Biography Text Size Dr. His father Puthenparakkal Kurien was a civil surgeon in British Cochin and his mother was a highly educated woman as well an exceptional piano player. He was named after his uncle Rao Sahib P. K Verghese. Sc in Physics.
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This according to him, developed his sense of independence. He lost his father at 22 and his great uncle moved his family to his home in Trichur now Thrissur. A keen military cadet and a boxer at college, when he wanted to join the army as an engineer, his mother persuaded him to join the Tata Steel Technical Institute, Jamshedpur on a recommendation to the management by his uncle, who was a director with the Tatas, and from where he graduated in , but soon found himself wanting to get away from the hangers-on and yesmen of his uncle.
He was thus, sent to the Imperial Institute of Animal Husbandry in Bangalore now, National Dairy Research Institute, southern station, Bengaluru where he spent nine months, and merely bid time out to be sent to America.
Later, he would say, "I was sent to I cheated a bit though,  and studied metallurgical and nuclear engineering, disciplines He began to while away his time going off to Bombay city on weekends and on some pretext of work or else, volunteering 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 , forming a cooperative society to purchase their milk, at Kaira now, Kheda nearby.
He had already made up his mind to quit the government job mid-way and leave Anand but, was persuaded by Tribhuvandas to stay back with him after quitting them, and help him set up his dairy. Kurien, Tribhuvandas and Dalaya at their dairy plant at Anand in Foundation of the dairy and its pattern[ edit ] The farmers faced a problem of fluctuating milk production as surplus milk would find no takers in the flush season, and turned to the cooperative for help, where an idea took root to try convert this surplus to milk powder.
Dalaya, who he persuaded to stay back at Anand after a mere visit, invented the process of making skim milk powder and condensed milk from buffalo milk, instead of from cow milk, said impossible by dairy experts around the world. This was the reason Amul would compete successfully and well against Nestle, the leading competitor, which used cow milk to make them, and later against Glaxo for baby food. Later research by Dr. Wilster led to cheese production from buffalo milk at Amul. It then took on established competitors, viz.
Political and social conditions were favourable[ edit ] He and his mentor Tribhuvandas were backed by quite a few political leaders and bureaucrats of the time who saw merit in their pioneering cooperative model, of farmers willing to associate together for their produce and willing to be led by professionals even whilst being owners of the cooperative. The nation had just gained political freedom from a colonial power who the leaders had seen extorting land tax unjustly from farmers in the face of crop failure.
There had been many famines over the duration of that regime, so leaders were concerned over food security of the population.
Being a newly independent nation, there was a desire to gain self-sufficiency in its consumed produce and therefore the thrust to indigenous production to substitute imports. Moreover, these nationalist leaders were influenced by socialist ideals of formation of social capital more than the formation of capital assets, and the Gandhian philosophy of production by masses triumphing mass-production in a resource-constrained nation.
Rather than focusing directly on removing caste and class conflicts which get entrenched as vested interests, instead, he worked singularly on the belief that economic self-interest of all sections of the village-society would make them align together to grow their cooperative. Dignitaries, researchers and trainees,  and common folk alike, would visit Anand to learn more about it. Amul faced serious competition from imported butter, especially from New Zealand.
The then finance minister came to trust Kurien so much, that whenever Kurien would ask him to cut imports of butter it would be done every time, in tandem with a mere promise of an incremental increase of his production to make good any shortage. And every single time he kept his word and the markets never faced any shortage of butter. He had to divert these away from his civilian market.
Impressed, PM asks him to replicate it nationwide He was bold in dealing with donors like the UNICEF for aid,  and confronted the New Zealand government and a powerful lobby in countries which, he realised with some foresight, wanted to "convert aid into trade" for their companies, at a cross-purpose to his wanting India to convert aid to become self-made.
As what the donors would eventually come to want, would have harmed his fledgling dairies,  instead, he used the proceeds from the sale of that "mountains and lakes" of dumped aid in the Indian markets as his "billion-litre idea" to stem the movement of high-yield cattle of native breeds to urban areas, which subsequently, would face needless slaughter, reverse this flow by setting up milksheds and dairies all over the nation and stabilise the markets of big cities for their ensuing produce.
In return, Kurien would engage them for their expertise on salaries arranged from the aid money. Intervening in markets of other produce and aiding internationally[ edit ] He prevailed on prime ministers, Indira Gandhi and Rajiv Gandhi on setting up cooperatives and plants, and manage the intervention in fruits and vegetables and oilseeds and edible oils markets during their tenures, respectively,  like he had done for milk during Operation Flood.
He played a key role in setting up similar cooperatives across India and outside. In , Pakistan invited him to set up dairy cooperatives, where he went leading a World Bank mission. Then prime minister Narasimha Rao sought his help to set up the dairy cooperative of neighbouring Sri Lanka which was done by NDDB, later in , in a collaboration with them.
Dominating the markets and aftermath[ edit ] In the s he lobbied and fought hard to keep multinational companies from entering the dairy business even as the country opened up all its other markets to them following globalisation, after decades of protection. In , he prevailed upon then prime minister Vajpayee to appoint Dr.
In popular culture[ edit ] Film-maker 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 a token two rupees each for the making of the movie.
It struck a chord with the audience when it was released in Gujarat in Truckloads of farmers came to see "their film", making it a success at the box office, emboldening distributors to release it before audiences nationwide. It was critically acclaimed and went on to win national awards the following year, was later shown on national television and was sent for Oscar. Hum sab milke chalayenge isko. Kya un logon ki hai yeh! Sisoti aapdi chhe! Aapdi banaayi! Heck, we will run it.
All of us together. No need anyone else! The cooperative society belongs to us, made by us! Matthai , the first director of Indian Institute of Management at Ahmedabad nearby, on setting up an institute, from scratch, ground-up ie. Kurien died after a brief spell of illness aged 90 on 9 September at a Nadiad hospital,   near Anand,  followed by his wife a few months later in Mumbai.
She hosted the endless stream of visitors to Anand. She would say that he worked hard but never brought work back home and was in bed by 9 pm, only to wake up in the dead of night to catch the earliest morning flight after some road travel.
Brought up a Christian, Kurien later became an atheist,   and was cremated. Kurien, who spent most of his life in Gujarat and gained the affection and the respect of its people, was unable to get any landlord to rent him a room when he first arrived in Anand, as besides being unable to speak the language of the place, he was "a bachelor, a non-vegetarian and a Christian".
He never spoke the language of the state despite understanding it later on, nor was he used to drinking milk.
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