Sunday ka Funda

...for Dr Verghese Kurien 

"The revolution is not an apple that falls when it is ripe. You have to make it fall."

- Che Guevara 

Dr. Verghese Kurien did not need to do that. He just made the villagers of Anand in Gujarat realise that the milk their cattle produced could reach all of India if they got together. It came to called the White Revolution in the mid-70s. The brand Amul is now part of every household in some form.

I once saw him at Mumbai airport. Bureaucratic safari suit. Eyelids with many folds. The face of a philosopher. To my surprise, many people recognised him - those one might consider to be more likely fans of film stars or cricketers were either staring at him or wanting to talk with him. It was the sheer power of what he had created. How else could one explain this at a time in the mid-90s when there was no exposure via social media or quick snapshopts on TV? At a time when I recommended to a friend visiting from overseas the film Manthan (produced by the milk cooperative) that I had watched thrice and his response after the first few scenes was, "Did not know you were such a dehati (villager)?

I can recall so many scenes and that simmering one where Smita Patil is washing her legs and her eyes meet those of Girish Karnad, loosely based on Dr. Kurien, and the rustic Naseeruddin Shah who keeps spitting out "Aa sisotee" (this society, for the cooperative).

The song from the film continues to be used in ads. This is what revolutions are - when people are not encouraged to protest but create. And the milk and movement continue to flow...


  1. This gives a wonderful remembrance Farzana.I visited 'Anand' multiple times as it is my wife's native. I have seen 'Manthan' for three times and still its charm is imprinted on my mind, just like yesterday. I wounder how a person can achieve such a big success with very down to earth simple idea.Thanks for the sharing.

  2. India is indebted to Dr Kurien, but the tragedy is we in India, have the worlds largest number of cattle incl cows, water buffaloes etc yet we have don't get good quality milk, yogurt. we can't even export milk which can meet international standards. I hope we will be able to do one day- sooner the better!

  3. Jitu:

    Indeed. It is such 'small' dreams that matter, never mind that the TV channels were too busy with other 'news'.


    Agree, this is untapped resource. However, the market is getting better - we have different varieties of milk, and dairy products. Quality is pretty good. And although international brands are easily available, I find some regular cheeses stand up quite well in comparison.

  4. yes it is getting better (indian diary products) from worse to very bad - a milkman can never provide pure milk ( it is their raj dharam to add water,chemical, hormones, toilet paper, talcum powder) ask anyone and they would agree - it is even sad when huge number of people revere cow and desecrates cow (milk) products- my comment was more towards moral standing of the milkman rather milk- No wonder why Laloo prasad yadav have his own cows and buffaloes :) you should see this milkman uses various devises to cheat their customer - oh baba I rather not - plain horror!


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