I was NDDB, State Director for Maharashtra during 2000-2003.
In the year 2002, we received a message that Dr. Kurien would visit to Pune to receive “Lokmanya TilakAward” constituted by Lokmanya Tilak Trust, at Tilak Smarak Bhavan, Pune.
The entire staff comprising ten NDDB Officers was asked to attend the ceremony.
The Tilak SmarakBhavan in Pune is famous for its cultural activities.
It is located in the middle of the Pune city near S.P. college. We had informed milk unions in Maharashtra about the award ceremony well in advance. Therefore, a huge number of farmer leaders gathered on the venue that day.
Hall was jam packed and people were standing in the corridor to have glimpse of Dr. Kurien and listen to his speech. Pune is the educational hub, not only in Maharashtra but also in western part of the country.
The people in the city who are known to speak one of the purest cultured Marathi language were about to listen to a great orator of his time who never spoke any language other than English. His command over English was supreb.
On that day, in the month of August, Dr. Kurien was at his best in his usual style.
In the beginning, he spoke about the genesis of about Amul dairy and NDDB at a small place called Anand in Gujarat.
In the audience, there were government departments’ officers who had opposed Dr. Kurien’s policy “tooth and nail”. In fact at one point of time in Pune, Dr. Kurien’s effigy was burnt by the government dairy employees protesting against implementation of Operation Flood Programme.
In the same city, where Dr. Kurien and his policies were opposed, he was being felicitated by one of the most prestigious award that too by none other than the grandson of Lokmanya Tilak.
Lokmanya Tilak was known for his outspoken and forthright nationalism.
Dr. Kurien too was known for similar qualities. Dr. Kurien was probably one of the most worthy recipients of the awardees of Lokmanya Tilak Award which was constituted by the Lokmanya Tilak Trust in 1983.
I still remember his speech and his philosophical remarks. He said, in this world, nothing is clear cut in black or white. There is always a shade of grey in between. Throughout this life, Dr. Kurien favoured doing things in White. That is why he named Operation Flood as “White Revolution”.
Despite this ‘Illustrated Weekly’ accused NDDB for white lies. He fought these black forces throughout his life and never compromised his values. His loathing for bureaucracy emanated from his experiences of dealing with the bureaucracy under different governments.
Probably that is why on that day he said nothing is either white or black in this world and there is a shade of grey in between.
What a classic remark. It was a memorable day for dairy industry in Maharashtra.