White Revolution in India

What is White Revolution in India?

The white revolution in India changed the way the world perceives the Indian dairy industry. It is one of the major milestones of Indian history as well as scientific advancements. The white revolution placed India on the list of top countries in milk production. Thanks to this White Revolution, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, currently, India is the top country in milk production.

What inspired White Revolution in India?

India is the first in the number of cattle, and consequently, the amount of milk it produces as a result. But that was not the case during the time of independence and the separation of India-Pakistan. 

Additionally, in the late 1970s, milk production in India was filled with middlemen who laundered money and caused the nation to lose out on profits from sales.

The farmers who reared their cattle and did the hard work of getting the milk got very little money in return for their effort. 

Operation Flood’s sole goal was to remove the middlemen from the entire process so that the milk producers could directly connect with consumers and sell them milk. 

Among its many objectives, the key goals of Operation Flood include: 

  1. Increase the production of milk in India so that more people could access it than ever before.
  2. Increase rural incomes so that farmers could increase their incomes and receive the money for their hard work. 
  3. Fair, reasonable prices for consumers that did not fluctuate according to seasons and middlemen’s wishes.

How was Operation Flood implemented?

India’s National Dairy Development Board served as a key resource in the planning and implementation of the White Revolution. Operation Flood was implemented in three key phases. 

Phase 1: Selling of skimmed milk powder | 10 years

To do so, the National Dairy Development Board connected 18 main milk producers in India to cities that were metropolitan even in the 1980s: Delhi, Bombay, and Tamil Nadu. 

By doing so, the NDDB hoped to get a solid initial boost to help farmers while ensuring a steady supply and demand for fresh milk. This way, the NDDB improved the milk grid that was previously not very well connected. 

With increased connections, the demand rose as well. The new demand-led farmers to buy more cattle and breed them to meet the increasing demand from the big cities. 

On the upside, farmers were able to produce more milk than they had ever before since the city connections and access to people directly without the middlemen.

It allowed more flexibility and control in the entire process. 

Phase 2: Milk sheds more than double all around the country | 5 years

In the second phase, NDBB increased the number of milk sheds to more than 130. By the time 1985 rolled in, the number of people who produced milk significantly exceeded 4 lakh — a then-unprecedented number that increased rapidly since then, placing India in the topmost position in the countries contributing to global milk supply. In 2013, India even surpassed the United States in its milk supply. 

Phase 3: Increase the volumes of milk | 10 years

By the time Phase, two came to an end, India was well on its way into becoming a self-sustaining industry in milk production and distribution.

With the initial flow of procedures in place, Phase 3 focused on increasing that amount so that veterinary people could access fresh milk regularly. 

In the late 1980s, milk sheds began cropping up in all parts of the country — their number being the highest since then. 

Along with an increase in milk production and milk products like paneer, scientists and researchers began to take an increased interest in the process.

They increased government funding went toward assessing healthy practices for both animals and the milk they produce. 

People-focused more on nutrition science as well. Operation Flood also prompted governments to create vaccines for animals to rusticate animal parasites such as Theileriosis and others. 

Where did the White Revolution originate?

Although Operation Flood came to be known as White Revolution because of the amount of milk that India began producing.

It first originated in a small village in Gujarat in the early 1970s and has grown rapidly since then. 

In place of Mr. Kurien’s mission, he gave many farmers packages that they could use to improve animal husbandry, which on a broad scale promoted the Operation Flood movement. Mr. Kurien strongly believed that healthy cattle gave healthy milk. 

By connecting farmers directly to the consumers, Operation Food slowly began to gain momentum and garnered support from the public, farmers, and politicians. 

Who was the man behind White Revolution in India? 

Verghese Kurien was the man behind White Revolution in India. He was also the man behind the milk brand Amul that so many Indians have grown to love and respect.

Verghese Kurien, the father of the White Revolution.
Verghese Kurien, the father of the White Revolution. Source: Wiki Commons

For his brilliant planning and execution of the White Revolution in India, many people refer to him as “the father of the White Revolution.”

Under his supervision, the amount of milk produced in India increased four times its initial value before the 1970s. 

Verghese Kurien was born on November 26, 1921, in a region that now falls under Kerala today. Mr. Kurien also played an influential role in fighting against the middlemen who looted tons of money from everyday farmers and hardworking milkmen. 

At Amul, Mr. Kurien pushed for the production of milk powder from buffalo’s milk. That was in very short supply all across the country. Throughout his career, Mr. Kurien was motivated to make the lives of milkmen better and made sure he did all in his power to increase their income. 

He also identified the core problem that many farmers faced. He spotted that there were no buyers during the flush season when their cattle produced a lot of milk. In times when there was not as much milk to go by, the demand increased rapidly, leading to a lot of fluctuation in the prices. 

Mr. Kurien’s initiative for the White Revolution allowed him to place the farmer as an important player in the entire process, giving them more control and income. He received a lot of support from both farmers and politicians. 

The farmers saw an improvement in their livelihood, so they were grateful to Mr. Kurien for his help. The politicians had the required money and saw an opportunity to come at the forefront of the political race, so they were keen to contribute as well. This way, there was never a step back in the whole White Revolution because the idea itself was beautifully thought out that benefited the country on the whole.

Significance of White Revolution in India

Recent statistics suggest that India produced around 180 million metric tons in the year 2019, the highest number that the country has reached in the past decade. India also contributed to 22 percent of the world’s milk in the year 2018. 

There is a very good reason behind the high numbers. And we know that by now. A revolution that occurred in India helped it become a self-sustaining industry in milk production and distribution. The White Revolution or Operation Flood rapidly increased the amount of milk that India produces, offering jobs to farmers and giving way to healthy cattle. 

In total, the amount of milk that became available to every person in India doubled, inspiring healthier lifestyles all over the country that was previously difficult to accomplish. 

India Milk Industry after White Revolution

One of Mr. Kurien’s biggest efforts until his death in 2012 was to limit the big companies, which are often profitable, from entering the milk production process. Due to his dedication to the farmers and his goal to improve their lives as much as he could, he tried to stop the big companies from taking over the process. 

Moreover, he strongly believed that healthy cattle give the best milk, which was also one of the major reasons he fought against bigger companies, which then would employ technology-inspired artificial methods to produce greater amounts of milk in a short time. Right now, although there are bigger brands than Amul that are slightly dominating the milk production field, Mr. Kurien’s vision lives on in many ways.

Farmers are still at the forefront of the process to a large extent. Mr. Kurien achieved his goal to improve the farmer’s lives. He also accomplished the larger vision to make India a self-sustaining country to produce and distribute milk. 

This way, even though many bigger companies are still using artificial methods that harm the cattle, Operation Flood has been a great success because it reached all the goals and objectives set forth by Mr. Kurien. 

Impact of White Revolution in India

This way, Verghese Kurien established a system and milk grid that put India on the global market for milk production and distribution, so much so that it is now the world’s greatest producer of milk. Although Mr. Kurien didn’t start with this goal in mind, his innovative idea to help farmers and give them more control in the process helped the nation to a very large extent. 

Mr. Kurien was very much dedicated to improving the farmer’s lives, which is why he established the NDDB closer to the farmers and away from any capital investors. Although he did not shy away from politicians, Mr. Kurien was very much determined that his company should be independent of any influence from the government. 

Spread across three phases for a total of 25 years, Operation Flood till today remains the biggest successful undertaking in milk production. The rest, as they say, is history.

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