The 1940s were turbulent times, the Second World War took a massive toll, the British were no longer the mightiest and had to give up control of a lot of their colonies. The Indian freedom struggle reached its peak and finally on August 15, 1947 India became a free nation. The nation was in a state of chaos, the Partition, the droughts and famines in various parts of the country caused by rampant mismanagement by the British Empire caused lot of problems for the new nation. One of the biggest challenges that the country faced was the poor supply of milk and lack of adequate food grains.
This article looks at the contributions of Verghese Kurien to the success of Operation Flood also known as the White Revolution that helped create the cooperative milk society culture in India. Kurien was born on 26 November 1921 in an affluent Syrian Christian family in Kozhikode in Kerala. He studied Physics at Loyola College and then went on to study Mechanical Engineering at the College of Engineering, Guindy. Then he joined the Tata Technical Institute in Jamshedpur and was sent to the USA on a scholarship to study Metallurgical Engineering at Michigan State University.
As part of his government deputation, Kurien was sent to the town of Anand in Gujarat. Here along with Tribhuvandas Patel would start one of independent India’s most uplifting stories of team-work, growth and scientific thought. Breaking the shackles of milk production that was controlled by the rich zamindars and politicians; Kurien and Tribhuvandas would go on to set up a milk cooperative. The success of this project saw the mushrooming of similar projects all over the country and the launch of one of India’s most popular brands – ‘Amul’.
Kurien would go on to head many prestigious government projects and attain success. He was known to be a man of great determination and a visionary who believed in the collective goodness of people. He commanded respect from people across social strata. The irony of the whole thing was he the Father of the White Revolution never liked to drink milk! Kurien was conferred honorary doctorates by leading universities from around the world. He died after a brief illness in 2012.
As we celebrate his 94th birthday. Google has put up a doodle honouring his contributions to the growth of the Indian economy.
Are you keen on working as a food scientist or a plant geneticist? Then you may wish to look at some of the following top-ranked programmes:
- Master of Science in Agriculture offered by the University of New England
- Master of Science in Plant Breeding, Genetics and Biotechnology – Horticulture offered by Michigan State University
- Master of Philosophy in Agricultural Systems offered by Bangor University
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