“Hearing a lot about Verghese Kurien’s accomplishment, once former Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri visited Anand in Gujarat in 1964.
“Shastri told Kurien that he wanted to spend a night with a farmer. Being a border region, security forces opposed. But Kurien was confident and arranged a stay for the Prime Minister at a farmer’s house.
“Shastri’s identity was not revealed to them. Shastri prepared chappathis for them and enquired them about the milk movement in Anand. Next day morning, the farmer was stunned to see armed forces around his home.
“Moments later, Shastri introduced himself as the Prime Minister of the nation.” The story still remains afresh in the memory of R Hali, former agriculture director of the state.
Sometime in the early 1980s, Hali was also a member of the state team along with the then Agriculture Minister A L Jacob which went to meet Verghese Kurien, the father of the White Revolution, at Anand.
“It was Kurien himself who told this story to us. Soon after returning to Delhi, Shastri ordered to take this movement to all parts of the country.
Subsequently, the project ‘Operation Flood’, aimed at a self-supportive national dairy industry, was launched,” Hali said.
According to Hali, everyone who visits Anand would have a lifelong admiration for Kurien’s astonishing achievement.
“I am a paid servant of the dairy people, the real farmer. That’s what Kurien used to say. He always maintained such love for the real producer. And he was always putting into practise everything that he preached,” he said, adding that the work of Verghese Kurien should be subjected to development research.
Hali added, “What surprised us was that the Kurien’s foresightedness in the need for value addition of milk. Even then, he had a huge research division creating value-added products from milk.
“He believed that without popularising value-added dairy products, dairy farming would hardly survive. Kurien always said that technology was not linked with university degrees and he included local men for artificial insemination instead of veterinarians.”
The former agriculture director also remembered Kurien’s contributions in the launch of MILMA in the state.