A bow to Dr Kurien

Updated: Mar 22 2006, 05:30am hrs
It is sad to see a titan fall. More, when hes pushed out by his own creations. It is not necessary to agree with Dr Verghese Kuriens recent views or actions to salute him. Observers have, for decades, struggled for superlatives to describe what hes done for Indias dairy cooperatives, for farmers and for us citizens. Recall that his monumental achievements of the past four decades actually came after hed already got the Padma Shri, Padma Bhushan and Ramon Magsaysay awards. Hes been a continuous creator of reality, on a scale which few can even contemplate, whose spinoffs changed this nation in fundamentally better ways.

If this sounds like a roll call for quasi-divinity, it was never so. Dr Kurien has been dogged by genuine sceptics for as long as hes been adulated: it is difficult to recall now that in the early 1980s Indira Gandhi was forced by such questioning into a formal probe on whether Kuriens Operation Flood didnt have more hype than substance. (The probe, by the respected late LK Jha, mixed its praise with some criticism, too). What is undeniable is that Amuls success could not be replicated elsewhere in the country or even in any other sector. In oilseeds, where Dr Kurien did try, his experiment was not a success and he had to retreat after many charges were levelled against the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB).

His extraordinary exchange of anathemas with Amrita Patel and other once-proteges at the NDDB over the past four-odd years shows that even his disciples and fellow believers disagreed with his assessments and policies in basic ways. He has labelled them ingrates and traitors: they say hes unable to see his limitations. If theres one lesson in the please-leave-now signal he got from the GCMMF, the Amul cooperative, his own baby for decades, it is that even men of statureor, perhaps, especially men of statureshould be mindful of not overstaying their welcome. Once youve put a system in place, quit and move on, dignity intact. No one can be glad at the manner of Dr Kuriens exit; it is little balm to note that his huge achievements will endure.