INDIACSR News Network
NEW DELHI: There is a spontaneous demand from ordinary Indians for a Bharat Ratna for India’s milkman Dr Verghese Kurien (November 26, 1921- September 9, 2012), who passed away recently at the age of 90. India talks socialism and pays lip service to poverty alleviation. But when it comes to the highest civilian award for exemplary service—we do not adequately recognise the work of this giant individual who transformed lives in rural India.
Verghese Kurian, gave up his home state of Kerala to build a unique milk co-operative movement, which transformed the lives of millions of poor rural Indians. He make them self-sufficient. He empowered women. He eradicated poverty in a pocket of India. But thats not all. In Amul, he built one of the biggest brands in India. One that we are all proud of.
By 1955, the co-operative owned Asia’s largest dairy and was producing more than 20,000 litres of milk a day. It was time to give themselves a name. “We all knew that to sell, we must have a brand and one of our chemists suggested Anand Milk Union Ltd or Amul, which meant ‘amulya’ or ‘priceless’ in Sanskrit.
Here are 10 reasons why India must recognize this Bharat Ratna officially.
1. His breadth of vision was stunning; no matter how familiar we may be with it: transforming India from a milk-deficit country to the world’s largest milk producer and doing it through the co-operative route so that women and small farmers were empowered and found an additional source of revenue to augment their farm income.
2. In doing so he brightened the future of a millions of children by ensuring they had access to milk when they needed it the most, in their childhood.
3. Operation Flood or the White Revolution worked, not because it was a social experiment, but because of Dr Kurien’s shrewdness and strategic vision in creating a national marketing machine that matched the best multinationals in wits.
4. It also worked because he built Amul into one of India’s biggest brands since independence. Its mascot, the Amul girl has charmed the nation for half a century.
5. Dr Kurien had the ability to recognize and nurture the finest talent and give them room to deliver—he did this with its advertising agency, to create the iconic outdoor campaign which the “utterly butterly delicious Amul” tagline that comments on everyday events.
6. In building Amul, Dr Kurien demonstrated that efficiency isn’t dependent on profit motive alone as is the modern belief. Because he remained unaffected by the mountain of money that he controlled in the 1970s and 1980s—over Rs 2,000 crore in liquid cash at one stage.
7. Importantly, Dr Kurien’s genius at Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) and the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) and the creation of an iconic brand in Amul happened in a closed and highly restrictive economy.
8. India has no other brand of a similar stature even from the private sector in the 30 years since Amul or even in the 20 years after economic liberalization.
9. History will remember Dr Kurien as India’s real Bharat Ratna because no individual has impacted Indian lives the way he did in the last 50 years.
10. By giving Dr Kurien the recognition that he richly deserves, the government will demonstrate that our highest civilian award goes to a person who has truly lived up to the socialist ideals that India embraced at independence.