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Posted on Sep 09, 10:22PM | IANS
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Vice-president Hamid Ansari, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and BJP leader L.K. Advani Sunday joined others in paying tributes to Verghese Kurien, the force behind the white revolution in India.
Kurien, 91, died Sunday at a hospital in Nadiad city in Gujarat following prolonged illness.
Manmohan Singh said in a condolence message that Kurien was an outstanding and innovative manager and an exceptional human being.
"His contribution to the welfare of the farmer and agricultural production and development of the country is immeasurable," he said.
"In his long and illustrious career, Dr. Kurien set up the Anand model of cooperative dairy development, engineered the White Revolution, and made India the largest milk producer in the world," said the prime minister.
"Dr. Kurien was an icon of India's cooperative movement and the dairy industry," said the prime minister in a condolence message sent to his widow Molly Kurien.
"His greatest contribution was to give a position of pre-eminence to the farmer and his or her interests rather than those of middlemen," he said.
Gandhi said Kurien was a man of extraordinary vision, whose achievements in the dairy industry empowered hundreds of thousands of farmers, created a model for milk cooperatives that has inspired millions of others.
"Operation Flood that he launched remains a proud landmark in the history of modern India and is admired and emulated the world over," said the Congress chief.
"We will always honour his memory and draw inspiration from his life," Gandhi said.
Ansari said Kurien was credited with being the architect of the largest dairy development programme in the world.
"He engineered the white revolution in India and made India the largest milk producer of the world. He is recognised as the man behind the success of the Amul brand," Ansari said.
Advani said: "It was due to the efforts of Mr. Kurien that our country was able to become one of the major milk producing nations in the world. In addition, his exceptional contribution to agriculture and rural development were nothing short of extraordinary."
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Advani said the void left by Kurien's demise would be very difficult to fill.
BJP president Nitin Gadkari and party leader Rajnath Singh also paid tributes to Kurien.
Born Nov 26, 1921 in Kozhikode, Kerala, Kurien graduated from Loyola College in 1940 and later completed his engineering from Guindy College of Engineering, Chennai. It was after a brief stint at TISCO that he obtained a government of India scholarship to study dairy engineering.
Kurien served as head of the National Dairy Development Board and the Gujarat Co-Operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd for many decades and his work touched millions of lives everyday in remote areas.
In his illustrious career, Kurien won several awards including the second highest civilian award in India - Padma Vibhushan, the World Food Prize, Magsaysay Award, Carnegie-Wateler World Peace Prize and International Person of Year from the US.