13 June, 2021

The Noble Milkman

If there was one thing Dr Kurien was brutal about it was integrity—there was no second chance given.

The Noble Milkman

Everyone knows Verghese Kurien made milk his life mission, which led to India becoming the largest producer of milk in the world. Remember, this was at a time when every international expert thought it would never be possible. The catch was that India was predominantly buffalo country (unlike the rest of the world)—every expert said buffalo milk could not be converted to milk powder. As the first can of buffalo milk powder came out, the only celebration Kurien allowed himself was sprinkling milk powder on the hair of his colleague H.M. Dalaya, who had assisted him in this unique feat.

The Sardar Patel-inspired milk cooperative movement in Gujarat is unique in many ways. Membership was equal, irrespective of caste, religion or the number of animals owned. Imagine the sight every morning: women queuing up to pour milk into a collection centre, not knowing whether the person ahead was a Hindu or a Muslim or the person behind was of a higher caste or lower. Imagine this being practised for over 50 years and the social change brought about in those villages. Imagine also...

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