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Where does the milk come from?


By Savitri Narayanan

“May I have some more milk?” asked Anamika as she emptied her glass and put it down on the table.

“Me too!” said little Akhil following his elder sister.

“This is unbelievable!” exclaimed Mallika as she refilled her children’s glasses, “In Dubai, if I don’t watch out, their milk remains untouched, here in Mumbai they want more!”

Not to be left behind, little Mihir said, “I want more milk too!”

“There you go!” It was Meena’s turn to be shocked! Back home in California she had to chase, often entice, the five-year old with his glass of milk!

It was breakfast time at the Dhabolkars’ home. For decades, the elderly couple were put up there, in their apartment near Dadar. That’s where Anand and Mallika did their schooling and higher education too. Anand had gone to California for higher studies, picked up a career and settled down there itself. After marriage, Mallika too had followed her husband and settled down in Dubai. As a practice, during school holidays they came down and the children loved their time with their grandparents.

“Dadaji, the milk is tastier here,” said Akhil.

“True, back home it tastes yuk!” agreed Mihir.

“Here in Indian cities, milk is special,” said Dadaji. “Do you know how much thought and planning goes into milk production? Can you imagine how many peoples’ efforts go into putting this glass of milk on the dining table?”

Anand and Mallika exchanged smiles. Having worked at a dairy farm for years, at the mention of the word, Papaji warmed up and turned eloquent!

“Not many people, Dadaji, we picked up the packet at the supermarket, last evening!”

“Back home milk comes in bottles; someone drops it at the doorstep and papa pays them monthly!”

“Very observant children,” Dadaji was delighted and continued the conversation, “Do you know where the milk comes from? How does it get into the plastic packets and bottles?”

“Never really thought of it! Must be a…”

“Once on the TV I remember seeing a programme…”

“Never mind children, you live in foreign countries where your lifestyle is different; now that you’re here, would you like to go to a dairy farm?”

“You mean milk comes from a dairy farm? What’s a dairy farm?”

“After breakfast get ready and get into the car, let’s have an outing and learn new things too!”

The children were excited as they got out of the cars at the dairy farm.

As they walked around, they noticed rows and rows of cowsheds.

“So many cows, dadaji!”

“And buffaloes too,” pointed out Dadaji. “These are the animals who give us milk.”

“You mean we drink these animals’ milk?”

“A mother’s body generates milk for the newborn,” Mallika added her bit. Fondness softened her voice as she continued. “You won’t remember, as babies you grew up on my breastmilk!”

“The cows’ and buffaloes’ milk are suitable for us humans, too,” explained Dadaji. “They produce much more milk than their calves need which is extracted, processed, packed and distributed for human consumption!”

The children were amazed to see the automatic processing where the milk stored in the tanks came out through a pipeline. At the other end, what came out were milk packets! These were loaded into trucks and dispatched to the consumers like shops, malls and supermarkets.

As they came out of the processing plant, the children turned to the guide, “Thank you Uncleji, now we know where the milk comes from and how much effort goes into our daily glass of milk!”

“The person we need to thank is the late Verghese Kurien, the brain behind the white revolution,” Dadaji turned nostalgic as he continued. “You may be too young now but once you grow up, you’ll realise the significance. This student from Kerala, who came to Michigan, USA, to do 6 months’ internship as part of a scholarship, returned to India and opened a door which led to the white revolution! In 1946, when we were still a British colony, Verghese Kurien joined some visionary leaders and freedom fighters to stand up against the British monopoly on milk processing and distribution! In Kaira district in Gujarat, they set up a dairy named Anand, the starting point of the white revolution after which all over the country, milk and milk products were available for the public!”

“And you named me Anand to put on record your pride and loyalty to the institution and to the white revolution!” Papaji roared in laughter as he opened the car door. All others looked fondly at Dadaji as they joined in the laughter too!

                 (Savitri Narayanan is a retired educationist at
present in Bangaluru. A mother and grandmother, loves readig, writing and travelling.)