Verghese Kurien, dubbed as the Milkman of India, passed away yesterday after a brief illness.
Kurien was an engineer, entrepreneur, a businessman and the founder of the largest cooperative movement. He is best known for creating the Amul dairy-food brand and successfully conducting Operation Flood. His model of cooperative dairy development today links over 10 million farmers at 200 dairies across India producing over 20 million litres of milk every day.
Kurien had left a lucrative job to join a small-time dairy cooperative in Anand in 1949. He was responsible for the creation and success of Amul brand of dairy products as the founding chairman of the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF).
Kurien was the founder-chairman of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in 1965, and he replicated Amul’s successes on a nationwide scale. A few years later, the NDDB under Kurien launched Operation Flood (or the White Revolution)—the largest dairy development program in the world. Operation Flood helped India become the world’s largest milk producer; in 2010–11, India’s contribution was close to 17 percent of the global production.
Kurien also set up the Institute of Rural Management, Anand, which has produced some of the best brains working on rural development and remains a unique institution.