Joseph Purathurkittan is his name. He lives with the dream of finishing the unfinished agenda of Vergese Kurien. He was kicked, fired and ousted from the cooperative fraternity. But he refuses to let go of his dream. Joseph is a rattle-box once the subject Kurien crops up in discussions.
But it is true that few understand Kurien better than him. Why should a nuclear physicist from Michigan University want to get lost in the backwaters of Gujarat, he asks. It was not milk, Joshep gets animated, it was empowerment of farmers, it was social revolution and it was making the pyramid stand on its head.
Milk was a tool no doubt. Kurien wanted to empower rural India and he chose milk as the means. Farmers became producer-owner in the cooperative revolution that was unleashed by Kurien in the Gujarat villages transforming India into the largest producer of milk relegating the US to number two in the world, he adds.
Tell me why would world bank give unsolicited loans to Amul, or for that matter why heads of states one after the other would come visiting Gujarat? To see the success of a commercial venture or meet Kurien? Joseph says an emphatic no. They were amused by the social empowerment of the very poor as it was a unique experiment unheard of anywhere else in the world.
Readers would be aware that Joseph joined Kurien as his Private Assistant in 1991 and stayed with him when everyone left him. During Kurien-Amrita spat even Kurien’s daughter was opposed to Joseph. She felt Kurien is losing all the hard-earned reputation due to Joseph. But Kurien never lost faith in me, he told Indian Cooperative.
Joseph has been equally opposed to the NDDB agenda in which the latter is focusing more on commercialization than on development of cooperatives as originally envisioned by the statutory formulation. “What the NDDB does not understand is that even a huge profit earned by it cannot transform the countryside –the reason Kurien opposed Amrita.
She was touted as modern, forward looking and ushering in a new era in dairy production. But people failed to understand the real meaning of Kurien. Kurien was more for farmers’ empowerment than for anything else. The world failed him as did his protégé Amrit Patel, remorsed Joseph.