Rekindling fond memories of Varghese ‘Amul’ Kurien
“I hail from your Governor’s home state.”
“From which part of Kerala?”
“That’s where I was born!”
Dr. Varghese ‘Amul’ Kurien’s acolyte Abdul Azeez P K thus wistfully reminisces on his first encounter in 1962 with the legendary ‘Milkman of India.’ The latter was an engineering student in the Dairy Science College, Punjab, some fifty five summers ago.
The visionary progenitor of ‘Operation Flood,’ then a guest faculty in the college, warmed to the fellow Koyikkodan, for Dr. Kurien was born in a house close to the 4th railway gate. Abdul Azeez was one among his twelve students.
This acquaintance later blossomed into a cherished relationship. Dr. Kurien who had returned to his native shores on completion of an UNICEF scholarship in America had taken to the dairy sector inspired by Tribhuvandas Patel, a giant of the Indian co-operative movement. Though destined for greatness through the brand ‘Amul’ that he would assiduously build, Dr. Kurien retained the virtue of humility throughout his life.
A strict person, the father of the ‘White Revolution was also brutally frank in his dealings. Abdul Azeez feels that it is because of these stellar qualities that Dr. Kurien could not helm a university for long. The other elements that were mixed in him were honesty, truthfulness and diligence. “These qualities too are what made me what I am,” says the disciple, who also believes that Dr. Kurien also showed the world how a lone individual can unleash seismic change.
“Even as he scaled the pinnacle of success with Amul, I became the first Regional Director of Milma. It was after exit from office that our relationship further bloomed,” recounts the Executive Director of Peekay Steels. It prospered through letters and telephone calls.
Dr. Kurien whose moorings with his birth place were sundered depended on his pupil to locate his childhood house and re-visit it. The feast he lavished on his friend, philosopher and guide is still pristine in the disciple’s memory. It was then that the good doctor revealed to his host’s persistent query the reason why in the beginning of his tenure in Anand he was banished to the car-shed from the common living quarter: “I was a bachelor, a meat-eater and a Christian.”
Abdul Azeez divulges that Dr. Kurien’s late wife Molly was hurt that though the then CM of Gujarat was within 15 kms of their home on the day of her husband’s death, the person didn’t pay his respects. He concludes that ‘Amul’ Kurien’s uncompromising stance that he would call on persons in power only if needed could not have endeared him to those in authority, accustomed to a system of subservience.