Most parents make their children drink at least a glass of milk a day and why not? Milk is an important source of calcium, protein and other nutrients and benefits a child’s health. While the country has an abundance of milk today, the situation was quite different around the mid-20th century. And it all changed, thanks to Verghese Kurien, the man who is known as ‘Father of the White Revolution’ in India.
1. Verghese Kurien was born into a well-to-do Syrian Christian family in Kozhikode, Kerala, on November 26, 1921.
2. Kurien was only 14-years-old when he graduated in Science from Loyola College in 1940 and obtained an Engineering degree from Guindy College of Engineering in Chennai. Later, as destiny would have it, he studied Dairy Engineering, although he was unhappy with it at the time.
3. A keen military cadet and boxer at college, Kurien initially wanted to join the army as an engineer.
4. While posted at Anand, a municipality in Gujarat, which came to be known as the Milk Capital of India, Kurien found himself a home at Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Limited, run by Tribhuvandas Patel. As he packed his bags to leave, Patel asked him to help out the fledgling operation with technological support and those few months marked the turning point for Kurien, changing his life and that of hundreds of thousands of India’s farmers.
5. Patel bought new machinery, increasing the capacity of the cooperative from 200 litres of milk in 1948 to 20,000 litres in 1952, and the Anand model of cooperative started growing.
6. The word ‘Amul’ was suggested in 1957 by a chemist at the laboratory. It comes from a Sanskrit word “Amoolya” which means priceless. It also stood as an acronym for Anand Milk Union Limited.
7. A key invention at Amul, the world’s first, was the production of milk powder from the abundant buffalo milk, instead of from the conventional cow milk, short in supply in India.
8. Kurien received several awards, including the Ramon Magsaysay Award, Wateler Peace Prize, World Food Prize, Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan.
9. Kurien’s support was crucial in making, the ‘Amul girl’ ad campaign (advertising with a larger public message), one of the longest running for decades now.
10. Kurien died at the age of 90, after a brief spell of illness, on September 9, 2012 at a hospital in Nadiad, near Anand.