By R S Sodhi
The loss of Dr Verghese Kurien is irreparable. Nobody can fill the vacuum created by his demise. The Amul fraternity has lost a fatherly figure. He was a father to everybody. A great institution builder, visionary and, most importantly, someone who built institutions for the lower strata of the society — not the affluent. he worked for the people for whom nobody was ready to build a management institution.
Our tribute would be committing ourselves to maintaining his work standards at the institutions he built. We will maintain the values such as integrity, honesty and efficiency, which he had inculcated in the institutions when he was there.
Ensuring that the world class institution he built continues to work for decades with the same efficiency, passion and commitment would be a worthy tribute to the man.
The next generation is ready to inherit the legacy Dr Kurien created over five decades and it will make sure that even the slightest compromise on his value system is not allowed to creep in.
He was our mentor and I had the privilege of working with him for 25 years. I was part of the first batch of the Institute of Rural Management Anand (Irma), an institution he build with a vision to produce managers for rural producers’ organisations. In the 1980s, the best of the management institutions were not ready to offer their managers for these organisations. Dr Kurien was on the board of IIM-A then and took the challenge of building an institution that would produce managers for the rural producers.
Cooperative leaders and professionals would have to take the responsibility of retaining the structure Dr Kurien persevered for, over 57 years.
I have several memories associated with Dr Kurien. I was a student at Irma and he the chairman of the National Dairy Development Board, as well as the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation. We asked Dr Kurien: “When you recruit people, what do you look for?” He said: “I look for three things — one, integrity; two, integrity; and three, integrity.” So that is an example of the value he had.
Once we asked him: “Why have you built Irma, when there are so many management schools?” He replied: “India doesn’t need one Kurien; it needs hundreds. There are many things to do. I have built Irma to produce Kuriens.”
(As told to Business Standard)
The author is managing director, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation