Verghese Kurien: The Milkman Of India

2015-11-26 11:32:55



Verghese Kurien was an Indian social entrepreneur who is known as the Father of White Revolution in India for his Operation Flood, the world's largest agricultural development programme. This transformed India from a milk-deficient nation to the world's largest milk producer, surpassing the United States of America in 1998. He was the chief architect who made India the largest milk producer in the world (with 17% of the global total), and along the way drawing millions of rural farmers out of poverty. He successfully set up 30 institutions of excellence (like AMUL, GCMMF, IRMA, NDDB) which are owned, controlled by farmers and run by professionals.

Dr Kurien started the Milk cooperative movement and named it Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd (KDCMPUL), which later came to known as Amul because Dr. Kurien wanted a simple and easy to pronounce name. Also the name should include and help in growth of the union. Suggestions regarding the name were asked from the employees and farmers. ‘Amulya’ was then recommended by a quality control supervisor. It is a Sanskrit word meaning priceless. The name was later changed to Amul to incorporate union in the same. From there the brand AMUL- Anand Milk Union Limited, came into existence.

Amul received a complete success when the H.M. Dalaya, friend of Dr Kurien invented the process of making skim milk powder and condensed milk from buffalo milk instead of cow’s milk. Amul was working on cooperative scheme and it got so popular that it received government’s attention. Born on November 26, 1921 in Kozhikode, Kerala, Dr. Verghese Kurien graduated with Physics from Loyola College, Madras in 1940. Subsequently, he did his B.E. (Mechanical) from Madras University and went to USA on a government scholarship to do his Masters in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan State University. In between, he completed special studies in engineering at the Tata Iron and Steel Company Institute at Jamshedpur, Jharkhand, in February 1946 and underwent nine months of specialized training in dairy engineering at the National Dairy Research Institute of Bangalore.

In 1949, Kurien was deputed to the Government of India's experimental creamery, at Anand in Gujarat and started the work assigned to him the very same day. He had already made up his mind to quit mid-way but was persuaded to stay back at Anand by Tribhuvandas Patel who had brought together farmers in Kheda as a cooperative union to process and sell their milk. Dr. Kurien left his government job and joined forces with Tribhuvandas Patel and the farmers to start the Milk Cooperative movement in the region registered under the name of Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd (KDCMPUL), which was later renamed to now popular "Amul". He worked towards bringing a White Revolution in India and executed the much needed programme of "Operation Flood".

Credit: Indiatoday

In 1965, the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri created the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) under the leadership of Dr. Verghese Kurien to replicate the success story of Amul throughout the country. In 1973, Dr. Kurien set up GCMMF (Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation) to market the products produced by the dairies. Verghese Kurien died on September 9, 2012 in Nadiad, Gujarat. He was 90 year-old.

Dr. Verghese Kurien won many accolades and awards. These include: Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership (1963), Padma Shri (1965), Padma Bhushan (1966), Krishi Ratna Award (1986), Wateler Peace Prize Award of Carnegie Foundation (1986), World Food Prize Laureate (1989), International Person of the Year (1993) by the World Dairy Expo, Madison, Wisconsin, USA, and Padma Vibhushan (1999).

Source:,, India today