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A cooperative society in Bareli, UP

An advertisement in ‘The Hindu’ by The Gujarat State Co-op Bank Ltd says it all subtly.

​’This Ministry will bring millions of people serving in the sectors including Banking, Farming, Fisheries, Animal Husbandry, Sugar Manufacturing and Milk Processing Units under a single platform for main streaming development and improve their quality of life.’ It also says, under India’s new-found blueprint of collective growth with inclusive approach the Co-operative Ministry will encourage sectors across Manufacturing, Service, Housing, Labour and Banking, to name a few.

​I wonder why we need so many Ministries, then? One single ministry can deal with everything and if there is any resistance, the Home Ministry can take care.  Minimum Govt – Maximum Governance.  Don’t you remember Modiji saying it? It’s widely known that only two people run the Government, now that can be made official.

​Some innocents or ignorants say that Co-operatives are a subject of the state, so they cannot be under the prerogative of the Union Government, only Multi State Co-operatives can be controlled by the Union Govt.

​Education was a state subject too. Do you remember? How long will it take to bring co-operatives under the concurrent list? Farming is under the concurrent list, but who enacted the farm laws?

​Having failed in the recent state elections, when the economy is declining continuously for 5 years, RSS, Amitbhai Shah and Shri Narendrabhai Modi have devised the new strategy before the UP elections- ​take control of the Co-operatives. 

Farmer’s agitation could not be broken so far. Now they are going to try the same through the Co-operatives, using the Carrot and Stick policy. 

​Co-operative Sector is a huge empire. Who knows it better than the former Director of Ahmedabad Co-operative Bank, which became famous during Demonetisation?

​“Co-operation is something more than a system. It is a spirit, which appeals to the heart and mind. It is a religion applied to business. It is a Gospel of Self sufficiency and service,” said legendary scholar Malcolm. M. Darling.

​India has had informal Co-operatives sice a long time. In 1904, based on the recommendation of a Madras civilian Frederick Nicholson, the Co-operative Societies Act was passed and then amended in 1912.

​Today we have 30,000 member Co-operative Societies under Indian Farmers Fertilizer Co-operative Ltd (IFFCO). National Agricultural Marketing Federation (NAFED) has 5000 marketing societies.

​As per statistical profile 2018, published by the National Co-operative Union of India, there are 8,01,915 functioning co-operatives. There are also 1,77,605 credit Co-operatives. Total membership in credit co-operatives is 206.16 million, and the membership of non-credit co-operatives is 83.92 million.

​There are 17 National Federations, 390 State Federations, 2705 District Federations, 1435 Multi State Co-operatives and 97961 Primary Agriculture Credit Societies (PACs).  PACs are there in 644458 villages in India. Their share capital is Rs.846163 million (One million is 10 lakhs). 

They have a storage capacity of 6.26 million.

​Out of 71.474 million Kisan Credit Cards, 35.883 million (say 50%) were issued by these Co-operative societies.

​Amount disbursed in 2018 by Co-operatives was Rs.1427580 million.

​Now you can imagine the game plan.

​UP alone has a huge number of cooperatives. See the list below. 

​The Panchayats at block level and District Level could be purchased easily in spite of defeat at the grass root panchayat elections. With capture of Co-operatives by RSS cadres, the control will be total. You can distribute cash during elections, capture booths and ensure victory. If a few people win from other parties, they have the expertise to purchase them without shame.

National Policy on Co-operatives 2002 says, 

E) Guiding principles

The following cooperative principles are the guidelines by which cooperatives put their values into practice. They are globally accepted and time-honoured by all cooperatives.

Voluntary and open membership

Cooperatives are voluntary organizations, open to all persons able to use their services and willing to accept the responsibilities of membership, without gender, social, racial, political or religious discrimination.

Democratic member control

Cooperatives are democratic organizations controlled by their members, who actively participate in setting policies and making decisions. Men and women serving as elected representatives are accountable to the membership. In primary cooperatives, members have equal voting rights and cooperatives at other levels are also organized in a democratic manner.

Member economic participation

Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their cooperative. At least part of that capital is usually the common property of the cooperative. Members usually receive limited compensation, if any, on capital subscribed as a condition of membership. Members allocate surpluses for any or all of the following purposes; developing their cooperative, possibly by setting up reserves, part of which at least would be indivisible; benefitting members in proportion to their transactions with the cooperative; and supporting other activities approved by the membership.

Autonomy and independence

Cooperatives are autonomous, self- help organizations controlled by their members. If they enter into agreements with other organizations, including governments, or raise capital from external sources, they do so on terms that ensure democratic control by their members and maintain their cooperative autonomy

The International Co-operative alliance has expressed global concern on the increasing government Intervention in Co-operatives. But who cares?

Is it going to be the end of the road for voluntarism and co-operation, the bed rock of democracy?

​People of the country will introspect and tell. 

Cooperatives in Uttar Pradesh

S. No. Type of cooperative Number
1 PRIMARY COOPERATIVES  
A Agriculture Credit Cooperatives(PACS)/FSS/ LAMPS) 7479
B Agriculture Non Credit Coops.(PAMS/Block Unions) 4001
C Non-Agriculture Credit Cooperatives 2873
D Non-Agriculture Non Credit Cooperatives 694
E Dairy Cooperatives 6151
F Fishery Cooperatives 1099
G Horticulture Cooperatives 913
H Sugarcane Cooperatives 169
I Primary Handloom/Industrial Cooperatives 2343
2 DISTRICT LEVEL COOPERATIVES  
A Credit Cooperatives (DCCBS) 50
B Non Credit Cooperatives (KVS) 57
C DCDF/CCCS 57
D District Cooperative Milk Union 43
E District Fishery Federation 12

APEX COOP. FEDERATIONS:-

  • Pradeshik Cooperative Federation Ltd. (PCF)
  • Pradeshik Cooperative Union Ltd. (PCU)
  • U.P. Horticulture Cooperative & Marketing Federation Ltd. (HOFED)
  • U.P. Cooperative Sericulture Federation Ltd.
  • Pradeshik Cooperative Dairy Federation Ltd.
  • U.P. Cooperative Jute & Agriculture Development Federation Ltd.
  • U.P. Cooperative Fisheries Federation Ltd.
  • U.P. Cooperative Bank Ltd.
  • U.P. State Construction and Labour Development Cooperative Federation Ltd.
  • U.P. Cooperative Potato Federation Farrukhabad
  • U.P. Land Development Bank
  • U.P. State Construction Cooperative Federation (PACFED)
  • U.P. State Consumer Cooperative Federation Ltd.,
  • U.P. Cooperative Khadi Gramudyogic Vastu Apoorti Evam Vipnan Sangh Ltd.

Thomas Franco is former General Secretary of All India Bank Officers’ Confederation.

Picture credits: Dr. U S Awasthi/Twitter   

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