What new to be said about him?
Dr.Verghese Kurien, the public face of India’s milk revolution, is no more.
He had left his imprint on the lives and fortunes of every Indian village, every rural household in a very significant manner that Indian villages, Indian rural landscape won’t be any more poverty stricken, thanks his milk revolution, the Amul brand would continue to inspire generations of Indians to come.
As it has been pointed out by many writers, many obituary writings and even by Kurien himself on many occasions there were other kindred spirits, Tribhuvandas Patel, Dr.Balagaya, who from the very initial days of the Kheda milk co-operative dairy days, it was these three original trinity, so to say, who struggle hard to make the dairy history of India such an outstanding success story.
The time of Kurien’s passing away is also a reminder, if reminder is needed, how we, as a nation, have failed such dreamers like Kurien.
While men like Kurien fought hard against so many odds to grow the dairy co-operative such a success story, we have today leaders, so many who are really brilliant and competent and clever men and women and yet why we have made such a sorry state of affairs in India?
Why we have failed to today when our predecessors had succeeded?
Why corruption is eating our vitals?
How Kurien was able to grow a grassroots institution into such a self-sustaining, transparent success.
True to our colours, so to say, we have chosen to ignore Kurien, nay many like him, to be reocgnised by the state!
What an irony! How it speaks of our status as little men and women in big places?
Everyone had had their say. The government paid any new homage to the memory of Dr.Kurien who at the ripe age of 8o passed away quietly, almost unsung and unnoticed.
This is not to hurt anyone or sound a sore note.
The point is that Dr.Kurien was a great institution when he lived and built up what became the world’s most successful co-operative milk co-operative that goes by the famous brand of Amul.
Amul is now a byword for all that is great and best in Indian achievement in the post-Independence India.
But then what thoughts come to our minds when we read and recollect all that Dr.Kurien had done and left behind him?
It is the sheer stupidity of what we are doing now?
Are we in anyway inspired by such examples like Amul?
First, we became so ungrateful to our achievers, right?
Anyone, from the high Rashtrapathy Bhavan to other high offices down to the grass roots to recognize Kurien, to give him a Bharat Ratna or made recommendations for a Nobel Prize or any such international recognition?
On the contrary we seem to revel in scams and scandals!
In many states the Amul d model even exists. Only a few states have successful state level milk co-operative models in place.
What have we done so far?
Even the state level co-operative banks are in disarray.
The state, Maharashtra, the home of sugar-cooperatives, also the most known state level co-opeative bank are all mired in politics.
Kurien, we at the Vadamalai Media know well and know his views and his visions (he had contributed to our publications and granted interviews and we had also met him and many of his relatives are known to him) and Kurien had a bigger vision for the country.
He wanted to promote the concept of co-operation to all spheres of national life, banks and even many distribution services like electricity, tree planning and other ventures, he had also developed close interaction with other visionaries(among whom is the late redoubtable Ravi Mathai, another unsung hero).
The tragedy is that we Indians didn’t know how to recognize talents.
We are a nation nurtured by the British colonialism and one characteristics of colonialism is to instill a sense of inferiority, slavish mentality, subservience and much else.
So, we always aspired to be clerks, a nation of cringers for service under some masters, foreign or native and we see this disability still eating into our vitals as a nation, as a society and a people.
So, we never thought anyone who dared to stand up, question and fight the system can succeed.
Kurien was a born fighter, a born independent-minded and so he stood up the every bureaucracy that had held back our progress in many other fields, not to speak of the co-operative system.
Did anyone, among those who paid tributes to Kurien and wrote about him remembered the early pioneers of co-operatives? Either Indian or foreign?
It was Allan Octavian Hume, the founder or the Indian National Congress who first saw the very poverty and miseries of the Indian peasants who thought of serving Indian peasantry through his various efforts. When those efforts failed and only when he realised he must do something and that was how the Indian National Congress came about.
It was Kurien’s firm belief that the co-operative efforts can impact the perennial poverty to which the Indians were prone to.
Poverty, famine and mass deaths were the characteristic of Indian history during the British period of Indian history.
So, co-operative dairying, Kurien went ahead and proved its success made the whole world to stand up and take notice.
In Europe and USA too there are big co-operatives, especially in the milk procurement and distribution sector.
It is to Kurien’s credit he took along all the Prime Ministers along with his vision. Lal Bhadur Sastri was one such early convert to Kurien’s vision, so too Nehru and later, Indira Gandhi.
It is thousand times a pity that the late K.R.Narayanan, the then Rashtrapathy, proposed to the then Prime Minister Vajpayee to award Kurien the distinction of a Bharat Ratna. But then(may be even now) narrow considerations(BJP conferring such a distinction on a person belonging to a certain religion) led to the proposal later being “taken back” by the Rashtrapathy, as it was the protocol for such proposals.
But then what about the other Rashtrapathy’s who came after Narayanan?
It is a moot question.
Even now, it is not late to award such a distinction on Kurien posthumously.
It would be a fitting gesture.
Co-operation is a noble concept.
It is the more mighty weapon for the poor and the weak sections to organise themselves in several areas of activity.
Co-operative credit societies function many states and also apex co-operative societies at the states level.
But the proposal for a National Co-operative Union as an apex bank at the Delhi level never saw the light of the day.
Even now it is not late.
There are among us very distinguished co-operators/leaders who can be consulted and a national level committee can be set up to strengthen and take forward the co-operative concept. There are very many industrial co-operative ventures in many products and services.
There is a very ambitious, historic co-operative in such areas like textiles and weavers are very much neglected lot.
All these current issues can be tackled with wisdom and serious commitments to high principles like co-operative ventures.
Even the Nabard bank is needing some such co-operatisation.
It is time to think on such lost opportunities and also make a heroic bid to bring back high principles of equity and justice and equal opportunities in a wide variety of fields, including agriculture, distribution, the Bangalore based co-op venture of distribution of vegetables and fruits is one such venture.
There are many other such examples.
We need leaders who can dream and dream about a beautiful India.
Long live Kurien’s memory.
Image Source : businesstoday.intoday.in