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  • Published on: 14th September 2019
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possible only if the farmers at the grass roots were entrusted with the responsibility of organising democratic enterprises. Growing up as the son of a civil surgeon, young Verghese had no interest whatsoever in dairy production. In fact he was not even fond of milk or milk products! How he ultimately became the Father of White Revolution was nothing but a quirk of fate which steered him towards what would become his life's calling.


The Caren Siehl's model fits the most appropriately for Dr. Verghese Kurien

1. Define the vision

A rare visionary who always translated his vision on mission mode.

He believed that the rural development process required professional transformation. Clarity of vision. Ability to drive, inspire and embrace change and continuous improvement. It was his vision to take India from Dairy insufficiency to Dairy. He took up the challenge of the dairy industry when there was lack of dairy products and India was importing it, to fulfil the demands.

2. Communicate the vision

He had the ability to share his vision in clarity with others. Real passion and pride in what he believed and the way he communicated it. Ability to inspire and motivate others. Willingness to take calculated risks for the benefit of the farmers and country at large. Committed to make a significant difference. He convinced the Government to keep them out of regulations for running the cooperative society efficiently.

3. Equip the team

Organized farmers rather than trying to employ them. He brought in the best machinery and technology to increase its efficiency and speed. He brought special transportation to transport milk without any spillage. He hired people with dedication and special thinking over professionals. Innovation cannot be mandated or forced on people, “It is everywhere, a function of the quality of the people and the environment. We need to have enough skilled people working in a self-actuating environment to produce innovation”. As said by Dr. Kurien.

4. Get Feedback

He attempted to replicate the Anand Model nationally through the launching Operation Flood Programme (OFP). Fought against bureaucrats, ministers, est. firms for farmer's benefit. Farmer is god, stood by them in thick & thin. He Stepped down from Amul in 2006 due to difference in opinion. He took feedbacks from the farmers and tried to solve their problems as much as possible. He was always took feedbacks as a way to learn new things and correct the mistakes made by him.


Verghese Kurien who is popularly known as father of the white revolution and the man who painted country white. Dr. Kurien was a social entrepreneur and worked for the benefits of farmers. He also was the man who did not focus on caste conflicts and worked singularly on belief that economic interest of all sections will help increase the country's economic growth. He also introduced production of milk based powders from buffalo milk which was said impossible by dairy experts from the world.

In 1949 Kurien was sent by Government of India to its experimental creamery in Anand. On weekends Dr. Kurien used to help Tribhuvandas Patel to process milk of farmers. Meanwhile Kurien decided to quit Government job and leave Anand. But as Kurien used to give ideas to Mr. Patel and advised him, Mr. Patel told him to quit Government job and help him in his work as he recognized the potential of Dr. Kurien. The day he left the job Tribhuvandas asked him to help him in setting new dairy in village. Dr. Kurien worked for the farmers in creating better life for them by taking the cooperative movement ahead. Along with Tribhuvandas and farmers Dr. Kurien started working day and night in the dairy. By Dr. Kurien's advice Tribhuvandas left the old machinery and collected money from the cooperative to purchase new machinery. Due to the procurement of the new machinery capacity of the cooperative rose from 200L of milk in1948 to 20,000L in 1952.

Dr. Kurien became successful in making powder from buffalo milk and planned to build a plant where they could manufacture powder. In 1954 president Dr. Rajendra Prasad laid foundation of this plant. Dr. Kurien was confident regarding their future success.

With the increasing production capacity of the plant and the progressive nature of the cooperative it was time to take competition under consideration and there was a need to understand finer points for marketing Kaira cooperative products. After complete brain storming the cooperative was renamed as Amul. Amul name was registered in the year 1957 and till today this name is leading in everyone's mind.

In 1962 in the war against China Dr. Kurien helped the Government army by providing them the Amul milk powder, the requirement was 2750 tons within 6 months. Though it was out of reach Dr. Kurien joined hands with Rajkot dairy and fulfilled demand of government. And when prime minister asked what they want in return they said “nothing”. This shows Dr. Kuriens cooperate responsibility.

In 1968 as there was surplus production of milk in European countries Dr. Kurien presented their proposal in World Food Program and grabbed the opportunity. Dr. Kurien visited Rome in 1968 to present NDDB's project proposal to 24 nations. B.R. Patel agricultural secretary introduced Dr. Kurien to WFP to present India's point of view. In his speech he started elaborating importance of milk in India. He also explained how he intended to use the donated milk to sell at a nominal price in India. In order to capture the markets of Delhi, Bangalore and other metros and then generate money out of it to fund operation fund program. Where his major goal was to make India self- sufficient in milk products. He also told people can expect 10% return on investment hence considering donations infects of investments. The cooperative won the major battle here which kick started operation flood.

Due to Dr. Kurien 70 to 80% of price paid by consumers went as cash to farmers because he eliminated middle man and other contractors ensuring regular and steady income to farmers and better-quality products at reasonable price.

Dr. Kurien with the help of G.H. Winster led to cheese production from buffalo milk at Amul. To cut cost Dr. Kurien got a captive packaging tin unit attached to dairy in collaboration. So Amul took competitive advantage over Aarey dairy and Polson dairy. Amul cooperative dairy venture succeded.

PM Narsimha Rao took his help for dairy cooperation of neighboring country Srilanka.

In 1990s Dr. Kurien fought hard to keep MNCs from entering dairy business.


Many people claim their success to a passion and a commitment that was deep within them from childhood but there are a very few who accept that their success story is accidental and Dr. Kurien belongs to the latter.

Dr. Kurien is a prime example of a right person being at right place but just “By chance”.


a. Dr. Kurien was sent on a scholarship and returned in1948 with his knowledge and joined the “Diary Department of the Government of India”.

b. He was posted as diary engineer to the „Government Research Creamery‟.

c. He never used his skills for his personal profit.

d. It was one of the first social entrepreneur, India was to ever see.


a. His passion towards work and making the farmers financially independent made him very passionate about milk revolution.

b. Mr. Tribhuvandas, Mr. Dalaya and many more along with Dr. Kurien worked in the scarcity of economical, logistics and technical support, from scratch, to boost milk production at Kaira and set up the milk cooperatives.


Dr. Kurien who revolutionized white, the noble milkman, from milk to management.


It is because of Dr. Kurien that today India contribution about 17% of the total milk production in the world. AMUL, with a turnover of 13000 crores.


a. A great believer in innovation, he developed automatic milk bulk vending system to compete with milk dwellers of urban areas.

b. Dr. Kurien had inception of a nationwide cooperative sector, he  also invented the process of making skim milk powder and condensed milk.

c. AMUL GIRL WAS CREATED BY HIM-Dr Kurian suggested a mischievous little girl as a mascot with two basic characteristics,

d. Easy to draw attention

e. Memorable

f. He also invented a range of milk products


a. The need to attract, train and motivate India's youth to work for the nation's farmers, Dr. Kurien established the Institute of Rural Management (IRMA) at Anand in 1979.

b. IRMA was initially set up to provide management training and research support to the cooperatives being established all over the country.

c. Over the years, this has been expanded to cover more sectors like oilseeds, fruit, vegetables, forestry, etc.

d. To provide quality school education to the children of employees working in the different institutions in Anand in the same year he also established the Anandalaya Education Society. Today, it is one of the best schools in the country.

e. Believed in preventing MNCs eating into Indian companies.


a. Dr. Kurien was clear on his motives and he never compromised with them, no matter how tough a stand he had to take.

b. His retorts to politicians, bureaucrats and representatives of MNCs and other nations clearly show how confident he was about what he was doing.

c. His attitude of not giving up and convincing people on his terms showed his motivation and his will of doing the right things always.

d. His determination to make milk powder from buffalo milk showed his perseverance to capture the market and he didn't leave any stones unturned to make that successful.


a. Another example of his brilliance is the idea given by him to get free milk from Europe and sell that in metropolitan cities on farmers' price which led to two-fold profits.

b. First, by not giving free milk to the people, they were able to save farmers in cooperative societies.

Secondly, they were able to generate money by selling that milk, which helped in implementing the Operation Flood.


a. In 1962, the clouds of war against China darkened the nation. The Prime Minister's office called the Amul cooperative to help the government as the army needed milk powder during the war; the requirement was 2750 tons within six months.

b. Although that was outside the reach of the Amul cooperative but in collaboration with the Rajkot dairy they fulfilled the demand of the government by completely seizing the consumer market.

c. The integrity of the cooperative and its leader Dr. Kurien was such that   when asked what they want in return of this favour, they said “nothing” and proved that in real sense it is serving the nation.


He believed that the greatest assets of this country are its people, and dedicated his life to the task of harnessing the power of the people in a manner which promoted their larger interests.


Dr. Verghese Kurien was a great leader with no doubts. He became such a success leader due to his hardship and by having a vision.

Dr. Kurien was a mixture of two of the leadership styles by Daniels Goleman.

a. He became the pacesetter1 by challenging the whole nation to produce milk and butter within the nation and stop the import for the same.

b. He was also taken as visionary2 as he wanted to see India become self-sufficient.

c. Under his stewardship India became the largest producer of milk in the world.

It all started when he realised the farmers were struggling to get a fair price for their milk against the middlemen working for the Polson Dairy and had started a small co-operative, he took charge of it and bought a pasteurising machine and the milk could now reach Mumbai without spoiling and the co-op idea grew apace. Farmers from other districts came to admire, and set up their own. Many of these were landless labourers, whose only asset was their cow or buffalo; some were women, who thereby gained a little independence.

In the above-mentioned example, we can see how helping a few farmers got the other districts to follow. He created a standard platform where all the farmers wanted to reach and this shows that he was a pacesetter.

1 Pacesetter leadership style: Building challenging and exciting goals for people.

2 Visionary leadership style: Mobilizes people towards a mission.


Dr. Kurien was a remarkable man. Affectionately remembered as the father of White Revolution, Kurien brought strong changes in India in the early 1950's. Right from the pre-independence era Dr. Kurien had dreams to build his own dairy. His “billion litre idea”, operation flood is one of the great examples of his success stories. He faced tough competition and had obstacles in his way to success but his vision and extra ordinary intelligence built India's largest dairy “Amul”. He was a true leader who worked for others and the glory of his nation. His strategic plans of Operation Flood took India from a milk deficient nation to world's largest milk producer, surpassing the USA, 1998. He also established India's first ever milk powder plant, producing milk powder from buffalo's milk. Kurien was a rare visionary who always translated his vision on mission mode. He drew his inspiration largely from Tribhuvandas Patel, who was trying his best to unite the farmers in order to form a cooperative movement and fight against the exploitation of British. Under his leadership many important institutions were established namely GCMMF (Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd) and NDDB (National Dairy Development Board) which played a significant role in shaping the dairy cooperative movement. Dr. Kurien always regarded himself as an employee of the farmers who would do anything to bring prosperity in their favor. Few of his quotes are:

a. I am like a cat, throw me wherever you want to, I will land on my feet.

b. My philosophy in life is to do as much good as I can to those who are less fortunate, but I would like to live my life as a common man.

c. Eight hours for dairy, eight hours for your family and eight hours for sleep.

These quotes clearly show that Dr. Kurien was truly altruistic and determined to work for others. He led a very systematic life and had a clear vision.  One of his very famous quotes is “If the situation demanded autocracy, I gave it autocracy”. He was a situational leader who was open to adopt new techniques and technology. He would talk to farmers regularly and know their problems and give them proper guidance and coaching.  He learned leadership from his mentors and by networking in high places. Kurien's life serves as a lesson of leadership. These lessons should be customized to whatever setting we belong to and be applied.


Dr. Kurien was not a strategic person in his early days but he had a skill which is rare to find in every one that is problem solving attitude.  He faced each problem as it had come to him and never got scared of it ran away instead he stood there as a mountain and faced each problem with a smile on his face and challenged himself to learn and increase his knowledge.

There were many instances where he faced problems in his life and with those experiences he learnt the art of strategizing each and everything before starting it. With increasing greys on his head he became wiser and thus difficult to defeat as well.

After working in Anand he realized that he had not learned much about dairy farming from U.S. for which he had been sent there so he took the opportunity from the government to again  go for further studies in dairy farming to new Zealand and learnt skills which were required to grow the farming industry.

He had set a rule at collection centers that the milk will be collected on 1st come 1st basis. This broke all the discrimination of sex, age and caste. Thus making it a collective process and showing that all are treated equally.

There was one of the incidents when the prime minister of India visited the factory and the factory was then going to be open for farmers as well to see but due to certain incidents prime minister went back and the factory was not opened for the farmers there was a big commotion and Dalaya one of the factory head had denied the farmers entry to safe the factory from damage however Mr.Kurien allowed them in and said that factory can be repaired but one cannot repair the damaged institution.

He boosted corporative farming in and every part of Gujrat in initial years. When farmers asked him that whether they will compete with them and will kill each other's market then Dr. Kurien said Amul is one piece of stick which can be easily broken but if many Amul's stand together then no one can break it. Even Mehsana was a factory where they produced milk powder and butter and they sold it in the name of Amul's using the same distribution channel and thus collaborating.

He believed that he was a servant of the farmers and had to give them back. Cooperative dairy needed professionals to handle it so he had once asked JRD TATA to provide 6 managers of his firm for 1 year to them to improvise on their management however he never got any support from them. He then understood that he needed to pick people on his own to take it another level. He said that an efficient manager is to bring in and groom right people in the team.

Marketing was essential according to Dr. Kurien. He believed that once the ad agency is chosen they should be given full power to do what they feel right. He never liked to interfere in others work. He believed in whomever he had given work to. He created the brand Amul as it is now through his marketing strategy and connected the Indians.

He believed in keeping his farmers and people content so he had service of veterinary on call for the farmers and he had also started to provide his workers with ½ litter milk every day as he once saw one of his workers stealing from the bottle.

He found that there was surplus in milk powder in Europe so he asked them to provide it to India as a gift and then he sold it in the market at nominal rates and the profit arrived from them was used to support operation flood.

There was there phase behind the operation flood strategy

1. Phase 1 - to set up dairy cooperatives right prom procurement to processing it to package it.

2. Phase 2 – to follow the Anand structure and increasing the production through various resources

3. Phase 3 – teach the rural India about breeding, how to take care of the cattle's and how to provide them with correct nourishment.

He believed cooperative strategy and used them in different sectors like for electricity, salt, oil seed, cotton, fruits and vegetables as well. His strategy did work out well in many sectors.


As an entrepreneur, he portrayed an example of all those qualities we, as the budding generation should be masters of. Dr. Kurien had been a successful leader beyond doubt. Kurien's life serves as a lesson in leadership.The lessons from his life should be customized to whatever setting we belong to and be applied.

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