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Tribute to Dr. Verghese Kurien, Last of India’s Nation Builders

Amul’s Tribute (of course)

I spent the better part of my Sunday time skimming through tribute messages on Twitter, Facebook shares and reading what the mainstream media had to write about Dr. Verghese Kurien – the last of India’s nation builders (Hat tip to @shilpaanand for that highly apt moniker.)

As my personal tribute to Dr. Kurien, I’ve curated a set of tweets, images and articles that have truly done justice to his legacy.

[Sep 22 update: the best feature came from Economic Times – VRemembering Verghese Kurien.]

[Sep 24 update: the second-best feature came from Tushaar Shah – Verghese Kurien’s obituary.]

Hindustan Times wrote the best third-best feature – Verghese Kurien, Amul man who empowered and enriched farmers. Two beautiful pictures, an accurate and endearing biography – partially excerpted below with a quote from the current GCMMF chairman.

He made the ordinary, neighbourhood ‘doodhwala’ (milkman) a key player in the country’s struggle for economic development and progress at the grassroot level.

Arriving in Anand on a hot May 13 in 1949, Kurien was a harried man, only waiting to be released from his bond and leave the place as quickly as possible.

He got his release orders after six months and was all set to pack up and go to the city of big bucks, Bombay (now, Mumbai) – but a minor incident halted him in his tracks.

Just as he was preparing his exit, Tribhuvandas Patel, the then chairman of Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers Union, popularly known as ‘Amul’, with whom Kurien had developed a good friendship, requested him to stay back in Anand for some more time and help him organise his co-operative society’s dairy equipment.

Kurien stayed back for a few more days…going on to become a legend through Operation Flood, launched in 1971.

“His forced tenure at Anand changed the destiny of the entire Indian dairy sector. He help the fledgling dairy co-operative movement and was forced to stay there to see it flourish. The rest is history,” Sodhi said.

The article from Economic Times comes second – Verghese Kurien, the milkman dies today after prolonged illness. Nothing noteworthy about the pieces from TOI and India Today. DNA keeps it brief but manages to catch one of Kurien’s ironies – Interestingly, the ‘milkman’ of India did not consume milk himself. He used to say, “I do not drink milk as I don’t like it.”

The Hindu Businessline, perhaps in a hurry to get the piece out, makes a few stupid errors. The writer has clearly not done his homework (as in reading Dr. Kurien’s memoirs). He writes about some ‘legend’ about Sardar Patel sending Kurien to Anand with ‘Don’t return until you’ve solved their problems’. He also refers to Sardar Patel as Kurien’s mentor. In reality, Kurien’s mentor is Tribhuvandas – a wealthy farmer who took up the cause of the Kaira district farmers much before Kurien even came to Anand – a widely known fact and acknowledged multiple times in his memoirs.

[Sep 10 Update: The Man who revolutionized white – this feature provides redemption to the Hindu brand.]

[Sep 12 Update: Life and times of Verghese Kurien (by R.P. Aneja) and India’s Accidental Dairy King (by Manu Joseph.]

[Sep 22 Update: Verghese Kurien’s obituary in Economic Times.]

And now for the fun tweets from Twitter.

Just after I hit the publish button, I came across this beautiful personal tribute from Forbes India’s Mitu Jayashankar.

The (updated) Verghese Kurien wikipedia page is of course chock full of information including the complete list of awards he won during his nearly seven decades of service to India.