Just before declaring the massive rejig of the cabinet, the Modi government had announced the creation of the ‘Ministry of Co-operation’. On Wednesday it was revealed that this Ministry will be headed by current Union Home Minister Amit Shah. Apart from creating a new Ministry, Modi 2.0 also merged several relevant ministries for achieving greater efficiency.
However, what is going to be the role of the ‘Ministry of Co-operation’ is yet to be clear. This is all we know about it till now:
As per the press release by the government, the ‘Ministry of Co-operation’ has been created for realizing the vision of ‘Sahkar se Samriddhi’ which essentially will focus on community-based developmental partnerships. The Ministry ‘will provide a separate administrative, legal and policy framework for strengthening the cooperative movement in the country’ and ‘streamline processes for ‘Ease of doing business’ for co-operatives.’
The ministry will aid in strengthening Co-operatives as a true people-based movement and ensuring that it reaches the grassroots. To put it simply, the ministry of Co-operation will work to simplify processes for the cooperatives and ensure ease of doing business for them.
By creating the new ministry, the Modi government has fulfilled a promise made in this year’s budget. “The Government is committed to the development of Multi-State Cooperatives and will provide all support to them. To further streamline the ‘Ease of Doing Business’ for Cooperatives, I propose to set up a separate Administrative Structure for them,” finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said during the budget speech this year, indicating the focus govt was putting on the sector.
The Ministry now headed by Amit Shah will also boost the development of Multi-State Cooperatives (MSCS).
What is a Co-operative Society?
Going by the legal definition, “a Cooperative Society solely based on mutual aid and self-help principles.” At least 10 adult members are needed to form a Cooperative Society who will work for a common benefit with a motive to help each other.
The cooperative sector plays a significant role in boosting the rural economy especially the agriculture market. However, the societies now also operate in the credit sector, large-scale sectors, housing, fisheries, banking, etc.
Based on democratic principles, a cooperative society invites voluntary and community participation, offers mutual benefits and strengthens a community’s financial condition, thereby, empowering them.
Attempt to replicate AMUL’s sucess story
Amul is a leading example of an Indian dairy cooperative society. It is managed by the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd and is jointly owned by around 36 million milk producers in the western state. The produce is pooled and distributed by the cooperative itself, thereby, eliminating the need for a middle-man.
Now the union government is trying to replicate the Amul model in other sectors of the economy, especially in the agriculture and livestock sector. Dairy farmers in the country have already benefitted hugely by the cooperative movement, and if the same can be replicated in the other areas, it will help in increasing the income of the farmers.
A cooperating movement along with the new farm laws will not only lead to an increase in income of farmers and productivity of land, but it will also contribute to the growth in the economy. Given that a senior minister like Amit Shah has been given the responsibility of the ministry, it makes it clear that the govt wants the cooperative sector to take off in a big way.
Jal Shakti Mission
While the Jal Shakti Mission may not necessarily fall under the co-operative society definition, however, the mission does follow similar principles. We had reported how the government under Atal Bhujal Yojna has laid emphasis on community participation for sustainable groundwater management. Under Jal Shakti Abhiyan, the government is training the community as well as working with them together towards water conservation in water-stressed areas. Men and women of the community are being trained to maintain the systems.
Hurdles faced by Co-operative Societies
The heavy influence of local politicians and poor infrastructure and organization of these co-operatives have been the major hurdle in making the community-based developmental partnerships a success.
Additionally, a lack of legal framework has resulted in frequent scams especially in the banking sector which needs to be regularized.
However, we are yet to receive clarity on how will the Ministry function and what will be its roles and responsibilities.