Dr Verghese Kurien – RIP

It was just yesterday that I had dug out my copy of the ‘I too had a Dream’ to revisit it. There were other competitors next to it like ‘Made In America’ by Sam Walton and the ‘Only the paranoid survive’ by Andy Grove. I still am at a loss of words as to why this particular book came to be picked up by me. One of the reasons I wanted to read such a book was that I wanted to read some material other than my course material from MDI. I did need a change of reading angle desperately. My natural choice should have been Sam Walton, keeping my love for Supply Chain in view and its relevance in the course I am attending. And on the other hand, our Operations Management Prof had mentioned about Andy Grove and how his great vision shaped Intel.

But somehow, my choice went to the book on how destiny shapes our very existence.

Having taken out the book and just having given a glimpse at the first chapter, I was off to drop my children to school on my way to MDI. Somehow, the conversation turned to destiny. And I embarked on a sermon about Kalpana Chawla. I was explaining to my daughter about the Haryana girl who did India proud. Even she would not have imagined herself going to space, as a small girl. All she would have done is worked hard in her current venture at hand and destiny would have taken her along. At school she would have just concentrated on studies, so that she could get into some good engineering college. Then in the Engineering College she again would have worked hard and gone to her next destination, Masters in US. There she must have been picked up by NASA, and her dreams would have started to form. Nebulous initially and then it would have gained a definite shape. And one day, she was in space. It must have been towards the later stages that she would have realized about being able to go to space. One common denominator would have been hard work. At every juncture it would have been hard work that would have borne fruits.

Then I exited the Kalpana Chawla chapter and came to Dr Verghese Kurien. I told my kids about the father of the ‘White Revolution’. I told them how Dr Kurian went to US ‘ostensibly to study dairy engineering’ having got a scholarship for the subject and actually studied metallurgy and nuclear physics. He had obtained distinction in his Masters. But on return to India had to go to ‘Anand’, a then remote desolate place, because of the mandatory clause in the scholarship. On reaching Anand he had declared that ‘I am not interested in staying here too long’. And then what happened was just the beauty of destiny. Here too, I explained to my children, just imagine how much cheated a person would feel, and the amount of effort it would have taken to come up above the prejudices and then do what he had done.

I wished I could have told them more, but we had reached their school. I dropped them and drove on. Of course I didnt think about it till the next day when I heard that the great Icon was no more. He died at the age of 91 at Nadiad, some 25 Km from Anand.

The more I think about what he had achieved, the more I am in awe. He did what politicians(Legislature) could not have done, what IAS(Executive) could not have done. I am reminded of Captain GR Gopinath’s ‘Simply Fly’ where he has mentioned the kind of efforts required to get a small clearance done for his Deccan Airlines. And here was a man who single handedly(not exactly- he had some real good friends and ally) created a revolution in the strictest sense bulldozing all the obstacles that came his way.

But what was the one single factor that would make a man do so much, put in efforts that could move mountains. It had to be something noble, it had to be something higher than self, something that could hold him there till his death.

It was his love for ‘the band of tenacious dairy farmers’ of Anand. This love would have been in spite of the imperfections of the group, of individuals. Oh! How I wish there were more men like him in India.

Dr Verghese Kurien RIP.