National Milk Day in India Date in the current year: November 26, 2024

National Milk Day in India India celebrates National Milk Day every November 26. The holiday was created in 2014 to commemorate the birthday of Verghese Kurien, an engineer and social entrepreneur referred to as the “Father of the White Revolution” because he helped to make India the largest milk producer in the world.

Verghese Kurien was born on November 26, 1921 in Kerala. After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, he applied for a government scholarship. Due to a limited number of majors available to scholarship students, Kurien had to study dairy engineering. However, he also got a chance to study metallurgy and nuclear physics as an exchange student at Michigan State University.

Upon Kurien’s return to India in 1949, the government sent him to a run-down creamery in Anand. There he met Tribhuvandas Kishibhai Patel, the founder of the Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producer’s Union. Eventually Kurien left his government job and began working with Patel, helping him develop the cooperative.

The main purpose of the dairy cooperative was to link milk producers with consumers in large urban centers thus excluding middlemen who exploited dairy farmers and hiked up milk prices. Kurien helped solve the problem of the surplus of milk during the flush season. He suggested to use the surplus milk to produce milk powder. In addition, he launched the production of condensed milk and milk powder from buffalo milk, which was more widely available in India than cow milk. To this day, most of the milk produced in India comes from buffalo.

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru backed Kurien’s endeavors by banning the import of condensed milk and reducing the import of butter. Nehru’s successor, Lal Bahadur Shastri, was so pleased with the success of the cooperative that he asked Kurien to replicate the project nationwide and made him the head of the National Dairy Development Board. This was the beginning of the famous Operation Flood and the “White Revolution”.

Launched in 1970, Operation Flood was a dairy development program that transformed India into the world’s largest milk producer. It linked rural producers throughout the country to consumers in urban centers and eliminated seasonal and regional price fluctuations. Milk prices were fair to consumers but at the same time made it possible for producers to make the profit they deserved.

Thanks to Operation Flood, India surpassed the United States as the largest milk producer in 1998. According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), India’s share in global production of milk was 21.29% (176,272 tonnes per year) in 2017. Most of the milk is consumed domestically, although India does export a small fraction of it. Dairy imports to India are also insignificant.

Verghese Kurien died on September 9, 2012. Two years later, all major dairy producers in India teamed up with the Indian Dairy Association and declared Kurien’s birthday, November 26, as National Milk Day to honor his contribution to the development of the country’s dairy industry.

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National Milk Day in India, holidays in India, Verghese Kurien, Operation Flood, Indian dairy industry