“Operation FLOOD” – WHITE Revolution (1970)


Operation Flood is the program that lead to the ‘White Revolution’

V. Kurien with PM Lal Bahadur Shastri


Operation Flood , launched on 13 January,1970 was started by National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), world’s largest dairy development program. The objective of this programme was to create a nationwide milk grid. The result was that India became the largest producer of Milk and Milk Products. Operation Flood was a rural development programme started by India’s National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in 1970. One of the largest of its kind, the programme objective was to create a nationwide milk grid.
It resulted in making India one of the largest producers of milk and milk products, and hence is also called the White Revolution of India. It also helped reduce malpractices by milk traders and merchants.

2.Father of White Revolution-

Varghese Kurien (chairman of NDDB at that time), gave the professional management skills and necessary uplift to the cooperative, and is considered the “Architect of India’s White Revolution (Operation Flood)”- The White Revolution. The main architect of this successful project was Dr. Verghese Kurien, also called the father of White Revolution. In 1949 Mr. Kurien joined Kaira District Co-operative Milk Producers’ Union (KDCMPUL), now famous as Amul voluntarily leaving a government job of dairy engineer. V. Kurien is known as Father of White Revolution for introducing ‘billion-litre’ idea that is Operation Flood.

During the 1964-65, Intensive Cattle Development Programme (ICDP) was introduced in the country in which a package of improved animal husbandry was given to cattle owners for promoting the white revolution in the country. Later on to increase the speed of the white revolution, a new programme named “operation flood” was introduced in the country by the National Dairy Development Board.

It transformed India from a milk-deficient nation into the world’s largest milk producer, surpassing the United States of America in 1998 Revolution with about 17 percent of global output in 2010–11. Within 30 years, it doubled the milk available per person in India and made dairy farming India’s largest self-sustainable rural employment generator. It was launched to help farmers direct their own development and giving them control of the resources they create. All this was achieved not merely by mass production, but by production by the masses; the process has since been termed as the White Revolution.


• Increase milk production (“a flood of milk”)
• Augment rural incomes and reasonable prices for consumers.

4.How Operation Flood created the ‘flood’ of milk?

Operation Flood worked in three phases which ensured the following:
• It created a national milk grid linking producers. throughout India with consumers in over 700 towns and cities.
• It reduced the seasonal and regional price variations.
• It ensured that the producer gets a major share of the price consumers pay, by cutting out middlemen.
• The bedrock of the program was village milk producers’ co-operatives, which procure milk and provide inputs and services.

Programme implementation-

Operation Flood was implemented in three phases.

Phase I – Phase I (1970-1980) was financed by the sale of skimmed milk powder and butter oil gifted by the European Union then EEC through the World Food Programme. NDDB planned the programme and negotiated the details of EEC assistance. During its first phase, Operation Flood linked 18 of India’s premier milk-sheds with consumers in India’s four major metropolitan cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

Phase II – Operation Flood’s Phase II (1981-85) increased the milk-sheds from 18 to 136; 290 urban markets expanded the outlets for milk. By the end of 1985, a self-sustaining system of 43,000 village cooperatives covering 4.25 million milk producers had become a reality. Domestic milk powder production increased from 22,000 tons in the pre-project year to 140,000 tons by 1989, all of the increase coming from dairies set up under Operation Flood. In this way EEC gifts and World Bank loan helped to promote self-reliance. Direct marketing of milk by producers’ cooperatives increased by several million litres a day.

Phase III- Phase III (1985-1996) enabled dairy cooperatives to expand and strengthen the infrastructure required to procure and market increasing volumes of milk. Veterinary first-aid health care services, feed and artificial insemination services for cooperative members were extended, along with intensified member education. Operation Flood’s Phase III consolidated India’s dairy cooperative movement, adding 30,000 new dairy cooperatives to the 42,000 existing societies organized during Phase II. Milk-sheds peaked to 173 in 1988-89 with the numbers of women members and Women’s Dairy Cooperative Societies increasing significantly. Phase III gave increased emphasis to research and development in animal health and animal nutrition. Innovations like vaccine for Theileriosis , bypass protein feed and urea-molasses mineral blocks, all contributed to the enhanced productivity of milch animals. From the outset, Operation Flood was conceived and implemented as much more than a dairy programme. Rather, dairying was seen as an instrument of development, generating employment and regular incomes for millions of rural people. “Operation Flood can be viewed as a twenty year experiment confirming the Rural Development Vision” ( World Bank Report 1997c.)


However, As the program came into force, India escalated from 50th position to the peak in terms of milk production in just a couple of decades.
Operation Flood has made the country self sufficient in milk and milk products through modernization of our dairy industry. More important, being a small-producer oriented programme, it has impacted positively on income, employment and nutrition status of milk producing households. The rural families targeted under this programme were ones with small resource base – both animal and land holdings. Over 70 per cent of the families possessed only two milch animals or less; 21 per cent families were landless and 66 percent were small and marginal farmers owning less than four ha of land. Operation flood came out be boon for India.