India celebrates National Milk Day on 26th November in memory of Dr Verghese Kurien, fondly known as the Father of White Revolution. In 2014, all the dairy majors of the country, along with the Indian Dairy Association, resolved to observe Dr Kurien’s birth anniversary on 26th November as National Milk Day.

Also known as the Milkman of India, Kurien’s ‘white revolution’ transformed the country from an importer of dairy products to the world’s largest milk producer through a system of farmer cooperatives.

History: Operation Flood and the White Revolution

In 1965, the then Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shastri asked Kurien to replicate the dairy’s Anand pattern nationwide for which, the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) was founded under Kurien on his conditions, that it be independent of governmental control and that it be set up at Anand, away from the capitals and closer to farmers.

Kurien’s ‘Anand pattern’ of dairy cooperatives was based on using a suitable ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom up’ approach. Amul, which was Kurien’s standalone cooperative then, refused no milk from a farmer. 70–80% of the price of milk paid by consumers went as cash to dairy farmers who controlled the marketing, the procurement and the processing of milk and milk products as the dairy’s owners, while hiring professionals for their skills and inducting technology, in managing it.

In the year 1970, ‘Operation Flood’ was launched as a National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) project. It transformed India from a milk-deficient nation into the world’s largest milk producer, surpassing the US in 1998, with about 17 percent of global output in 2010–11. It created a national milk grid linking producers throughout India with consumers in over 700 towns and cities, reducing seasonal and regional price variations while ensuring that the producer gets a major share of the price consumers pay, by cutting out middlemen

All this was achieved not merely by mass production, but by production by the masses; the process has been called the white revolution. This is known as his ‘billion-litre idea’.

Significance of National Milk Day in 2019:

The Union Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Minister Radha Mohan Singh announced that milk production has recorded a growth rate of 6.28% during last two years 2014-15 and 2015-16, which is much higher than the growth rate of around 4% in the previous years. He further stated that per capita availability of milk increased from 307 gram per day in 2013-14 to 340 grams per day in 2015-16, a growth of 5% which was below 3% before 2014-15.

India is world leader in milk production since last 15 years and the credit goes to small producers. The Agriculture Minister has informed that India with 190.90 million cattle (as per 19th Livestock Census 2012) has 13% of the world cattle population. Out of this, 151 million are indigenous, which is 80% of the total cattle population. India has 108.7 million buffaloes, which makes 57% of the world buffalo population. India is number one in bovine population with 18% of the world population and contributes 20% of the total milk produced in the world.

Indigenous breeds are tolerant to heat and resistant to diseases. The indigenous breeds of cows are known to produce A2 type milk which protects us from various chronic health problems such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and neurological disorders. The ministry has sanctioned an amount of Rs 2 crore each to Odisha and Karnataka for marketing of A2A2 Milk of indigenous breeds.