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2 November 2007

Amul -the taste ( & test) of India

Manthan , a movie made in the seventies with Smita Patil and Girish Karnad, was based on the fascinating story of the dairy co-operative movement in India.

Saw the movie on tv sometime growing up, and though my memories of the factual details in the movie is hazy, I remember my visit to NDDB and Anand as part of a group of students in a social work class in vivid detail.

Apart from the memories of sheer fun and enjoyment in travelling as a team via Bordi -a clean silvery beach, a bonfire, the full moon, the most delicious vegetarian food I have ever eaten in my life, packed picnic lunches for us, trips to Anutai Wagh's Balwadi project, stopover at Baroda-another lovely city- all had it's moments. Visiting Amul and seeing all the projects in and around Kheda and Vallabh Vidya Nagar was like a travel in time and space for me.

After boiling one "patili" of milk carefully at home, the sight of milk over flowing -(no comparison to a smelly Aarey factory in Mumbai); the cheese factory, the collection centers around which I saw the most well fed strays I have ever seen in my life; the factory had a family visit day- so village women with their tots and families who were visiting the plant to see the "larger picture"; the various linked health and medical and craft projects, the use of bio-gas for energy requirements, the large steel railway tankers transporting milk to Calcutta on the opposite coast of the country, IRMA lawns and institute. I could not believe my eyes it was in India. Meeting Dr. Verghese Kurien,I asked him for his autograph. He snapped at me- why do you want my autograph, I am not a film actor-Amitabh Bachhan. I had no answer and I just patiently waited, so he gave it anyway, much to the surprise of all around.

Whenever anyone who is at a loose end for ideas and asks me to suggest travel ideas, I respond-go see three projects in India- Baba Amtes Anandwan, Dr. Aroles health project in Jamkhed,Maharashtra and Kheda in Gujarat.

If it is still like anything as I remember it, then I think we should put Kheda and it's surroundings on an Incredible India tourist map.

Maybe economic liberalisation started the India shining story, but the sun definitely rose not in the east but from the West in a small village in Kheda, Gujarat.

In the story of Amul. Utterly Butterly Delicious Amul.

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