27 July, 2021

Dr Verghese Kurien (1921-2012) Amul

The astonishingly ­effective movement Kurien led changed the lives of millions of dairy farmers and took India from a milk-deficient nation to one of the world’s largest ­producers of milk.

Photograph by Getty Images
Dr Verghese Kurien (1921-2012) Amul
  • He helped push  India’s milk ­production to 127.9 million tonnes in 2011-12


In the paradoxical light that past events reveal themselves to us, two facts stand out. One, Verghese Kurien, father of the White Revolution, was as distant as possible from a certain ideal currently preferred. As The Economist noted wryly in its obituary, “He was born a Christian, became an atheist, ate beef, and liked a drink—but not milk. In fact, he actively disliked it.” And he spent all his working life in Gujarat—a different kind of laboratory then. Two, by the revisionist understanding we have of our revolutions, it turns out the white one too may have done its share of harm. Focusing on productivity and volumes, like the green one, it probably overdid the interbreeding with Jerseys and Holsteins and brought native breeds to a perilous pass—with the attendant health debates on A1 versus A2 milk. But these may be indulgences of luxury. Back in those ship-to-mouth days, the astonishingly...

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