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National Milk Day: Remembering the ‘Milk Man of India’ on his 100th Birthday

Dimple Gupta
Dimple Gupta
Verghese Kurien - Father of India's White Revolutiomn

Since 2014, 26th November is celebrated as the National Milk Day to commemorate the birthday of Dr. Verghese Kurien – father of India’s white revolution, also known as the ‘Milk Man of India’. 

The day was fixed by all the majors of the dairy industry like – National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), the Indian Dairy Association (IDA), along 22 state-level dairy federations. In 2014, IDA took the initiative to celebrate this day for the first time. 

The day celebrates the importance of milk in a person’s life. And also, to promote the benefits related to the milk and milk industry and to create awareness among people about the importance of milk and milk products. This year, India is celebrating the 100th birth anniversary of Dr. Kurien. 

Dr. Kurien was born on 26th November 1921, in Kozhikode (Kerala), and passed away on 9th September 2012 when he was 90 years old. He is known as the ‘Father of White Revolution in India’. A well-known Indian social entrepreneur, who is still famous for his ‘Operation Flood’, which is known as the world’s largest agricultural program. He established 30 institutions that are run by various farmers and workers. Dr. Kurien also played a key role in the establishment and success of Amul Brand. Because of his efforts only, India became the largest producer of milk in 1998, surpassing the U.S. 

He was awarded Ramon Magsaysay Award (1963), World Food Prize (1989), Padma Shri (1965), and Padma Vibhushan (1999). 

After independence, the organized milk sector flourished in the country by his efforts only.  Presently, India is the largest producer of milk in the world, as it contributes to about 22% of the total milk production of the world, with over 187.7 million tons (MT) of milk production every year. Nation’s milk output surpasses that of all European Union (EU) countries combined, which is followed by the United States, China. 

What is the White revolution/ Operation Flood?

In 1970, NDDB started a rural development program – Operation Flood. One of the largest programs, its aim was to develop a nationwide milk grid. The operation helped in reducing the malpractices by milk traders and merchants, as a result, making India one of the largest producers of milk and milk products. Therefore, is also known as the White Revolution. 

Dr. Kurien was the chairman of NDDB at that time, and gave management skills and necessary thrust to the cooperative sector, and is considered as the architect of this revolution. 

The operation has 3 objectives: 

  • To increase the milk production

  • To augment the rural income

  • Fair prices for consumers.

Three phases of the operation: 

Phase I (1970-1980): The European Union financed by gifting skimmed milk powder and butter oil through the World Food Programme. In this phase, 18 of India’s premier milk sheds were linked with consumers in major metropolitan cities namely – Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai. Also, established mother dairies in these four cities. 

Phase II (1981-1985): In this phase, milk sheds increased from 18 to 136 and 290 urban markets expanded the milk outlets. By the end of 1985, a self-sustaining system of 43,000 village cooperatives with 4.25 million milk producers became a reality. The production of domestic milk powder also increased from 22,000 tons to 140,000 tons by 1989. 

Phase III (1985-1996): This phase emphasized research and development in animal health and nutrition. Dairy cooperatives expanded and strengthened the infrastructure to increase the volumes of milk 9in the market. It consolidated India’s dairy cooperative movement as it added 30,000 new cooperatives to the existing 42,000 societies. In 1988-89, milk sheds increased to 173, and Women’s Dairy Cooperative Societies also increased significantly. To strengthen the dairy cooperative movement, the Women’s Dairy Cooperative Leadership Programme (WDCLP) was launched in 1995, by increasing the participation of women as active members and leaders in the governance of cooperative societies, unions, and federations. Due to the innovations like the vaccine of Theileriosis, the productivity of milch animals also increased, bypassing protein feed, and urea-molasses mineral blocks. 

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