The Kurien Legacy
Dr Verghese Kurien. The Milk Champion of India. Yes, I am talking about him.
The first time I heard Dr Kurien was during a welcome address to the new batch of students. I was hardly aware of him or the institute much before that. Google was around though but not omnipresent. But his baritone and the thoughtfulness behind his words were captivating enough.
He said (and I quote from memory so the message is key, not the words) – A leader is someone ‘with a good mind, a warm heart and a desire to do good to people’. ‘And we are working on creating those leaders here.’ There was some magic and seriousness in way he said these words. The words ‘inducted’ and ‘indoctrinated’ me, without a clue as to what I was signing up for and for how long.
The next two years, I walked miles and miles through the forests of Orissa, survived in the ulfa-Brahmaputra-dominated areas of Assam and tried to get a toehold into the lives of the salt farmers-weavers of Gujarat. The process created some permanent tectonic shifts in my thinking and approach to life and work. I realise this only now.
It’s been more than a decade that I left the lush green lawns of the institute which my father had remarked as ‘a different world’. I have worked in myriad projects since then. Worked my way through the known and the unknown, stood my ground against popular flows and still completed what I had set out to do without losing focus. But at every turn of work life, I have looked for meaning in how I have created an ‘impact’. Overtime, the ‘measure’ of meaning itself has boiled down to the social positives that I generated through work. A project/product without these ‘feelers’ loses my interest sooner or later. You realise what you become, only after you have walked some distance, much later than when you took the first step.
I am at a turn again. Let’s see where I head and how I land.