Lesson 54: Dr. Verghese Kurien – The Story of Amul (Level 2+)

Arriving in Anand in 1949 as a government employee to manage a dairy, Dr. Verghese Kurien went from helping farmers repair their machinery to revolutionizing the Indian dairy industry.

Operation Flood, was a cooperative movement that turned India from an importer of milk into one of the world’s two largest milk producers. Known as the ‘Milkman of India’ and the ‘Father of the White Revolution,’ Dr. Kurien’s vision was a simple one. He offered thousands of small dairy farmers centralized marketing and quality control facilities.

Besides helping farmers to be covered by fair trade practices, dairy cooperatives use the milk produced by its members’ cows to make dairy foods like cheese and yogurt. A single dairy cooperative might have hundreds of dairy farm families as members. These farms may be in the same state or in neighbouring states. The milk from each dairy farm goes to a processing plant owned by the cooperative.

In 1973 the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation was established.

When Dr.Kurien was asked to choose brand names that would sound foreign, he insisted on an Indian name. Thus, Amul (Anand Milk Union Ltd) was born and became a household name in India. The creation of the Amul brand and its famous mascot gave a rural revolution a competitive edge.

The Amul girl is a hand-drawn cartoon of a young girl wearing a polka dotted dress with blue hair in a pony tail on the top of her head. She appears on the packet of the ‘utterly butterly delicious’ Amul butter. In advertisements, she comments on social issues and current events.

Shyam Benegal’s acclaimed film Manthan (1976) was the first movie to dramatize Kurien’s milk cooperative movement. Starring Girish Karnad, Smita Patil and Naseeruddin Shah, the film was funded by over 500,000 farmers in Gujarat.

Another film based on Verghese Kurien’s Operation Flood, is being produced by Narayan Singh and Ekta Kapur. Having acquired the rights of his Autobiography I Too had a Dream, Ekta says: “The story of Dr Verghese Kurien is not only engaging but extremely inspiring. I am delighted to tell the story of a true visionary.”

Dr. Kurien won many international and domestic awards, including the Ramon Magsaysay Award, the Padma Shri in 1965, the Padma Bhushan in 1966 and the Padma Vibhushan in 1999.

Quotes from I Too had a Dream:
“A person who does not have respect for time, and does not have a sense of timing, can achieve little.”
“For those who believe, no explanation is necessary; for those who do not, no explanation is possible.”

A) Vocabulary

Revolutionize – bring about a big or important change
Dairy – milk and milk products
Cooperative- common, combined, shared
Vision- imagination, creative power
Mascot- a person, animal, or thing used as a symbol for an event or organization.
Rural-   relating to the countryside and villages
Advertisement- announcement
Acclaim- praise enthusiastically
Visionary – Far- sighted

Demonstrate the meaning of the above words by using them in your own sentences.

B) Discussion Points:

Fair trade is a simple way to make a difference to the lives of the people who grow the things we love. We do this by changing the way trade works through better prices, good working conditions, and a fair deal for farmers and workers in developing countries.

  1. What products can be fair trade?
  2. Why is it important to have fair trade?
  3. Which state of India did ‘Operation Flood’ start in?
  4. Please describe the main personality traits of Mr. Kurien.
  5. Please research and write a few lines about India’s highest awards –
    Bharat Ratna – Highest Civilian Award of India
    Padma Vibhushan – 2nd Highest Civilian Award of India
    Padma Bhushan – 3rd Highest Civilian Award of India
    Padma Shri – 4th Highest Civilian Award of India
  6. Which awards did Dr. Kurien win?
  7. Have you ever noticed the Amul mascot?
  8. What is the importance of having a mascot in advertising?
  9. Please look up the following mascots on the Internet and please describe them and tell us what product they advertise.
    a) Gattu
    b) Ronald McDonald
    c) The Parle-G girl
  10. What does Amul stand for? Why do think it is a good name for the company? Hint: What does ‘amul’ mean in Hindi?