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Sep 09, 2012 at 02:34pm IST

Remembering Verghese Kurien, the Milkman of India

Anand: Everyday at the crack of dawn, more than 10 million dairy farmers in Gujarat begin a journey that has given them economic independence. Verghese Kurien was 28 when he came to Anand in 1949 and was soon working hard to help a budding cooperative to grow. For him, the dairy farmers were the rightful owners of the milk business.

In a buffalo dominated country, Kurien revolutionised the milk industry when he produced milk powder from buffalo milk. The rest of the world used cow milk to make milk powder.

"They saw powder coming... I said this is the powder from buffalo milk for the first time in the world..." Kurien notably said.

By 1955, the co-operative owned Asia's largest dairy and was producing more than 20,000 litres of milk a day. It was time to give themselves a name. "We all knew that to sell, we must have a brand and one of our chemists suggested Anand Milk Union Ltd or Amul, which meant 'amulya' or 'priceless' in Sanskrit.

Kurien soon replicated the Anand model throughout India as Operation Flood, making India the world's largest producer of milk.

Today, over 10 million farmers across the country at 200 dairies produce over 20 million litres of milk a day.

Kurien revolutionised the lives of rural Gujaratis. There was always milk production in Gujarat but no dairy development programme.

As the milk man of India celebrated his 90th birthday, he made an honest confession, that he did not like milk and he did not drink it. "The only message I can give is, carry on... carry on..." he once said.

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