Excursions Of A Bibliophile

What are u reading these days?

I Too Had a Dream – Dr.Verghese Kurien

Posted by Vish Mangalapalli on December 30, 2011

Environment and life experiences – both engender empathy while reading which sometimes is a critical pre-condition for appreciating a book. As the third son of a talented and committed veterinarian, I could get a ring-side view of various facets of animal husbandry. It is probably because of this, that I have grown fond of the writings of James Herriot. He was unique in his ability to tellingly portray the life of a vet in the dales of Yorkshire. The medley of real life characters of farmers and their families with their lovable idiosyncrasies he so sincerely and accurately outlined have always been a pleasure to read. I am not sure if there is any other writer who wrote so generously, so eloquently and so appealingly about the subject of animal husbandry as Herriot did. His ear for Yorkshire patois was second to none and was a delight to read. Herriot’s writings, while bringing out the charms of bucolic existence, also tellingly outlined the English village society and its interaction with the fast changing world outside. But the charms he portrayed are the charms of a first world farmer. In developing and third world countries, the life of an ordinary farmer is fraught with difficulties, frustrations and hopelessness. In India, despite all the pious noises one gets to hear about the efforts to make the life of farmers better, the on the ground reality is vastly different and hard to digest. Three individuals who have tried to make a fundamental difference to the lives of Indian farmers are Dr.Norman Borlaug – Father of Green Revolution, Dr.Verghese Kurien – The Father of White Revolution and Dr.M.S.Swaminathan

The book “I Too Had a Dream” by Dr.Verghese Kurien – is a brilliant and inspiring memoir from the man who transformed milk production and milk marketing landscape of India over five decades. It is a direct, honest and thoroughly readable account. For anybody interested in understanding grass root institution building and the challenges therein this is a lucid reference. The book is also a wonderful document which covers a facet of modern India’s developmental history and movement towards self-sufficiency in some areas of its basic needs like milk and dairy produce. Men who make a difference to society at large are obsessed by a certain thought, philosophy or idea and Dr.Kurien is no exception to this. His extraordinary achievement is driven by an unflinching faith in the inherent strengths of co-operative movement, a deep belief in the sagacity of the Indian farmer. Time and time again one gets to hear this message in the book. What makes the book appealing is the candid, unsparing and directness of the narrative. In the process of telling his story, Dr.Kurien throws light on very interesting tid-bits of history especially around some of India’s well known leaders and personalities.  Some interesting citings are: Nehru’s indifference to Sardar Patel’s daughter, Lal Bahadur Shastri’s simplicity, Morarji Desai & Indira Gandhi’s unstinted support to the efforts of building India’s dairy industry, TTK and Rajeev Gandhi’s enthusiasm to make a difference, agriculture minister Rao Birender Singh’s one-sided politics.

There are areas in the book which come out as a tad self-congratulatory. In an age and time when pygmies are parading as giants, Dr.Kurien’s giantish achievements and contributions deserve to be celebrated not only as an inspiration for all future generations but also as a reminder to the fact that there have been unsung heroes who contributed to nation building without any great expectations or motives of self-promotion.

Overall, a well-structured narrative and an inspirational read

Afterthought: In the recent past there have been demands to award India’s highest civilian award “The Bharat Ratna” to people whose achievements have had no major impact on the people of India. For all those ill-informed clamourers, here is an example of a well-deserved candidate to measure against

One Response to “I Too Had a Dream – Dr.Verghese Kurien”

  1. Joseph P A said

    I fully agree with Mr Vish Mangalapalli, Dr V Kurien is a well-deserving Indian who should be conferred with ‘Bharat Ratna’.

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