Prime Minister Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri created the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in 1965 to replicate the model nationally. Operation Flood began in 1970, and total annual milk procurement was only 190,000 tons, with 278,000 farmers involved in the program. By 1998, at the time of Dr Kurien’s retirement as chairman, the NDDB’s programs involved more than ten million dairy producers in 81,000 cooperatives, supplying almost five million tons of milk annually to over 1000 cities and towns throughout that country. Reaching nearly 250 million people, Operation Flood was the largest agricultural development program in the world.
India has also emerged as the largest producer of milk in the world, surpassing the United States. Dr. Kurien’s greatest contribution with Operation Flood was to put the farmer in command as the owner of her or his own cooperative – a pivotal factor in the program’s success. These cooperatives created a grassroots foundation underpinning India’s democracy. Dr. Kurien has received over 15 honorary degrees from universities in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and India.
His autobiographical book, 'I Too Had A Dream' consists of an interesting narrative. At a meeting of dairy farmers, Morarjibhai asks for volunteers to serve as chairman of the organization. A few people volunteer but Tribhuvandas Patel is sitting quietly and Morarjibhai asks him if he wants to be the chairman to which Patel says no. Morarjibhai makes him the Chairman and Kurien says: “Morarjibhai probably believed that if somebody wanted to be the chairman badly enough, then he would definitely have some vested interest..”
This is the contradiction with which Kurien has lived his life. That, on the one hand, he argues that the resources and destiny of the farmers should be put in their hands and they should be allowed to manage their own resources, at the same time they have to be protected from vested interests. In this sense, Kurien as the chairman of Gujarat Milk Federation was a balancing factor because he had no vested interests, but at the same time, he was occupying the post of governance, which going by the co-operative principles espoused by him should have been rightly occupied by a farmer. In today’s India, we need such a person to be in command of any institution. Kurien was an institution himself.
The most popular citizen journalists' reports on merinews chosen automatically on the basis of views and comments
View more jobs