Four occasions, four memories and four messages

Do not repeat this act in this campus

This happened within a week after joining IRMA. Two of us were walking down from Jagnath to IRMA. We had yet to get used to walking that much just to fetch an evening snack. Halfway through, we heard a car coming from behind. Reflex action threw the thumb in the air to seek lift. Fortunately, the car stopped immediately. We rushed to occupy our seats. Found Dr. Kurien in the car. He pulled down the glass and told us not to repeat this act in this campus ever and moved on.

Place a dynamite

Around September 1993 I was among a team of 5-6 persons, all deputed from IPCL to Ministry of Agriculture. We got a budget of Rs. 250 crores sanctioned then for promoting plastics in agriculture at national level. Post budget approval, there were plethora of unexpected barriers coming in for smooth implementation of plans drawn by us.

One of those days I sighted Dr. Kurien getting down from a car in Krishi Bhawan, Delhi. I rushed to him, told about being from IRMA and the kind of ambitious project under implementation and the difficulties being faced in implementation.

I told him that this was a golden opportunity and we seem to be heading nowhere. Also shared the insurmountable appearing problems from the senior Government officers and sought his advice.

He gave me an ear to learn where exactly we were stuck up.

His terse answer was, ‘If you really want to contribute to this nation, place a dynamite in Krishi Bhawan’.

No one is greater than the other

Around June 2012: One of the senior professors was in constant touch with Dr. Kurien. During this time I learnt from him that Dr. Kurien was not keeping well.

I told him that I have a desire to meet up with him. Professor helped me set up a meeting at Dr. Kurien’s residence at Anand.

I was happy to travel from Delhi to Anand just to get a glimpse of him. Meeting of some 15 minutes was full of surprises. Once I reached his place, I bent to touch his feet.

He went backwards and told me not to do this with anyone as no-one is greater than the other. Shortly his wife also joined. She did most of the talking as Dr. Kurien’s health was not in a great shape. The simplicity of Dr. Kurien and his wife was seen to be believed. A house with minimum and utility furniture, tea was made and served by Mrs. Kurien and they also made the efforts to know more about my work and family.

When I could not meet him

Soon after my visit to Anand, I learnt that Dr. Kurien got admitted to a hospital in Mumbai. I decided to pay a visit to hospital. Learnt from the nurse that no one was allowed to meet him.

I met the nurse attending to him. She told me that his blood group is unique, and they are not able to get it from anywhere. No wonder on the uniqueness bit. But non -availability of one unit of blood for Dr. Verghese Kurien.

I mean I felt that just shout in any village in Gujarat and hospital may find hard to accommodate donors. His daughter told me that GCMMF was providing great support and that they shall manage.

Meanwhile the nurse also shared an anecdote.

That when Dr. Kurien refused to eat or drink anything, she told him that he has forced the entire country to drink milk and that she would do the same to him. And managed to succeed.

Contributed by Ajay Gupta, PRM 6 (1985-87)