Dr. Verghese Kurien (26 November 1921 – 9 September 2012), a renowned Indian social entrepreneur known as the ‘Father of the White Revolution’ for his ‘Billion Liter Idea’ (Operation Flood) – the world’s largest agricultural development program – are still famous for today. This operation gave India more progress than America in 1998 and made it the largest producer of milk from a milk-deficient country.
Verghese Kurien was born on 26 November 1912, in Kerala, India. He graduated from Loyola College in 1940 with a physics degree, then went to Guindy College of Engineering for his Mechanical Engineering degree.
He studied at the Tata Steel Technical Institute, Jamshedpur before moving to the U.S. to study at Michigan State University on a government scholarship. In 1948, he got his Master’s in Mechanical Engineering.
He was deputed to a creamery in Gujarat after his return from the US as an officer of the Dairy division for five years in 1949. His scholarship required him to perform this job, even though he didn’t like dairy.
Kurien’s job was boring at first, but he was fascinated by the way cunning and rich businessmen exploited milk distributors and farmers.
One person, Tribhuvandas Patel, tried to unify the farmers and fight exploitation by forming a cooperative movement. He inspired Kurien a lot and he joined him.
As a result, Patel formed the Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Limited (KDCMPUL) but faced huge pressure from Polson Dairy, a competing dairy company. Kurien decided to support Patel in his endeavors.
After being formed in 1946, the Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Limited (KDCMPUL) became Amul Dairy, playing a crucial role in India’s White Revolution.
During India’s White Revolution, Amul Dairy played a huge role in making India one of the world’s top milk producers.
Kurien’s friend, H.M.Dalaya, invented a way to make buffalo milk into powder and condensed milk. Since cow’s milk was the only thing that could be used for such processed items, it revolutionized the Indian dairy industry. It was so successful that it was quickly replicated in several other Gujarat districts.
The NDDB was created in 1965 by Lal Bahadur Shastri to expand Kurien’s cooperative program across the country after Kurien’s Amul work was so groundbreaking. Kurien became chairman of the organization.
In 1979, he helped found the Institute of Rural Management, Anand (IRMA), which was designed on the philosophy that professional management was the key to rural development.
Several prestigious awards were given to him for his tireless work in dairy and agriculture. Some of his awards include Padma Shri (1965), Padma Bhushan (1966), and Padma Vibhushan (1999) by the Government of India, the Ramon Magsaysay Award (1963), and the World Food Prize (1989).
Verghese Kurien died on 9 September 2012, in Gujarat, India.