“Accountability, dedication, honesty, sense of sacrifice and sincerity are essential for success in public life. Those who lack any one of them, they never achieve expected success, nor they become ideal and icon for others.”-Tribhuvandas Kishibhai Patel
Born on October 22, 1903, in a Patidar Patel family of Anand town in Gujarat, TribhuvandasKishibhai Patel was one of the closest associates of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and a follower of Mahatma Gandhi. He came in contact with Vallabhbhai in 1920 at the age of just 17 during the course of Non-Cooperation and Swadeshi Movement. But soon due to his sincerity, honesty, hardworking temperament, a sense of discipline and interest in constructive works particularly among the rural masses he impressed Vallabhbhai and the Mahatma both. Further for his organizational ability he was selected as one of the conductors for the historical farmers’ agitation in Bardoli in 1928 by Vallabhbhai Patel himself. Thereafter he jumped with zest in the national liberation movement under the leadership of Gandhiji and staying in the forefront participated in the Civil Disobedience Movement (1930), the Individual Satyagraha (1940) and the Quit India Movement (1942) in particular, and was each time imprisoned for long time.
Tribhuvandasbhai started his work with the Kisans of the district of Kheda by the end of forties of the Twentieth Century with the sole purpose of making them self-reliant and prosperous as they were exploited for years by indigenous and overseas merchants, both. They used to purchase milk and its products from peasants on very low or nominal prices. With the inspiration and guidance of Sardar Patel himself he could successfully bring the farmers of the district within the fold of the Kheda District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union, established in 1946. Further, with Verghese Kurien, as its manger, he himself being its chairman started working in such a planned way that the world famous Amul Dairy Project came into being, which ultimately paved the way to the White Revolution in India.The achievement of this could be well perceived from the current real pool consist of 2.8 million milk producers as its members with milk collection of 9.10 million litres perday and total revenue equal to 2.15 billion US $ in the year 2010-11.
Tribhuvandasbhai was a visionary and a man with extraordinary mind. He had once said to the author of this piece in Ahmedabad, “Country and society cannot be strengthened by small mind even with a great man. It can only be strengthened by great mind even with a small man.”
His incomparable work of the Amul in Anand itself proves the above fact. For this, he was, and is, rightly recognized as the father of the cooperative movement as well as the ‘Operation Flood’in India. In fact Amul, for its unprecedented achievements became an appropriate model for rural development in India and many other nations of the world. Amul, spurring the White Revolution in India, made the nation largest producer of milk and products related to it in the whole world.
Besides this, Tribhuvandas Patel took initiatives to launch several programmes through NGOs for women and child health, i. e., maternal and infant carein Kheda district, upliftment through cooperatives in approximately six hundred villages of Gujarat, and village health in the state of Gujarat.
For his exemplary work and great contribution for the rural masses, Tribhuvandas Patel was conferred the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award in 1963 under the category of Community Leadership and the Padma Bhushan by Dr. S. Radhakrishnan, the President of the Republic of India in 1964. Besides, he was twice elected to Rajya Sabha, the Upper House of Parliament, between 1967 and 1974 as a candidate of the Indian National Congress.