Dr Verghese Kurien From Mechanical Engineer to Milkman

Dr Verghese Kurien From Mechanical Engineer to Milkman

Dr. Verghese Kurien (26 November 1921 – 9 September 2012)

Dr Verghese Kurien, who came to be known as the Milkman of India, began his career as a mechanical engineer. But later he turned to dairy engineering and became the architect of the world’s largest dairy development programme, Operation Flood.

He dedicated his life to the welfare of Gujarat’s cattle owners and turned the state’s dairy co-operative sector into one of the most successful cooperative models in the world. Dr Kurien’s strategy for the sector ensured that private multinational dairy companies, such as Nestle, could never capture a big share of the Indian market. The defeat of dairy multinationals at the hands of a little-known cooperative of Gujarat woke up the world which began studying Kurien’s experiment with the aim of replicating it.
Born on November 26, 1921 at Kozhikode in Kerala, Dr Kurien graduated with a degree in physics from Loyola College, Madras in 1940. He also did his bachelors in mechanical engineering from Madras University.

For a brief period, he worked at Tata Iron and Steel Company in Jamshedpur. Then he got the Indian government’s scholarship to study dairy engineering.

After receiving specialised training in dairy engineering at the Imperial Institute of Animal Husbandry and Dairying in Bangalore, Dr Kurien went to the US where he earned a Masters degree in mechanical engineering from Michigan State University in 1948. For his Masters degree too, he had taken dairy engineering as a minor subject.

On his return to India from the US in 1948, Dr Kurien joined the Indian government’s dairy department. In May 1949, he was appointed dairy engineer at Government Research Creamery, a milk powder factory, in Anand.

Today private dairies are in awe of Amul’s name but in the 1950s, the newly-formed cooperative dairy, Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Limited, was struggling for survival against Polson Dairy, a giant in the sector.

Kurien took Kaira milk union’s struggle as a challenge and left his secure government job. He joined hands with Tribhuvandas Patel, the then chairman of Kaira union to set up a processing plant. Together, they created the Anand Milk Union Ltd (Amul).

Article Source: DNA (http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_dr-verghese-kurien-from-mechanical-engineer-to-milkman_1738927)