Spotlight on community development history – Verghese Kurien

As we celebrate our 65th anniversary year, we are going to put the spotlight on some of the key players who shaped our profession in those early days.

Verghese Kurien  known as the Father of the White Revolution in India. Kurien was a social entrepreneur and is regarded as one of the greatest proponents of the community and workers’ cooperative movement. His Operation Flood was the world’s largest agricultural dairy development programme, and made dairy farming India’s largest self-sustaining industry and the largest rural employment provider, being a third of all rural income, with benefits of – raising incomes & credit, riddance of debt dependence, nutrition, education, health, gender parity & empowerment, breakdown of caste barriers and grassroots democracy. 

He pioneered the Anand pattern of dairy cooperatives to replicate it nationwide, based on Amul, his standalone cooperative then, and today India’s largest food brand, where 70-80% of the price paid by consumers went as cash to local dairy farmers who controlled the marketing, the procurement and the processing of milk and milk products as the cooperative’s owners, while hiring professionals for their skills and inducting technology, in managing it. Rather than focusing directly on removing caste and class conflicts which get entrenched as vested interests, instead, he worked singularly on the belief that economic self-interest of all sections of the village-society would make them align together to grow their cooperative. He  got dairy farmers organised in the villages and linked them directly to consumers in the market by eliminating middlemen, ensuring them, a steady and a regular income even during the lean season, and a better quality produce at a competitive price, to the consumer in the large market of the reachable Bombay city, on a steady supply over well-paved village “milk roads” and a ‘cold-chain’. He surmounted scepticism and adversity with his indefatigable fighting spirit and outmaneuvering skills.


We are keen to hear from members about people who were influential in your countries in helping to shape the community development profession.