An Insight into the White Revolution of India

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white revolution in India

To deal with the stagnancy in Milk Production in our country in the 1950’s and 1960’s, an innovative development programme was launched by the Government of India. The initiative was popularly known as ‘Operation Flood’ or ‘The White Revolution’ in India. The distinctive approach of this massive dairy development program, not only made India self-sufficient in Milk Production but earned our country the title of, World’s No.1 Milk Producing Nation. According to the Economic Times, the Milk Production in India has shown an increase, being 55.6 million tonnes in 1991-92 to 186 million tonnes in 2018, accounting for 22% of the World’s Milk Production.

The article will deal with the following points:

  • Key Points about The White Revolution
  • Details of the White Revolution
  • Constraints of the White Revolution
  • Why there is a need of a ‘New White Revolution’?

As per the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), India has 40 indigenous cattle breeds like Sahiwal, Red Sindhi and Gir. The 2019 National Livestock Census shows the cattle and buffalo population, to be 300 million.  With the aim of increasing milk production, the Government and the farmers are adopting several measures. There has been an increase in the population of cross bred mulch animals and surprisingly, a decline in male population of the mulch animals.

Key points to remember about ‘The White Revolution’

  • ‘Operation Flood’ was launched by the Government of India in 1970 under The National Dairy Development Board (NDDB). The idea was called a ‘billion litre idea’.
  • Dr. Verghese Kurien (the then Chairman of NDDB) is the Father and architect of the White Revolution.
  • The revolution proved to be a success because of Anand Milk Union Limited better known as Amul.
  • Objective: To create a ‘National Milk Grid’, thereby reducing seasonal and regional price variations, benefiting both the consumers and milk producers. 
  • 26 November is celebrated as National Milk Day to honour Dr. Verghese Kurien. We celebrated 98th birth anniversary of Dr. Kurien this year.

Let’s dive into some details

  • Launched in 1970, the ‘Operation Flood’ was aided initially by the World Food Program (WFP), and later continued seeking assistance from the European Commodity Community (EEC) and the World Bank for Soft loan/credit.
  • The whole experiment became successful because of The Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers Union Ltd. led by Tribhuvandas Patel, which became the parent company to AMUL (Anand Milk Union Ltd). [Page 2, The White Revolution in India, by Bruce A. Scholton]
  • The Operation Flood was executed in three phases [ page 19 of White Revolution of India by Bruce A. Scholton]:

OF1 (1970-1981)

Phase I aimed at linking the best milk sheds which were initially 18 with metropolitan Bombay, Delhi, Kolkata and Madras. As per NDDB documents about 1.5 million farm families took part in the first phase and the per day milk production rose from 0.46 million litres to 2.2 million litres.

OF2 (1981-1985)

As per records, 136 milk sheds were connected to 290 urban dairy markets. With the help of the credit/loan available from the World Bank and the seed capital raised through WFP/EEC gifts, ‘A self-sustaining system of 43000 village cooperatives covering 4.25 million milk producers.

OF3 (1987-1996)

The profits made in OF II were consolidated in the third phase. OF III was able to assure income to about 10 million farm families.

  • The Operation also helped India to open up its dairy market to the World, after it signed the Uruguay Round of Agreement on Agriculture (URAA) in 1994 and became a member of the World Trade Organization. This led to trade liberalization, thereby reducing import tariffs on dairy products.

Benefits of the ‘White Revolution

Besides making India the leading Milk Producer in the world, the revolution served the following benefits:

  • Provided employment to several small, marginal farmers and landless labourers. Today about 80 million rural households are engaged in the occupation of dairy production.
  • With the participation of women in the White Revolution the Milk Production peaked in 1988-89, thereby increasing women co-operative societies.
  • ‘The National Grid’ achieved by the operation flood linked more than 700 towns and cities, creating a dairy market for consumers and producers. The producers usually the farmers were benefited as they obtained the maximum share of the profit.
  • With the modernization of the dairy market and genetic improvement of the mulch animals, production of milk increased manifolds.

Constraints of the White Revolution

  • With the success of ‘Operation Flood’, the milk production has outstripped population growth, which means that the production is surplus. Means have to be identified so that there is proper demand management and the interests of the consumers and producers are protected.
  • Adulteration of milk with detergent, starch and paints to increase the quantity of milk has been feared by the consumers, but as per the survey conducted by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in 2018, 93% of the milk samples tested, were free of adulterants and were safe for consumption.
  • The dairy sector is amidst concerns due to climate concerns and fodder availability. A report by the Niti Aayog says, “The overall productivity of the Dairy sector is low because of inadequate nutrition from green fodder, along with dry residue and protein concentrate.”

Why is there a need for a ‘New White Revolution’?

[Opinion based by Mihir Kumar Singh, Joint Secretary, Cattle and Dairy Development, Government of India]

To eliminate the constraints of the ‘The White Revolution’, most importantly to achieve efficient ‘demand management’, there is a need to revise and review the entire operation. ‘A New White Revolution’ is required to utilize the true potential of the dairy industry. These are some ways adopted by the Government to achieve the above mentioned goal.

  • Use of Artificial Intelligence: The trackers fitted in collars, sit around the neck of the cow. The real time collected data provide crucial information about the cattle like its health, feeding, efficiency, heat stress and sexual receptivity. This way the well-being of the mulch animals is ensured. Early detection of health related issues in animals can help the farmers on the economic point of view.
  • With increased awareness among the consumers, the dairy industry now focuses on the production of organic dairy products. The farmers ensure that organic pasture is fed to the cattle and the use of synthetic hormones in the cattle is avoided.
  • Though the consumption of milk has increased but the distribution is not homogeneous. The poor do not have proper access to milk and milk products as compared to the middle class and the rich. The Government is trying to resolve this problem by implementing schemes like Midday meals or Anganwadi more efficiently, making milk a mandatory part of the diet.
  • Strengthening of the dairy market in deficient areas of the country is required so that the goal of demand management is met.
  • To overcome the challenge of less productivity in Indian Breed Bovines, through genomic breeding interventions is targeted by the Dairy Sector. This would increase the average productivity of Indian Cattle per year (1719 kg) which is currently low as compared to countries like USA (10360 kg) and Israel (13000 kg).
  • Development of recognised Indian breeds like Gir, Red Sindhi, by introducing Rashtriya Gokul Mission which aims at the development and conservation of the Indian breeds.
  • To manage and use the cow dung more efficiently for the production of biogas and bio cng the Government started an initiative known as GOBAR-DHAN (Galvanizing Organic Bio-Agro Resources Dhan)

Briefing Up

The White Revolution launched in the 1970 had attained its objective of making India self-sufficient in terms of Milk Production, so will the New White Revolution in the coming years.

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