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Father of White Revolution Verghese Kurien passes away

Raipur, September 09, 2012: Father of the White Revolution Dr Verghese Kurien passed away today.

Kurien passed away early hours today at Nadiad in Gujarat after a brief illness, AMUL sources said.

He was 91 years old and survived by his wife, Molly Kurien, daughter Nirmala and grandson, Siddharth.

Kurien was the architect of India's White Revolution, which helped the country emerged as the largest milk producer in the world.

The undisputed 'Milkman' of India was born on November 26, 1921 at Kozhikode, Kerala. He graduated in Science from the Loyola College in 1940 and obtained his degree in Engineering from the Guindy College of Engineering in Chennai.

After a stint at TISCO, Jamshedpur, he obtained the Government of India scholarship to study Dairy Engineering. After some specialized training at the Imperial Institute of Animal Husbandry & Dairying, Bangalore, he left for the United States where he completed his Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering with Dairy Engineering as a minor subject from the Michigan State University in 1948.

Upon his return to India, Kurien was assigned to a Government Creamery located at Anand in Gujarat to serve his bond period. He arrived in Anand on Friday, the 13th May 1949. His only intention at that time was to obtain a release from his bond and get out of Anand as quickly as possible, the sources said.

At the end of 1949, when he got release orders from his job from the Government Creamery, he was all set and eager to pack off to Mumbai. However, Tribhuvandas Patel, the then Chairman of Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers Union (popularly known as Amul), with whom Kurien had developed a friendship requested him to stay on in Anand for some more time and help him put his cooperative society's dairy equipment together. Kurien decided to stay back for a few more days and stayed there forever.

His forced tenure at Anand changed the destiny of Indian Dairy industry. He started helping the fledgling dairy cooperative. The rest is history.

Founder Chairman of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) from 1965 to 1998, the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd (GCMMF) from 1973 to 2006 and the Institute of Rural Management (IRMA) from 1979 to 2006, his professional life has been dedicated to empowering the Indian farmers through cooperatives.

He believed that by placing technology and professional management in the hands of the farmers, the standard of living of millions of poor people can be improved.

The Operation Flood Programme, of which Milk Producers' Cooperatives were the central plank, emerged as India's largest rural employment programme and unleashed the larger dimension of dairy development.

The first Dairy Cooperative Union in Gujarat was formed in 1946 with 2 Village Dairy Cooperative societies as its members. The number of member societies has now increased to 16,100, with 3.2 million members pouring milk every day- twice a day. Today the Billion Dollar GCMMF has emerged as the India's largest integrated dairy products manufacturing and marketing organization.

NDDB, formed by the efforts of Kurien ensured replication of Amul Model across India. Thereby, it played an instrumental role in increasing the milk production of India significantly. India's milk procurement has increased from 20 million metric tonnes per year in the 60s to 122 million metric tonnes in 2011.

Kurien's main contribution has been in designing of systems and institutions, which enable people to develop themselves, as he believed the development of man can best be achieved by putting in his hands the instruments of development. He believed that the greatest assets of this country, were its people and he dedicated his life to the task of harnessing the power of the people in a manner which promoted their larger interests, AMUL sources said.

His work has received tremendous national and international recognition. The Government of India conferred on him the "Padma Vibhushan", the second highest honour in the land next only to Bharat Ratna. He is also the recipient of the 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 United States.

Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has condoled the passing away of Kurien. In a condolence message to Kurien's wife Molly Kurien, the Prime Minister described him as an icon of India's cooperative movement and the dairy industry.

"Dr Kurien was an outstanding and innovative manager and an exceptional human being. His contribution to the welfare of the farmer and agricultural production and development of the country is immeasurable. Dr Kurien was an icon of India's cooperative movement and the dairy industry," Singh said.

"In his long and illustrious career, Dr Kurien set up the Anand model of cooperative dairy development, engineered the White Revolution, and made India the largest milk producer in the world. His greatest contribution was to give a position of pre-eminence to the farmer and his or her interests rather than those of middlemen.

"I personally had a rewarding association with Dr Kurien and benefitted from his sagacity and vision. He has left behind a void that would be very difficult to fill. Dr Kurien will always be widely respected and admired for his ability to inspire and bring out the best from ordinary people," the Prime Minister said.

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