A series of biographical comics on the visionary dairy technologist Dr Verghese Kurien was launched at the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) auditorium here on Tuesday,to mark his 92nd birth anniversary. Titled Varghese Kurien: The Man with the Billon-Litre Idea,the comics was launched by Amar Chitra Katha and the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF).
Even as the clamour to own the political legacy of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel is becoming a matter of debate ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections,politicians remained conspicuous by their absence from the event that celebrated the man believed to be close to Patels family. In fact,Kurien took forward Patels initiative of the Milk Cooperative Society that has become the identity of Gujarat.
In fact,one of the comics shows Patels daughter Maniben affectionately speaking to Dr Kuriens wife Molly,who had found a friend in Maniben. She was fond of Kurien and greatly interested in the workings of the cooperative. Maniben is seen telling Molly in the comic,Molly,you must remember that you are only his second wife. He was already married to the dairy when you walked into his life. Molly says,Ha ha! You are quite right.
Nirmala,Kuriens daughter,paid an emotional tribute to her legendary father. She said that an apolitical tribute was the most befitting to the memory of the man who strove to erase the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
On Dr Kuriens first death anniversary on September 9 this year,GCMMF Chairman Vipul Chaudhary,now warming up to the BJP,had demanded a Bharat Ratna for Kurien for his contribution to the socio-economic uplift of milk producers and bringing the white revolution. However,Chaudhary,who was among the invitees,did not turn up. He also did not respond to calls by this paper.
It is the best form of tribute to a man who loved comics. In fact,Phantom was his favourite comic series and there are a stack of those still lying in his cupboard, Nirmala said. Nirmala did not make much of the absence of the political class on the birth anniversary of the Father of White Revolution. For my father,the tributes of milk farmers and children matter a lot and they were here. That is what matters the most. My father lived all his life trying to improve the conditions of farmers – comprising 70% of the country – so that they get their rightful due instead of being exploited. To him,it would not matter if politicians came to his event or not.
She shared Dr Kuriens penchant for sports,especially boxing,which he gave up after breaking his nose. He had won several tennis championships in India and the US. Nirmala said she had heard from Dr Kuriens colleagues that he was exact and uncompromising,unlike the gentle father that he was at home. She said,He always taught everyone to live a life that breathes excellence. When my son,Siddharth,once said he wanted to become a watchman so that he didnt have to study,my father said,Of course,you can be a watchman if I am a milkman. But be the best watchman like I am the best milkman. Such was his conviction.
A graphic biography of 32-pages,it traces Kuriens story right from the time he set foot in Anand to becoming the visionary,who not only changed the destiny of thousands of small,marginalised farmers but also gave India an identity as one of the largest milk producers of the world with his successful Operation Flood.
Vijay Sampath,CEO,ACK Media,said,We are glad that we have brought out the titles on the lives of those who have made a difference,before the voices recommending them are heard. Sampath said a digital version of the comics was likely in the near future. For now,the GCMMF plans to get the book translated into Hindi and Gujarati so that it can be distributed among the families of the Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers Union Limited,where Dr Kurien began his work. R S Sodhi,managing director,GCMMF said,Dr Kurien has been instrumental in changing the lives of over 15 million farmers. We will try to take the story of his life to as many people as we can. This is only the beginning.