|Birth Day:||November 26, 1921|
|Death Date:||9 September 2012(2012-09-09) (aged 90)
Nadiad, Gujarat, India
|Birth Place:||Calicut, (Madras Presidency) (now Kozhikode, Kerala, India), India|
As per our current Database, Verghese Kurien died on 9 September 2012(2012-09-09) (aged 90)
Nadiad, Gujarat, India.
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Kurien was born on 26 November 1921 in Kozhikode, Kerala, to a Syrian Anglican Christian family. He attended school at Diamond Jubilee Higher Secondary School, Gobichettipalayam, in Coimbatore district (now Erode district, Tamil Nadu) while his father worked as a civil surgeon at the government hospital there. He joined Loyola College in Madras (now Chennai) at the age of 14, graduated in physics in 1940, and received a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering from the College of Engineering, Guindy, which at that time was part of the University of Madras, in 1943. His father died when he was 22 years old and his great uncle moved his family to his home in Trichur (now Thrissur). He wanted to join the army as an engineer, but his mother persuaded him to join the Tata Steel Technical Institute, Jamshedpur, on a recommendation by his uncle, who was a director with the Tatas, and from where he graduated in 1946. He soon wanted to disassociate with his uncle's sycophants.
Kurien left and applied for a scholarship provided by the government of India, and chose to study dairy engineering. His uncle John Matthai, the finance minister, refused to bail him out. He was sent to the Imperial Institute of Animal Husbandry in Bangalore (now, National Dairy Research Institute, southern station, Bengaluru) where he spent nine months before being sent to America to study at Michigan State University. He returned with a master's degree in mechanical engineering (metallurgy) with a minor in nuclear physics in 1948.
In 1949, Kurien was sent by the government of India to its run-down, experimental creamery at Anand, Bombay province (later Bombay state and now part of Gujarat state since 1960). He spent time going to Bombay city on weekends and under the pretext of work, volunteered to tinker with the primitive dairy equipment of Tribhuvandas Patel, who sought his help to process the milk of farmers he had brought together after a strike in 1946, and formed a cooperative to purchase their milk at nearby Kaira (now, Kheda).
In 1956, Kurien visited Nestle in Switzerland at the invitation of the commerce and industries minister, to ask them to reduce imports of Indian production and have more Indians inducted, but they told him that making condensed milk "could not be left to the natives". He returned to India and boosted Amul's production and market of condensed milk; after two years the government banned the import of condensed milk into the country. Amul also faced serious competition from imported butter, especially from New Zealand. Nehru, who trusted Kurien, cut imports of butter in tandem, with Kurien promising and delivering an incremental increase of his production to eliminate butter shortage. During the 1962 Indo-China war, the government relied on Kurien to provide supplies to the army. He had to divert these away from his civilian market. When Polson started grabbing his market share, Kurien ensured the government froze Polson's production lines, as part of the war effort.
In 1965, Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri tasked Kurien to replicate the dairy's Anand scheme nationwide for which, the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) was founded under Kurien on his conditions, that it be independent of governmental control and that it be set up at Anand, away from the capitals and closer to farmers. Kurien was mindful of meddling by the political class and bureaucrats sitting in the capital cities, letting it be known upfront.
The Anand dairy was replicated in Gujarat's districts around it and he set brought all of them under Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd. (GCMMF) in 1973 to sell their products under a single Amul brand. Many states emulated setting up their federations based on this scheme with varying degrees of success, notably, with Karnataka's brand Nandini, Rajasthan's brand Saras and Bihar's brand Sudha.
Filmmaker Shyam Benegal wanted to make Manthan ("churning of the milk ocean", in Hindu mythology) a story based on Amul, but lacked funds. Kurien got his half a million member-farmers to contribute two rupees to make the movie, which was released in 1976. Many farmers came to see "their film" and made it a success at the box office, which emboldened distributors to release it to nationwide audiences.
In 1979, he founded the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) to groom managers for the cooperatives.
Kurien was crucial in setting up similar cooperatives across India and beyond. In 1979, Premier Alexei Kosygin invited Kurien to the Soviet Union for advice on its cooperatives. In 1982, Pakistan invited him to set up dairy cooperatives, where he led a World Bank mission. Around 1989, China implemented its own Operation Flood-like programme with the help of Kurien and the World Food Programme. Former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao sought his help to set up a dairy cooperative in neighbouring Sri Lanka which was done as a collaboration with NDDB later in 1997.
In 1998, he persuaded former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to appoint Dr. Amrita Patel as his successor at NDDB, whom he had groomed under him to keep government bureaucrats away from the post and protect NDDB's independence from the government. Later, he had differences with her on the direction she was taking cooperative dairying—by solely focusing on production and yield targets through corporatisation and competition at the expense of weakening the cooperative institutions of the country. For instance, marketing no longer remaining with the farmers' cooperatives and being handed over to private or corporate interests, as that would mean foregoing the ability to determine the price to be paid by consumers, the quality of the produce to be offered to them, and losing the "lion's share" of the money paid by the consumer to these corporates.
He resigned from the position of GCMMF Chairman in 2006 after dwindling support from new members on the governing board and mounting dissent from his protegés (some referring to his work ethic as dictatorial) backed by political forces desperate to make inroads into the cooperative dairy's district unions.
Kurien died from an illness at the age of 90 on 9 September 2012 at a Nadiad hospital, near Anand. His wife hosted the visitors in Anand. Kurien was brought up as a Christian before becoming an atheist. He was cremated and is survived by a daughter and grandson.
In 2013, Amar Chitra Katha published the comic book Verghese Kurien: The Man with the Billion Litre idea.
In 2014, all the major dairy groups in the country, along with the Indian Dairy Association, resolved to observe Kurien's birthday, 26 November, as National Milk Day.
Currently, Verghese Kurien is 99 years, 8 months and 6 days old. Verghese Kurien will celebrate 100th birthday on a Friday 26th of November 2021.
Find out about Verghese Kurien birthday activities in timeline view here.