Life of Indian farmers were drastically staggered post independence. Need of the hour was not only adequate reforms and government policies to shape the life of farmers, but also their implementation, as the situation could better only after some years of consistent efforts. This was the time when a young technocrat, coming from a relatively ordinary place named Anand, was envisioning an entirely different life for Indian farmers and citizens – a life free of starvation and a country recognized for its milk affluence. Little did people know that this young lad named Verghese Kurian will be known as the messiah of farmers in coming times and will be highly instrumental in mending India’s reputation all over the world!
The famous Milkman, as he is better known as, is ranked amongst such Indians who helped India come along after independence. As a fired up individual, when Dr. Kurian joined hands with Shri Tribhovandas Kishibhai Patel who was a cooperative leader already working for a similar cause, it helped the formulation of Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) which went on to be the biggest brand in milk and milk related products – Amul. Dr. Kurian’s model turned out to be a novel substitute to corporate because his model was directed towards equitable distribution in every respect. That means this aimed at a win-win situation for the cooperative, people, consumers, country and the farmers.
Dr. Kurian’s philosophy was to use milk as an instrument to empower masses, particularly women. While helping foster India’s erstwhile recognition as a milk scarce nation to the top milk producer of the world, he never let down the prime motto of empowering people. He strongly believed that farmer should be the largest beneficiary in the cumulative earnings from milk and milk products. He made sure that farmers, the chief milk suppliers to his local cooperative, get their due recognition and share. POLSONS was a renowned brand in the milk segment in 1949 and its policies only led to exploit farmers. Aside this, Dr. Kurian wanted a pro-farmer arrangement and at the same time, did not want a government model as he was sure it would hamper his idea of cooperative growth and would only add to farmers’ misery.
However, erstwhile Prime Minster Lal Bahadur Shastri, was already overwhelmed with Amul’s modus operandi. Mr. Shastri that time asked Dr. Kurian to play a pivotal role in formulation of NDDB, National Dairy Development Board. On the condition that the Board’s head office should be centered at Anand, i.e. far from any political effects, the Board formed. Later on it leveraged Amul model to be reproduced in other states as well. His deep-rooted attachment with rural India could be quite apparently seen when he formed Institute of Rural Management (IRMA), a reputed management institute today.
As we see today, dairy sector in India embraces many private organizations, but thanks to Dr. Kurian’s vision, relentless efforts and maximum exposure to the farmers, all the other entrants are following Amul’s footsteps. Dr. Kurian might not be alive today but he will be forever remembered as an ambassador who changed farmers’ lives and empowered women like never before.