By Amrita Patel
Verghese Kurien came to Anand more than 60 years ago after completing his graduation in the US, intending to leave soon. But drawn by the power of an idea-milk producers cooperating to build a better life- he stayed. Today, after a lifetime of service that touched millions of lives, Kurien passed away in the small town he never left.
When Kurien arrived in Anand, there was a fledgling dairy cooperative born of the Independence movement. The cooperative’s chairman, Tribhuvandasbhai Patel’s skill in motivating people combined with Dr Kurien’s entrepreneurial qualities, helped transform the business into a model for dairying.
In 1964, then PM Lal Bahadur Shastri visited Anand and created the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) to replicate the spirit of Anand throughout India and asked Kurien to be its first chairman . Kurien accepted on the condition that the headquarters remained in Anand.
Establishing some 1,50,000 cooperatives with about 15 million members, and leading India to become the world’s largest milk producer was no mean feat. He strode like a Titan across bureaucratic barriers at every stage of NDDB’s history. The ultimate tribute to Kurien would be to protect what he stood for. May his vision continue to guide us.
(Dr Amrita Patel is the chairperson of NDDB)