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Dr. Verghese Kurien 

I was fortunate to meet Dr. Kurien in the year 2003 and could spend some valuable time with him. We both had one thing in common – he was born in Kozhikode (Calicut in Malabar) and so was I. And the comparison abruptly ended there! He was older than my father and reminded me about the sternness of men of yesteryears. No mincing of words and annoyingly frank too. He said, “My philosophy in life is to do as much good as I can to those who are less fortunate, but I would like to live my life as a common man”. His thoughts and deeds have significantly influenced my work in communities which I could pursue with some doggedness since 2006 till date. 

Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd

His words “I am in the business of empowerment. Milk is just a tool in that” still resonates well with me. If you want to know more about this wonderful person, please read his book “I too had a Dream”.  He transformed India from a milk deficient nation to one of the world’s biggest milk producers. He lived his humble life until 2012 and passed away at the age of 90 in Nadiad in the Kheda district of Gujarat. 

The name Dr Kurien is synonymous with AMUL that revolutionised the landscape of the humble milk and empowered the modest Indian farmer. He made the milk revolution possible in India, directly empowering millions of rural milk producers by getting them to embrace the cooperative method and giving them decent lives and livelihoods, was the founder of the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd (GCMMF). He has championed cooperatives as the most suitable way of creating and distributing wealth, as is evident in the performance particularly of the milk cooperatives in Gujarat, where the AMUL (or Anand Milk Union Limited) model originated. Dr Kurien’s entrepreneurial management of NDDB was based on his belief that if a cooperative is to deliver true value, it must be run as a highly competitive business, be able to create and seize opportunities, and must leverage the advantages of marketing and branding. The AMUL model, developed over several decades, has stood the test of time and been successfully replicated in other states. It has made an enormous difference to the lives of millions of farmers, boosting their livelihoods and offering steady income in regions where the best part of agriculture is still a gamble on the monsoons.

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