Book Review: “I Too Had A Dream” by Verghese Kurien as told to Gouri Salvi

Rating: 4.5*/5

Verghese Kurien, the force behind Operation Flood writes his autobiography cum memoirs in a very matter of fact style. No whitewashing, no euphemisms and no softening the blow anywhere. He minces no words. Although his praise for Congress leaders seems to be unbiased, one wonders if they were all so in the white? But maybe they did have a soft spot for Operation Flood. And bureaucracy, oh boy, bears the brunt of his wrath. He even goes on to say that as much as 85% of our bureacracy is redundant. Maybe that’s why  the word bureaucracy has become a metaphor for anything mammoth, circuitous and redundant.

Main points covered in this book

  • His drive and quest for excellence
  • His straightforward approach
  • His “accidental” association with the Kaira Cooperative at Anand
  • Personal life compromises – Money, Living in a small place, Time.
  • People closely associated in his life – Most importantly, Tribhuvan Das Patel
  • His experiences with Bureaucracy
  • People who helped him along the way
  • His experiences with various Prime Ministers from Nehru to Vajpayee
  • The cooperative philosophy of Kaira Cooperative – Empowering farmers
  • Journey from Kaira to AMUL
  • Innovations like Milk powder from Buffalo Milk, funding sources for Operation Flood and Milk Vending machines
  • Social Ramifications of cooperatives – empowering women, improved healthcare
  • Competition from Multinationals, esp. Nestle
  • Importance of growing the domestic market as a way for economic development
  • NDDB Experiences and Operation Flood
  • From self sufficiency in milk to Vegetable Oil
  • Importance of Professional Managers – Setting up IRMA at Ahmedabad
  • Importance of retaining Marketing with the Cooperative entity and expanding distribution reach
  • Importance of making people part of the development process to ensure it’s a sustainable process
  • Grooming managers to become successors – Qualities of Leadership and Innovation
  • Values of integrity, honesty, perseverance and conviction to do the right thing.
  • Finding opportunities out of challenges!
  • Awards and Recognition including Magasaysay and Padma Vibhushan

*I took away the 0.5 rating from the overall, because in the last chapter Dr Kurien talks about the current situation at NDDB. Though he indirectly points at some people and brushes off responsibility and affiliation from what has been happening now, it was a departure from his usual style of being direct. Instead, it only looked like he wanted to distance himself from the criticism for current policies. Would have appreciated some fact based description and names as in other parts of the book. I assume there is no legal angle to his not taking names or talking about the stuff he alludes to. If there is, then he is excused and the book is 5/5.

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: “I Too Had A Dream” by Verghese Kurien as told to Gouri Salvi

  1. You have made a good contribution towards spreading awareness about this great personality. Unfortunately very less literature is available on Internet about Dr. Verghese Kurien.
    Thank You for such a nice review and for including link to my review of “I Too Had a Dream. ” in your blog.

  2. Dear Amol,

    Thanks for your kind words. Your book review was really good and quite comprehensive and I felt best to include it. I also intend to put your blog in my link list as I find it to be quite good. Hope you update it more frequently.


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