The tubby little moppet in the familiar polka-dotted dress is not just the Amul Butter mascot.
The Amul Girl, who has entered urban lore with her regular appearance on billboards accompanied by clever catchphrases that comment on contemporary events, stands for the very fight its parent was born to counter.
The cooperative movement that began Gujarat back in 1946 was a movement against the atrocities of Polson Dairy, a locally-owned dairy in Anand, Gujarat, which allegedly procured milk from farmers at very low rates to sell to the Bombay (now Mumbai) government.
Amul’s architect in almost every way was the late Dr Verghese Kurien (who, ironically, died in the 50th year of the creation of the Amul girl).
Arriving in Anand in 1949 as a government employee to manage a dairy, he went from helping farmers repair their machinery to revolutionising the Indian dairy industry by scripting Operation Flood, a cooperative movement that turned India from a net importer of milk into one of the world’s two largest producers today.
Verghese KurienNot for nothing was Verghese Kurien (left) called the Milkman of India, though his vision was a simple one of offering thousands of small dairy farmers centralised marketing and quality control facilities, the missing links in the dairy economy at the time.
Thus, in 1973 the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation was established to market milk and milk products manufactured by six district cooperative unions of Gujarat.
As R S Sodhi, GCMMF’s managing director today, says, competition in the dairy sector 40 years ago was very different.
“In the sixties and seventies, India was a milk-deficit country, not at all self-sufficient.
"Milk powder was imported. From a per capita milk consumption of less than 110 grams per person to around 300 grams per person is a long way, and largely possible due to the cooperative movement.”
But branding also played a role, cleverly designed to add a tinge of nationalism...
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