HIGHLIGHTS

  • VERGHESE KURIEN developed the Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union. It was organized in 1948 by combining two village milk producers’ societies and a dairy processing 500 pounds of milk daily.
  • Generous financial assistance came from the Bombay Government and other help from UNICEF, New Zealand under the Colombo Plan and several foreign countries. The new plant was the first in India to produce milk powder, condensed milk and special powdered milk for babies.
  • The RMAF board of trustees recognizes “his creative coordination of government and private enterprise to improve the supply of an essential food and sanitation in one of Asia’s largest and most crowded urban complexes and to raise living standards among village producers.”

 CITATION

In the predominantly vegetarian diet of South India, milk provides protein and cooking fat called ghee. For centuries families kept their own milk cattle, usually buffalo. In Greater Bombay, as the population expanded beyond the island city to over three million, the cattle became a major problem. Crowded into unsanitary stables in congested residential areas, many animals died for lack of grazing or other feed. Producers began to overcharge for milk which was often contaminated and adulterated and in ever shorter supply.

D. N. KHURODY began, in the early 1940s, to evolve the scheme that today is revolutionizing the processing and marketing of milk in Bombay. Now Dairy Commissioner and Joint Secretary to Maharashtra State, he was then Milk Commissioner of Bombay City. In that capacity he argued persuasively for government support and carried to implementation in 1949 the Aarey Milk Colony. Located 20 miles north of Bombay City, this largest dairy establishment in Asia is a combination of model dairy farms and milk pasteurization plant. It distributes clean milk of controlled quality and price to about one and one-half million city dwellers and over 300 hospitals and institutions. Also purchased from Aarey by the Bombay Municipality is the milk issued free daily to some 72,000 undernourished school children.

At the Aarey Colony cattle owners pay rent for farms and the plant buys the milk. Over 20,000 cattle have been removed from Bombay city and suburbs by this means. With proper care, milk yield per animal has increased from 18 to 20 per cent and thousands of calves and buffaloes have been saved from starvation or slaughter. A second plant at nearby Worli which began operation in 1962, is designed to service similarly the other one-half of the city population.

Bombay’s growing demand for milk also has provided the basis for a new rural way of life around Anand, some 200 miles inland. Here TRIBHUVANDAS K. PATEL and VERGHESE KURIEN developed the Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union. It was organized in 1948 by combining two village milk producers’ societies and a dairy processing 500 pounds of milk daily. Now President of the Union, Mr. PATEL was the organizing genius in building this cooperative effort. As Manager, Mr. KURIEN provided the necessary administrative and scientific direction to a hardworking staff of specialists, laborers and villager-aides. Rapid expansion, by 1962, had brought into the Milk Producers’ Union 219 farmer societies with 46,400 members. Milk processed in that year grossed over US$6 million.

The Kaira Union was encouraged by the then Bombay State Government, which contracted for its entire supply of pasteurized milk at stable, premium prices. Veterinary and technical aid was extended to villagers and the Public Works Department built new roads to facilitate collection of milk from outlying villages. Providing repasteurizing and distribution facilities for the milk from Anand was the Aarey Milk Colony near Bombay.

A substantial increase in dry season milk production at Anand was stimulated by year-round requirements of the Aarey Colony. To absorb the surplus thus created during the more productive winter months the Kaira Union ventured into milk processing. Generous financial assistance came from the Bombay Government and other help from UNICEF, New Zealand under the Colombo Plan and several foreign countries. The new plant was the first in India to produce milk powder, condensed milk and special powdered milk for babies. It is the first in the world to convert buffalo milk into powdered milk. Now marketing these products under the trade name of AMUL through their own all-India sales organization, the Union’s concern is further expansion to meet mounting orders.

These advances have raised the quality of the dairy industry in Anand as farmer-owners under tutelage of their Union leaders gradually accept new ideas of feeding and caring for cattle and handling milk.

As evidence of their pioneering leadership, DARA N. KHURODY, TRIBHUVANDAS K. PATEL and VERGHESE KURIEN today are asked to help initiate similar agencies elsewhere in India. Their efforts have become a model of accomplishment by patient but determined joining of government concern with the capabilities and aspirations of ordinary farmers.

In electing these three men to receive the 1963 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership, the Board of Trustees recognizes their creative coordination of government and private enterprise to improve the supply of an essential food and sanitation in one of Asia’s largest and most crowded urban complexes and to raise living standards among village producers.

 RESPONSE

I am happy and proud to receive the Ramon Magsaysay Award on this birth anniversary of a great national hero and a respected leader of Asia, the late President Magsaysay: happy because the prize links me, however, remotely, with the name of a man known throughout the world for his greatness of spirit, integrity and devotion to liberty; and proud because the Award has brought honor not only to me but also to my countrymen.

This is the fifth such prize to be awarded to my fellow nationals in these six years of the Award; and that, if I may say so with some justifiable pride, is an indication of how much we in India cherish the ideals for which President Magsaysay stood all his life. When my fellow laureate Mr. Tribhuvandas Patel and I chose the cooperative field of activity several years ago, of organizing people of like views into a cohesive unit in the rural sector?an economically viable organization of farmers who would launch into productive enterprise through joint endeavor?we hardly thought that some day our work would bring us international recognition. Although Asian leaders throughout the ages have taught us the meaning and content of unity in action, and the power and strength of concerted effort, we were not entirely prepared for the amazing results that became evident among ourselves in a few years, or for the heartwarming response to this experiment in community life from organizations national and international. Many and eager were the helping hands extended in our direction from all quarters; they gave us material aid, they gave us moral courage, they sustained and nourished our faith in the fullest use of the cooperative system.

Our aim has always been clear: the service of the common man through the common man. And that, I am proud to recall today, was also one of the noble aims that inspired President Magsaysay. Throughout his brilliant life and career, he was committed to the little man, or, as you say here, to the common tao. He rose to the highest position in your country, and to an enviable place among world statesmen, on the stirring pledge of service?a fair deal for the poor, the sustenance of high moral values and justice for all; he was indeed a giant among men. He taught all of us in Asia how to use our newly gained freedom to develop our personalities and enrich our lives to the fullest extent within the framework of a free and democratic way of life. President Magsaysay was a great democrat and a great Asian. Nine years ago he foresaw that the kind of resurgent nationalism which was sweeping the continent of Asia was an excellent rallying point for all free nations. It is this Asian sentiment, this unity and identity of aspirations and ideals, that lends an extraordinary significance to the Award named after him.

May I express my gratitude once again for the honor done to me personally, and to our work in western India and to my country itself.

 BIOGRAPHY

VERGHESE KURIEN was born on November 26, 1921 in Calicut, a seaport now known as Kozhikode, in the State of Kerala in southwestern India. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in 1941 and his Bachelor of Engineering (Mechanical) with honors in 1944 from Madras University. He completed special studies in engineering at the Tata Iron and Steel Company Institute at Jamshedpur, Bihar, in February 1946. Nine months of specialized training in dairy engineering followed at the National Dairy Research Institute of Bangalore, Mysore. Further study in dairy engineering was undertaken in the U.S. at Michigan State University where he was awarded a degree of Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering with distinction in 1948.

Joining the Dairy Department of the Government of India, he was posted in May 1949 as Dairy Engineer at the Government Research Creamery, a small milk-powder factory, in Anand. Seven months later he resigned to become manager of the Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union in the same town. The Anand area, then in Bombay State and now in Gujarat, was being developed as the major outside source of milk for the Bombay Milk Scheme and the Kaira Union was the principal instrument through which the necessary increase of milk production was being achieved.

Bringing technical and administrative competence to the enterprise, KURIEN’s abilities have been complementary to the organizing talents of Tribhuvandas K. Patel, founder and now president of the Union. Christian and Hindu, respectively, they have set an example of fruitful partnership that supersedes barriers of religion and cultural background.

(For the complete biography, please email biographies@rmaf.org.ph)