr Kurien lived by. Brand Amul was the by product - a powerful one at that. The brand’s believability and trust it evokes stem from the fact that its reason for existence is noble, inclusive and rooted in Indian-ness .
Dr Kurien epitomized the spirit of India, while giving the world ‘The Taste of India’.
The Loyola and Guindy Engineering College pass out, for whom dairy engineering was only a minor subject when he finished his mechanical engineering at Michigan, has turned out to be the most selfless of Indians who availed of a scholarship from the government. He has given back to millions of his countrymen far more than he took.
RIP Dr Verghese Kurien.