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"Kurien was an example of professionalism, integrity and excellence"

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It was more than sixty years ago that Dr Verghese Kurien came to Anand, after completing a graduate programme in the United States, intending only to seen leave its dust and heat behind. But drawn by the power of an idea - milk producers cooperating to build a better life, he stayed. Today, after a lifetime of service that touched tens of millions of lives, Dr Kurien breathed his last in the small town he never left.

When Dr Kurien arrived in Anand, there was a fledgling dairy cooperative that had been born of the Independence movement. The chairman of that cooperative, Mr Tribhovandas Patel, was a man of extraordinary wisdom, ability and integrity. He drew the young Verghese Kurien into his vision of dairy farming transformed by cooperation, by people pooling their resources to achieve together hat they could never accomplish alone. He quickly saw in the young man talent, intelligence and energy and together, they were a team that over time transformed millions of lives.
 
Tribhovandasbhai's extraordinary skill in motivating people and raising resources, combined with Dr Kurien's entrepreneurial qualities and his drive, helped to transform the business into a model for dairying in India, a model that was soon replicated by other parts of Gujarat.
 
The success of this cooperative drew attention in an Indian dairy scenario that saw stagnating domestic production and growing imports. In 1964, Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri visited Anand to inaugurate the cooperative's cattle feed plant. He spent a night in a village and learnt the secret of Anand's success: cooperation. He created the National Dairy Development Board to replicate the spirt of Anand throughout India and asked Dr Kurien to be its first chairman. Dr Kurien accepted on the condition that the headquarters remained in Anand, cose to the cooperative, which was the model, and its members.
 
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Promoting and establishing close to 150,000 village cooperatives, with about 15 million members, and leading India to becoming the world's largest milk producer ws no mean feat. These are ever growing testimony to the dream that Dr Kurien pursued, a dream that continues today and that will live as an eloquent memorial to him for years to come.
 
It was Dr Kurien's single-minded determination against odds that would have overwhelmed a lesser mortal and the vision that he steadfastly strove to achieve that made this possible. It was the quality of leadership he provided that enabled NDDB to impact the lives of so many millions.
 
It is the good fortune of very few in this world to be associated with a leader who has a vision that becomes a reality. It is the quality of leadership that he provided which brought together a team of dedicated individuals and inspired them. His vision became theirs.
 
He strode like a Titan across the bureaucratic barriers and obstacles that, at every stage of NDDB's history, could have brought it to its knees. Undaunted, he stood staunchly against all the machinations of those who beheld his achievement with envy and were affronted by the sheer tenacity of the man. By his example, he has taught us to act with courage when faced with those who oppose the interests of our nation and its farmers. The sense of professionalism, integrity and his constant search for excellence in everything that he did, set a shining example for those who followed hm to live up to. He has taught us that, in order to succeed, our integrity must be beyond reproach, for those who oppose cannot successfully defeat an honest man.
 
He had an extraordinary ability to convert threats into opportunities - neer letting an opportunity to pass him by that could be of advantage to the organisation or those it served.
 
Today, politicisation of a number of cooperatives has resulted in their inability to evolve as professionally managed institutions truly serving their members. The ultimate tribute to Dr Kurien would be for brave young men and women to defend and protect what he stood for.
 
Amrita Patel
Amrita Patel
At a personal level, it has indeed been a great privilege, and one given to very, very few, to have worked so closely and for so many years with such a great man. Every moment of my working life with him was a learning experience. He was demanding, set very high standards, had his own unique style of training and believed that there was no better way of developing people than giving them greater and bigger responsibilities to shoulder.
 
May his vision continue to guide all those who work with and for farmers and farmer-owned institutions.
 
Dr Amrita Patel succeeded Dr Verghese Kurien as Chairman of National Dairy Development Board.
 
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