India’s White Revolution

- September 7, 2020


By Nitya Menon “I am like a cat, throw me wherever you want to, I will still stand on my feet. Eight hours for dairy, eight hours for family and eight hours for sleep”- Dr Verghese Kurien Do you know who brings milk all the way to your home every morning? Of course, it is the milkman! But do you know who was popularly known as the “The Milkman of India”? This legendary personality was Dr Verghese Kurien, the brains behind the birth of India’s biggest milk manufacturer, Amul! For his mammoth efforts in the field of dairy, Dr Kurien is also known as the Father of White Revolution in India. Illustration: Zoheb Akbar Dr Verghese Kurien was born to a Christian family in Calicut (present day Kozhikode), Kerala in 1921. Dr Kurien went on to earn a degree in B.Sc Physics from Loyola College in Madras, and then went to the US on a government scholarship to pursue mechanical engineering. On returning to India, he was assigned to spend five years as an officer in the government’s Dairy division as payback for his scholarship. That’s when he saw the ruthless exploitation of dairy farmers in the villages. Till the mid-20th century, they were always exploited by milk distributors, with entire regions under the tight control of shrewd businessmen. Looking at the struggle of these farmers, Dr Kurien, along with Tribhuvandas Patel, took up the mission to unite them and better their cause. Dr Kurien decided to quit his job and started the Milk Cooperative movement, which was later rechristened as Amul. Under Dr Kurien’s stewardship, ‘Operation Flood’ was launched in 1970, kickstarting India’s White Revolution. It was based on an experimental pattern set by Dr Kurien himself. This program created a national milk grid, linking producers throughout India, reducing seasonal price fluctuations, and ensuring milk producers get a major share of the income generated from end consumers. This program also made sure farmers get fair market prices on a regular basis. All this was achieved by the cooperative structure. The backbone of ‘Operation Flood’ has always been the milk producers at the village leve...

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