The New Ministry of Co-operation
Recently, a separate ‘Ministry of Co-operation’ has been created by the Central Government for realizing the vision of ‘Sahkar se Samriddhi’ (Prosperity through Cooperation) and to give a new push to 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.
Significance of Ministry of Co-operation:
- It will provide a separate administrative, legal and policy framework for strengthening the cooperative movement in the country.
- It will help deepen Co-operatives as a true people based movement reaching up to the grassroots.
- It will work to streamline processes for ‘Ease of doing business” ’for co-operatives and enable development of Multi-State Co-operatives (MSCS).
- According to the International Labor Organization (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.
- There are of cooperatives such as Consumer Cooperative Society, Producer Cooperative Society, Credit Cooperative Society, Housing Cooperative Society and Marketing Cooperative Society.
- The United Nations General Assembly had declared the year 2012 as the International Year of Cooperatives.
- India is an agricultural country and laid the foundation of World’s biggest cooperative movement in the world.
- In India, a Co-operative based economic development model is very relevant where each member works with a spirit of responsibility.
Constitutional Provisions Related to Cooperatives:
- The Constitution (97th Amendment) Act, 2011 added a new Part IXB right after Part IXA (Municipals) regarding the cooperatives working in India.
- 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 DPSP (Part IV) regarding the “promotion of cooperative societies”.
Importance of Cooperatives:
- It provides agricultural credits and funds where state and private sectors have not been able to do very much.
- It provides strategic inputs for the agricultural-sector; consumer societies meet their consumption requirements at concessional rates.
- It is an organization for the poor who wish to solve their problems collectively.
- It softens the class conflicts and reduces the social cleavages.
- It reduces the bureaucratic evils and follies of political factions;
- It overcomes the constraints of agricultural development;
- It creates a conducive environment for small and cottage industries.
- Mismanagement and Manipulation:
- A hugely large membership turns out to be mismanaged unless some secure methods are employed to manage such co-operatives.
- 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 organization for their benefits.
- Lack of Awareness:
- People are not well informed about the objectives of the Movement, rules and regulations of co-operative institutions.
- Restricted Coverage:
- Most of these societies are confined to a few members and their operations extended to only one or two villages.
- Functional Weakness:
- The Co-operative Movement has suffered from inadequacy of trained personnel.
- New areas are emerging with the advancement of technology and cooperative societies can play a huge role in making people familiar with those areas and technologies.
- Principle of the cooperative movement is to unite everyone, even while remaining anonymous. The cooperative movement has the capacity to solve people’s problems.
- However, there are irregularities in cooperatives and to check them there have to be rules and stricter implementation.
- To strengthen the cooperatives there should be market linkages for agricultural farmers as well as cooperative societies.