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Tribhuvandas Kishibhai Patel

(1903 – 1994) – (Gujarart)

Tribhuvandas Kishibhai Patel (Aged 91) was born on October 22, 1903 in Anand, Gujarat, India to Kishibhai Patel. He was the founder of the Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union in 1946 and later, the Amul co-operative movement in Anand, Gujarat, India. Tribhuvandas Patel was a freedom fighter, a Gandhian, a fearless leader, a social worker, a tireless advocate, and a cooperative philosopher who worked selflessly for the benefit of millions of people in India. One quality that stands out about him is his utter dislike for self-promotion, a quality that many admire in the numerous institutions he built and served.

Tribhuvandas became a follower of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel during the Indian independence movement, especially the civil disobedience movements, which led to his repeated imprisonment in 1930, 1935, and 1942. He is known as the father of the cooperative movement in India. By the late 1940s, he started working with farmers in Kheda district under the guidance of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. After setting up the Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producer’s Union in 1946 under his chairmanship, he hired a young manager named Verghese Kurien in 1950 who was instrumental in developing the technical and marketing strategies of the Union. It was eventually called Amul. Verghese Kurien remained the general manager of Amul until 2005.

Under Tribhuvandas Patel’s leadership and guidance and together with Verghese Kurien, many organizations were started in Anand, including the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation, National Dairy Development Board, and Institute of Rural Management Anand. The relationship between Tribhuvandas and Kurien was one of teacher and pupil, architect and builder, and almost father and son. Kurien was very dear to Tribhuvandas. He trusted Kurien above all, and in his eyes and mind, Kurien could do no wrong. The fruits of their work are still hanging from the trees planted 75 years ago.

Tribhuvandas Patel was awarded the 1963 Ramon Magsaysay Award for ‘Community Leadership’, together with Dara Nusserwanji Khurody and Verghese Kurien, and the Padma Bhushan from the Government of India in 1964. He passed away on June 3, 1994.