Strengthening from the Grassroots – Ministry of Cooperation

A Ministry of Co-operation has been newly setup by the Central Government realizing the vision of ‘Sahkar se Samriddhi’ (Prosperity through Cooperation) and to give a new push and to strengthen the cooperative movement.

The Government has signaled its deep commitment to community based developmental partnership. It also fulfils the budget announcement made by the Finance Minister in 2021.

Ministry of Co-operation – The right step in the right time!

  • It will provide a separate administrative, legal and policy framework for strengthening the cooperative movement in the country.
  • It will work to streamline processes for ‘Ease of doing business’ for co-operatives and enable development of Multi-State Co-operatives (MSCS).
  • It will help deepen Co-operatives as a true people based movement reaching upto the grassroots.
  • Since the country is going through a deadly second wave of the pandemic, which has led to millions losing their means of food, this initiative comes as the right step to reform the co-operatives and help strengthen it from the grassroots.

What is a co-operative

  • According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.
  • The cooperative society ensures benefit for its members and serves for the wider interest of the community as well .
  • In India, a Co-operative based economic development model is very relevant where each member works with a spirit of responsibility.
  • India is an agricultural country and laid the foundation of World’s biggest cooperative movement in the world.

Cooperatives and the Indian Constitution

  • The word “cooperatives” was added after “unions and associations” in Article 19(1)(c) under Part III of the Constitution. This enables all the citizens to form cooperatives by giving it the status of fundamental right of citizens.
  • A new Article 43B was added in the Directive Principles of State Policy (Part IV) regarding the “promotion of cooperative societies”.
  • The Constitution (97th Amendment) Act, 2011 added a new Part IXB right after Part IXA (Municipals) regarding the cooperatives working in India.

Cooperatives in India

Some examples of successful cooperatives in India

  • AMUL
  • Indian Coffee House
  • Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative Limited (IFFCO)
  • Karnataka Milk Federation(KMF)
  • Kerala Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (KCMMF)
  • Pratibha Mahila Sahakari Bank
  • Orissa State Cooperative Milk Producers’ Federation
  • Anyonya Co-operative Bank Limited

Significance of Cooperatives

  • Cooperatives provides credits and funds to its members and is also able to collect investment through voluntary contribution for the development of its members and the cooperative society.
  • Cooperatives creates a conducive environment for small and cottage industries.
  • Cooperatives provides strategic inputs for the cooperative societies.
  • Cooperatives may serve as an organisation for the poor who wish to solve their problems collectively.
  • Such an organisation softens the class conflicts and reduces the social cleavages.
  • Consumer cooperatives societies meet their consumption requirements at concessional rates.

Roadblocks in the path to Cooperatives

  • Lack of Awareness – The people are not aware about the cooperative societies.
  • Management issues – Since it does not have a trained personnel it may face management issues. Also A cooperative with a large membership turns out to be mismanaged unless some secure methods are employed to manage such co-operatives.
  • Manipulation – In the elections to the governing bodies, money became such a powerful tool that the top posts of chairman and vice-chairman usually went to the richest farmers who manipulated the organisation for their benefits

Way Forward

The pandemic has caused large scale disruptions in the economy, hence the network of cooperatives developed to help revive the economy.

The cooperatives have the ability to bring people with knowledge on the same line, together to make a stronger block and its potential can be used to develop our society. The cooperative society has the power to bring the people together and solving the problems as a community. Such stable and powerful blocks can be a powerful tool to achieve great heights.

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