Dr. Verghese Kurien was born on November 26, 1921 to an affluent Syrian Christian family in Calicut (now Kozhikode), Kerala. His father Puthenparakkal Kurien was a civil surgeon in British Cochin and his mother was a highly educated woman as well an exceptional piano player. He was named after his uncle Rao Sahib P.K Verghese. Dr Kurien joined Loyola College in Madras and attained his degree in B.Sc in Physics. He was also very active in sports and represented the college in cricket, badminton, boxing and tennis. He went to the United States of America on government scholarship where he pursued his degree in Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (Distinction). He returned to India after completion of his studies and on May 13, 1949 he headed for Anand, a place in Kaira district of Gujarat where he was supposed to spend five years as an officer of the Dairy division in return for the scholarship paid by the government. On arriving at Anand, he found that the farmers were being exploited by the distributors of milk and the entire region was controlled by a shrewd but clever businessman called as “Pestonjee Edulji” who marketed Polson butter.
Looking at the struggle of these people to survive and mesmerized by the personality of their leader Tribhuvandas Patel who was trying to unite the farmers and form a cooperative movement against the exploitation, Dr. Kurien left his government job and joined forces with Tribhuvandas Patel and the farmers to start the Milk Cooperative movement in the region registered under the name of Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd (KDCMPUL), which was later renamed to now popular “Amul”. He worked towards bringing a White Revolution in India and executed the much needed programme of “Operation Flood”. Dr. Verghese Kurien married Susan Molly Peter on June 15, 1953 and they had one daughter Nirmala Kurien and a grandson, Siddharth. Dr. Kurein was the man responsible for turning India from a milk deficient country to the largest producer of milk in the world today. Under his inspiring leadership many important institutions were established namely the GCMMF (Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd) and NDDB (National Dairy Development board which played a significant role in shaping the Dairy Cooperative movement across the country and led the replication of Anand model of cooperative dairy practiced all over the country.
Dr. Kurien always regarded himself as an employee of the farmers who would do anything to bring prosperity in their favor.In his service of over fifty years he attained 15 honorary degrees from different institutions of the world as he believed that learning should never stop. His enduring personality, spirit, undying charisma and conviction of turning the impossible into possible won him many accolades such as the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Community Leadership (1963), Padma Shri (1965), Padma Bhushan (1966), Krishi Ratna Award (1986), World Food prize (1989), Padma Vibhushan (1999), Economic Times award for Corporate Excellence (2001) and several other awards, but the best award that the people of the country gave him was the title “Milkman of India”. After a lifetime of struggle and conviction towards serving the nation Dr. Verghese Kurien breathe his last on 9 September 2012 due to brief illness at Anand. Dr. Verghese Kurien will always be remembered as the person who redefined the meaning of milk as a powerful tool for economic development.