"Dr Verghese Kurien, a passionate Indian" is how everybody remembers the man. He who is synonymous with the word milk in India, who led the country to become the largest producer of milk and milk products, who formed what is one of the most popular and endearing Indian brands, Amul, succumbed to ailments due to old age in Nadiad, Gujarat on Sunday, September 9. Dr Kurien was 90.
Dr Kurien today is sorely missed by one and all. The void he leaves behind is next to impossible to fill, agree many. The much popular Amul Girl sheds a tear in remembrance, the Amul family stands united in tribute. afaqs! spoke to a few professionals in the communication and marketing spheres, who have had the opportunity to work with Dr Kurien or have followed his work closely.
"I would say Dr Kurien is the second tallest Indian after Mahatma Gandhi. That is the kind of pedestal I put him on. He was a profound and an extremely passionate Indian. He would always tell us how as Indians we are second to none. He taught us to think Indian always. He has had a profound influence on me after Dhirubhai Ambani and I consider Dr Kurien as my guru. Every meeting with him was a lesson for all of us," says Krishnamurthy.
Prathap Suthan, chief creative officer, Bang in the Middle recalls from his copywriter days at Mudra, Ahmedabad.
"There are few human beings who reach immortal status, and Dr Kurien possibly leads that very tiny band of icons. From almost single-handedly leading a milk-deficient India to making India the world's largest milk producer, Dr Kurien's role is legendary - and even that would be an understatement. Come to think of it, the spinoffs of that transition, and the impact that it has had on children, would truly be the calcium that have strengthened the bones of super power India.
"While I was far too junior in the pecking order to have had the spine to stand up and parry a point of view with Mr Amul himself, the fact that I was a Malayali sort of got me out of his wrath's way. Maybe he sensed my insignificance, and used my moorings as an excuse to make me comfortable. Across the few occasions that I have met him, he has shared interesting stories from his life and his experience, including how his briefcase was stolen twice in Belgium - when he was there to receive the Queen's Award. Of course, every meeting with him was a new lesson," Suthan says.
Prominent marketer and senior vice-president, marketing, Tata Teleservices, Abdul Khan too pays his tribute.
"There are very few people you encounter who change lives completely. Dr Kurien was one of them. His whole attitude of starting and executing the White Revolution is exemplary. Dr Kurien stood for the values he believed in. He stood for the people. The creation of the Amul brand was just a consequence. What Dr Kurien did was change lives," says Khan.
Anand Halve, co-founder, chlorophyll, puts it simply. "The father of the greatest Indian brand ever built - that is Dr Kurien," he says as he adds a little caveat - 'not counting family-named brands'.
Suthan quotes from Oliver Goldsmith's The Village Schoolmaster in tribute. "It was almost like living the last couple of lines from Goldsmith's poem," he says.
'While words of learned length and thund'ring sound
Amazed the gazing rustics rang'd around;
And still they gaz'd and still the wonder grew,
That one small head could carry all he knew.'
To pay tribute, please click here.