Agent Kurien: The man who re-discovered ‘The Milky Way’

By : |December 13, 2012 0

INDIA: It takes more than vision and an idea to create a change that runs deep, deep to the grassroots; and long, enduring long, into many generations. Dr. Verghese Kurien, the Father of the White Revolution as he is rightly anointed, was one such mind who created a huge and lasting change. An idea that continues being milked by many but which stays archetypal and inimitable like Kurien himself.

Dr. Kurien, is a name that immediately gets the suffix of the architect of India’s White Revolution.

It was a feat that ran beyond the precincts of a village or a co-operative for it etched India, the country itself as the largest milk producer in the world.

He was the founder Chairman of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) from 1965 to 1998, the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. (GCMMF), from 1973 to 2006 and the Institute of Rural Management (IRMA) from 1979 to 2006.

Known as the man who empowered many Indian farmers through co-operatives, Dr. Kurien brought the concepts of progress, better operations and efficiencies to the grass roots.

He used technology and structured management much ahead of their time in India and more so in a hinterland that no one was really bothered about.

He started The Operation Flood Programme, and the interesting, really radical part of this concept was that it had Milk Producers’; Cooperatives as the core part. Soon this idea morphed into India’s largest rural employment programme and made dairy development touch new frontiers.

It’s easy to drive a glamorous case study when the spotlight is on it. But to think beyond present needs and challenges takes a real change agent.

It all started when in his initial career days, Dr. Kurien quit a lucrative government job and joined a small-time dairy cooperative.

Slowly and in really maverick ways, he weaned many farmers off the notion of dependence. He strongly infused the notion of being self-dependent. The first Dairy Co-operative Union in Gujarat was formed with 2 Village Dairy Co-operative societies as its members. He not only encouraged farmers to stand on their own feet but also accelerated the milk production of India at staggering rates. Notably, India’s milk procurement has increased from 20 million metric tonnes per year in the 60s to 122 million metric tonnes in 2011.

Kurien brought in avant-garde international technology as well as futuristic practices in Amul.

The cooperative movement, is hence now a model that only India’s other entities try emulating but something that inspires many developing countries throughout the world.

Many states and brands have tried the model. Examples like Verka, Nandini, Sudha, Mahananda and Saras show why the World Bank had identified the Amul model as one of the key tools to fight poverty.

Not only that, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. (GCMMF) has reportedly received requests from African countries to assist them in replicating the model.

No doubt, he was conferred with the honour of “Padma Vibhushan” by The Govt. of India, and also received World Food Price, the Ramon Magsaysay award for Community Leadership, the Carnegie – Wateler World Peace Prize and the International Person of the Year award from the U.S.

Today, GCMMF is India’s largest food product marketing organisation with annual turnover (2011-12) of $2.5 billion. The daily milk procurement now spills over to approx 13 million lit ( for peak periods) per day from 16,117 village milk cooperative societies, 17 member unions covering 24 districts, and 3.18 million milk producer members.

Kurein was a man who outlived his life by dreaming big and bringing a huge change not only to how organisations can work but also to how people, specially farmers and co-operatives, think.

That’s the way!

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