Dr Verghese Kurian was a believer in the importance of cooperative leadership in protecting, preserving and exemplifying the values of cooperation against those who seek power and patronage.
He transformed India from a milk deficient country into one of the biggest milk producers in the world. Under his able leadership Anand became the milk capital of the country where Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and Institute of Rural Management, (IRMA) are located.
His vision of the dairy cooperative sector links over 10 million farmers at 200 dairies across the country producing more than 20 million litres of milk everyday. He was awarded Padma Bhushan, Padma Vibhushan, Magasaysay Award and other National and International awards.
His biggest contribution was to unite millions of women and farmers in the Dairy Cooperative sector and create a brand known as AMUL. As Chairman of NDDB he began Operation Flood that spanned more than 2 decades and eventually ushered in the white revolution in the country.
Many countries replicated the Anand Model and became self-reliant in milk and milk processing industries. Thanks to his efforts, Institute of Rural Management Anand was set up for R & D and training on various aspects of management of rural cooperatives.
The IRMA has been a totally unique institution giving impetus to young brains to understand rural development and issues of farmers. He stood like a rock against bureaucratic difficulties at different points of time to ensure the growth of GCMMF and NDDB. He nurtured these organisations and developed a second line of command.
The ultimate tribute to Dr. V. Kurien would be to protect and preserve what he stood for throughout his life. The cooperative movement in India is at a crossroads. It is the duty of us cooperators to build and strengthen a genuine cooperative movement in the country to project the interests of farmers and other weaker sections of society.
(Mr Eknath Thakur is the Chairman of Saraswat Bank, the biggest cooperative bank of India)