Dr Verghese Kurien belonged to a rare group. He was a visionary – with vision of improving the lives of the millions. He facilitated a change for disadvantaged sections of the society and ultimately helped the nation in acheiving self-dependece. He is the man who had put a small town of Anand on the world map and made AMUL (Anand Milk Union Limited) a house hold name in India.
Dr. Kurien was born on November 26, 1921 in small town of Kozhikode in Kerala. He graduated with a Degree in Physics from Loyola College, Madras (now Chennai). Subsequently, he also completed his bachelor’s in Mechanical engineering from Madras University. For a brief period, he also worked in Tata Iron and Steel Company before receiving a government scholarship to dairy engineering. This was a turning point in his career – from Mechanical engineer to King of dairy. He received special training in dairy engineering at Imperial Institute of Animal Husbandry and dairying in Banglore. Then he went to USA for the Master degree in Mechanical Engineering from Michigan University. There also, he had chosen dairy engineering as a minor subject.
On his return from US in 1948, he joined Indian government’s dairy operation. He worked as a dairy engineer in 1949 at government research Creamery, a small milk powder factory in Anand. During this time, a small cooperative dairy union “Kheda District ‘Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Limited (KDCMPUL)” was struggling to stay afloat against a privately-owned giant Polson dairy. Dr. Kurien was appalled by the bullying attitude of Polson dairy and wanted to help the small societies with the knowledge he had possessed during dairy engineering education. Taking this as a challenge, he formed AMUL. And as the saying goes, rest is history.
AMUL model became success and immediately caught the attention of the government. Then Prime Minister, Lal Bahadur Shahstri, established the National dairy development Board (NDDB) under the leadership of Dr. Kurien. The intention was to implement the AMUL success story in whole of the India. He also played a pivotal role in creating ‘Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF)’ to market the products developed by dairies. The entrepreneur look of this institution has given confidence and courage to other emerging players to start their own dairies. Soon, under the tremendous leadership of Dr. Kurien, India has become the world’s largest milk producing nation.
Government of India showed the gratitude by awarding him Padma Shri (1965), Padma Bhushan (1966) and Padma Vibhushan (1999). He certainly deserves a Bharat Ratna for his contribution to catering the demand of ever growing population and making India a self-dependent country in terms of milk and milk products. (Please read about Indian Honor system)
He was also awarded with numerous international accolades such as Ramon Magsaysay (1963), Wateler Peace Prize (1986) and Word Food Prize Laureate (1989).
His biography is motivation for men like me and millions others. He challenged the belief system of A nation, the corporate and billions of common man and showed the way for success with hard work and dedication.