The man who helped millions of poor Indians reinvent their lives and livelihood and led the country itself from deprivation to the abundance of milk has passed away. Verghese Kurien, 90, died of old age-related ailments around 1.15 am on Sunday. He is survived by his widow, Molly Kurien, and daughter Nirmala.
Known as the father of the White Revolution and affectionately referred to as ‘India’s Milkman’, Kurien was credited with having pioneered the milk cooperative model at the village level. Kurien had been admitted to the Muljibhai Patel Urological Hospital in Nadiad last week. His body was brought to his residence around 4 am on Sunday and placed at the Sardar Hall of Amul dairy in Anand for people to pay homage.
President Pranab Mukherjee condoled the death of Kurien and hailed him as the one who ushered in the White Revolution. In his condolence message, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Kurien’s greatest contribution was to give a position of pre-eminence to the farmer and his or her interests rather than those of middlemen.
Kurien founded the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation and the National Dairy Development Board. While his mission began with an aim to meet the country’s huge demand for milk, the focus later shifted to processing milk into value-added products under Amul as part of Operation Flood.
Born on November 26, 1921 in Kozhikode in a Syrian Christian family, Kurien attended Loyola College, Chennai, and did engineering at Madras University before he went to Michigan State University for his master’s degree. On his return, he was posted as a dairy engineer at the government creamery, Anand, in May 1949.
Around the same time, the infant cooperative dairy, Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Ltd, later rechristened Amul, was fighting a battle with the privately owned Polson Dairy. Kurien volunteered to help set up a processing plant. Amul went on to become a historic brand.