Verghese Kurien

Verghese Kurien (MS Mech Egr '48), the architect of India's "white revolution" that transformed the country from a milk-deficient country to the world's biggest milk producer, died September 9, 2012, at age 90.

Hailed as the "Milkman of India" who created the billion-dollar brand Amul, Kurien had received both national and international recognition. He is credited with laying the foundation for the nation's co-operative dairy model.

Kurien graduated with a science degree from Loyola College in Chennai, India, in1940 and obtained his bachelor's degree in engineering from the Guindy College of Engineering in Chennai, India. Kurien came to the United States where he completed his master's degree in mechanical engineering with dairy engineering as a minor subject.

On his return to India, Kurien helped to set up a dairy processing plant, which saw the birth of Amul. Amul's co-operative model became a success and it was replicated throughout Gujarat, a state in western India. The different dairy unions were later brought under the banner of Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF).

Impressed by the success of Amul, then-Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri established the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) to replicate the Amul model across the country; Kurien was made its chairman.

NDDB launched "Operation Flood" in 1970, making India the largest milk producer in the world. Kurien served as chairman of NDDB for 33 years—from 1965 to 1998. His main contribution was in designing systems and institutions, which enabled people to develop themselves, as he believed the development of man can best be achieved by putting in his hands the instruments of development.

Interestingly, the "milkman" of India did not consume milk himself. He used to say, "I do not drink milk as I don't like it."