By Radha Mohan Singh, Union Agriculture Minister , GoI
Cooperatives are business enterprises owned and controlled by the members that they serve, decisions made in cooperatives are balanced by the pursuit of profit and the needs and aspirations of members and their communities. Cooperatives take many forms and operate in all sectors of society. India has an unwritten history of cooperatives since the beginning of human settlement in the form of villages as village life was based on a cooperative model where everyone cooperated with everyone else in their day to day life following the principles of self-help and collective action. However, in a more formal sense, the early cooperatives were born out of economic hardship in the UK and Germany, and were centered on the retail and financial sectors. In modern times, cooperatives have established themselves in almost all economic sectors and have a global presence ranging from the small, village-based self-help cooperatives to large-scale producers and service providers.
“Cooperatives are a reminder to the international community that it is possible to pursue both economic viability and social responsibility” as declared by United Nations in its General Assembly during the celebration of the International Year of Cooperatives in 2012. The UN declaration highlighted the contribution of cooperatives to socio-economic development, in particular recognizing their impact on poverty reduction, employment generation and social integration. The faith of UN is “Cooperative enterprises build a better world.”
In India, the first Cooperative Societies Act, 1904 was enacted to facilitate formulation of primary credit cooperative societies. Subsequently, visualizing the need for the formation of other type of societies including federal societies, the Cooperative Societies Act, 1912 was enacted. The Government of India through the Cooperative Societies Act, 1919 transferred the subject of “Cooperative Societies” to the then provincial governments and subsequently the provincial governments enacted their own Cooperative Societies Acts to promote growth of the cooperatives. The status of “Cooperative Societies” as a provincial subject was maintained in the Cooperative Societies Act, 1935.
To facilitate the organization and functioning of the cooperative societies having jurisdiction in more than one province, the Government of India enacted Multi-Unit Cooperative Societies Act, 1942. The Act of 1942 was repealed by the enactment of Multi-State Cooperative Societies Act, 1984 which has since been replaced by the Multi State Cooperative Societies Act, 2002.
In the pre-independence era, the policy of the Government by and large was of laissez faire towards the cooperatives and the Government did not encourage an active role for their promotion and development. After independence in the year 1947, the advent of planned economic development ushered in a new era for the cooperatives.
The cooperative movement in our country has witnessed substantial growth in many diverse areas of the economy. With a network of about 6.10 lakh cooperative societies and a membership of about 249.20 million, the cooperative movement in India has emerged as one of the largest in the world. The agricultural credit advanced through cooperatives recorded a sizeable increase from a meagre Rs. 214.35 crore in 1960-61 to Rs. 86185 crore in 2011-12 with about 17% share in total institutional agricultural credit. The share of cooperatives in fertilizer distribution is 36% and in sugar production nearly 39.7%. The cooperatives also make procurement of wheat at 24.8%. The handlooms contribute 54% and 20.3% of the retail fair price shops are in the cooperative sector. The cooperative sector provides direct and self-employment to about 17.80 million people in the country and playing a significant role in improving the socio-economic conditions of the weaker sections of society through cooperatives in fisheries, labour, handloom sectors and women cooperatives. Dairy cooperatives through ‘White Revolution’ have enabled the country to achieve self-sufficiency in milk production. Housing cooperatives are contributing to the construction of housing units for economically weaker sections and low income groups at affordable rates. Through fair price shops, cooperatives are supplying essential commodities to the weaker sections of society at concessional rates. Thus the cooperatives are contributing substantially in our efforts for achieving inclusive development.
It has however been experienced that in spite of considerable numerical expansion of cooperatives in different sectors of the economy in the country, their performance in qualitative terms has not been up to the desired level. Therefore, the Government of India has taken various measures for promoting and developing the Cooperative sector in the country. These include, inter-alia, framing of the National Policy on Cooperatives, enactment of a progressive legislation of the Multi-State Cooperative Societies (MSCS) Act, 2002, assistance to cooperative education and training, assistance through National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC) for development of cooperatives, implementation of recommendations of the Prof. Vaidyanathan Committee to strengthen rural cooperative credit structure and recent enactment of the Constitution (97th Amendment) Act, 2011 for development of Cooperative sector in the country.
I am very happy to know that Amaragol Primary Agriculture Credit Cooperative Society, Amaragol, Karnataka was registered on 27th April, 1915 and has completed hundred years in serving their members for their economic upliftment and also celebrating the centenary celebrations. I am also very happy to participate and inaugurate the Sahakari Agricultural Mela.
As you may aware that our BJP government under the able leadership of Shri Narendra Modi, Hon’ble Prime Minister has taken many initiatives for the development of the country such as providing of toilets in all schools, implemented the Jan Dhan scheme and opened more than 14 crore bank accounts for financial inclusion, to ensure that LPG subsidy reaches the targeted person directly, launched MUDRA Bank for financing 6 crore small vendors and businesses on which 61% are SCs, STs, OBCs and Minorities, launched the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana which the Congress did not think of in the last sixty years, to see that by 2022, no family remains without a roof over its head, launching of the Soil Health Card scheme to enhance farm productivity, providing a comprehensive social security scheme for the poor and marginalised, old and those with low-income levels, Swachh Bharat Mission to see that health and hygiene issues of the poor, to develop the services provided by the Indian Railways, set up the Skill Development Ministry to enhance employability of the youth to whom we are committed to provide jobs through initiatives like ‘Make in India’, reservation for women in the police forces of Union Territories, generation of more than Rs 3 lakh crore by coal auction etc. As the above initiatives taken by the Hon’ble Prime Minister, I believe that cooperatives will also develop to provide better services to their members.
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