The birth anniversary of Dr. Verghese Kurien, the Milkman of India, is celebrated as “National Milk Day” in order to commemorate his unparalleled contribution to make India the largest milk producing country in the world. On 26th November Amul published a full page advertisement in The Times of India, paying glowing tributes to the man who transformed the lives of lakhs of dairy farmers in India.
“Where others saw milk, one man saw a revolution. One man transformed a milk deficit country into the largest milk producer in the world. One man transformed lives of women farmers, empowering them with financial independence. One man transformed a pouch of milk into a symbol of indigenous courage and commitment”.
“On Kurien’s 97th birth anniversary 158 lakh farmers salute the vision of the man who transformed a movement into one of India’s best loved brands”.
India urgently needs visionary leaders like Dr. Verghese Kurien to find solutions to the pressing problems of the people like rising unemployment, mounting crimes against women and children, atrocities against the scheduled castes and ever-increasing divide among the followers of different faiths. After seventy years of independence India is going through a highly dangerous period. The political and religious leaders of the country are raking up the religious sentiments of the people to cover up their unfulfilled promises. Prior to the election to five state assemblies the leaders of political parties indulge in acrimonious sludge fest against each other. They have no creative solution to offer to the people.
As the BJP government failed to fulfil most of its promises, it is turning to emotive issues to hoodwink the voters, as the election to the Lok Sabha is approaching. The Sangh Parivar outfits are bringing lakhs of people to Ayodhya to put pressure on the government to pass a law that paves the way for building Ram temple in Ayodhya. The BJP government was in power under Atal Bihari Vajpayee and again it has been in power at the centre since May 2014 with absolute majority in the Lok Sabha. Why did not the Sangh Parivar outfits put pressure on the government in 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017? Why only when the elections approach do they remember Lord Ram? This is nothing but destructive and divisive politics, funnelled by hatred and revenge against the minorities. This politics of hatred is diametrically opposed to the soul of Hinduism, as described by Shashi Tharoor in his widely acclaimed book, “Why I am a Hindu”.
The negative and destructive outlook of the ruling party is evident in its policies, its approach to the issues and especially in the statements of its leaders. A statement on Dr. Verghese Kurien by Dilip Sanghani, a senior BJP leader from Gujarat and a former state agriculture minister, shows that BJP leaders can stoop low to any extent. He accused of Verghese Kurien donating Amul profits for Christian conversions. Speaking at an event to felicitate a group of bikers, who have embarked on a 3,000 km rally from various places to commemorate the 97th birth anniversary of India’s Milkman, he even went on to claim that Kurien was not the founder of Amul. “Amul was founded by Tribhuvandas Patel, but does the country know about Tribhuvandas Patel? The money that Gujarat’s farmers and cattle rearers collected through their hard work, he (Kurien) donated it for religious conversions in Dangs (South Gujarat),” he said.
Reacting to Sanghani's comment, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Limited (GCMMF) chairman Ram Singh Parmar said, "We don't want to reply to such a bogus statement." The family members of Dr. Kurien said that the statement is laughable. The BJP leader seems to have forgotten that Kurien was an atheist and when he died in 2012 at the age of 90 he was cremated at a Hindu crematorium in Anand. Even his wife, Molly Kurien, was cremated at Chandanwadi electric crematorium at Marine Lines in Mumbai, although she was Christian.
Dr. Verghese Kurien in his book, I Too Had A Dream, has written that as an adult he went to the church only once in his life and it was for his marriage. He had no time or interest in religion. His whole focus was on the wellbeing and happiness of human beings. He once said, “True development is not the development of land, or of the cows; it is the development of men and women.”
The Sangh Parivar and the BJP are trying to paint a picture that any development that has taken place in this great country is only because of the Hindus. They are determined to negate the contributions made by people belonging to other faiths or persons of no faith. The great and noble contribution of Mother Theresa to alleviate the sufferings of the poor and destitute is devalued by the Sangh Parivar outfits. Mohan Bhagwat, the Sarsangchalk of RSS, never misses an opportunity to accuse her of religious conversion. The same strategy is adopted to defame Dr. Verghese Kurien. None of the BJP leaders or none from the BJP government came forward to refute the statement of Dilip Sanghani. It shows the mindset and the strategy of the Sangh Parivar.
The unique and creative contribution of Dr. Verghese Kurien in the form of producing milk powder from buffalo milk; establishment of institutions like GCMMF (Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd), NDDB (National Dairy Development Board) and IRMA (Institute of Rural Management); motivating European countries to donate milk powder to kick-off ‘Operation Flood’ through which milk production was extended to 72,000 villages in India; and motivating lakhs of farmers to contribute Rs. 2/- each towards the financing of the movie, 'Manthan,' by Shyam Benegal have made him world renowned. He received a number of awards in recognition of his contribution to dairy development: Ramon Magsaysay Award (1964), Padma Shri (1965), Padma Bhushan (1966), World Food Prize (1989), Order of Agricultural Merit (1997) and Padma Vibhushan (1999). In recognition of his commendable work, Michigan State University awarded him with an honorary degree in 1965.
Denigrating such a great personality exhibits the meanness of the Sangh Parivar; it is the saffron way.
(Published on 03rd December 2018, Volume XXX, Issue 49)