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Verghese Kurien On a Roll

I’m reading Verghese Kurian’s autobiography I too had a dream – an authentic account of his life’s work, as told to Gauri Salvi. The following excerpt from the chapter On a Roll might persuade you to go buy the book.

There is nothing wrong in building flyovers in Delhi. What is not fair is when we do not also build an approach road to villages across the nation. There is nothing wrong in having fountains with coloured lights in the capital. After all, Delhi should be beautiful. But it is unjustified when we have not provided drinking water to all our villages. There is nothing wrong in having a modern, private hospital in Bombay, or the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Delhi, or other large medical institutions in our big cities. But it is not justified when we have not arranged to have two drops of a medicine put into the eyes of a farmer’s newborn baby, and that baby goes blind. While this would have cost us nothing, we have preferred to spend crores of rupees in building five-star hospitals in cities. Why does this happen? Because policy-making is in our hands — in the hands of the elite — and naturally, even unconsciously perhaps, when we make policies we make policies that suit us; we usurp the resources of this land somewhat shamelessly to benefit ourselves. The most charitable interpretation of it is that we do it unconsciously.

I opted to remain an employee of farmers all my life, not because I could not get a job in the city of Bombay or any other city anywhere else. It was only because I felt that I had the best job that I could ever get. Nor did I do it out of any great nobility of character — I did it because I realized I had a job which gave me the greatest pleasure, the greatest satisfaction. The idea of working for a large number of farmers translated itself into a concept of working for social good. I soon realized that money is not the only satisfaction that one can seek, that there are several other forms of satisfaction and all of these were available to me at Anand.