Home Agenda An agenda for the Ministry of Cooperation

An agenda for the Ministry of Cooperation

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Co-operatives – as an organic idea and an organizational platform – are relevant, if they are reimagined and skillfully implemented. The creation of a Ministry of Cooperation must be understood in the context of the immense transformative power of the sector which has been unevenly achieved so far.

The aim of the new ministry is to strive to create a “legal, administrative and political framework”, facilitating the “ease of doing business” for cooperatives and helping the emergence of “multi-state cooperative societies”. Emphasis is placed on transforming cooperatives from small entities into large enterprises, facilitated and supported by enabling enterprises to solve the problem of barriers to entry and growth.

At the local level, cooperative societies should continue to meet the needs of their members in all segments of the primary sector. At the national level, they must emerge as organizations capable of competing with the behemoths of the private sector.

Successful business models exist in at least two sectors: dairy products and fertilizers. Organic leadership, member involvement, techno-managerial efficiency, economies of scale, product diversification, culture of innovation, commitment to customers and sustained brand promotion are factors that explain their success. These practices can also be replicated in other sectors.

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Segments of the primary sector can be successfully expanded and transformed into cooperatives, followed by segments of the secondary and tertiary sectors. It will also be necessary to promote the brand of cooperatives by improving and adding value to the quality of the products and services they provide. This will lead to an expansion of production, exploitation, distribution and the scale of the economy.

When scaling up, the organizational matrix of cooperatives will need to be redefined. The Act, rules and regulations will be needed to provide the flexibility to keep abreast of the business environment. In addition, the management of multi-state cooperative societies should be entrusted to market-oriented managers capable of ensuring efficiency. The board of directors of multi-state cooperative societies will be responsible for overseeing business decisions to ensure that they do not lose sight of ethics and social responsibility.

Cooperation is essential because the market cannot meet the needs of vulnerable people. Wherever cooperatives have been successful, they have addressed the issue of market distortions. They have also compressed the supply chain by cutting out middlemen, ensuring better prices for producers and competitive prices for consumers. Cooperative societies, endowed with basic infrastructure and financial resources, prevent distress sales and ensure bargaining power. They have the potential to realize the decentralized development paradigm. Just as panchayati raj institutions advance decentralized rural development, cooperative societies can become the means to meet the needs of enterprises.

The equation between government and cooperatives, between control and autonomy, is fraught with dilemmas. With excessive regulation, cooperatives will eventually lose their autonomous character. With the government leaving the cooperative societies to fend for themselves, these societies can flounder. It is difficult but desirable that this dichotomy be resolved.

The government will have to ensure that the processes are transparent. The integrity of the management committees and their operating autonomy is necessary. Cooperative departments will need to assess the training needs of cooperatives, as well as design and deliver training interventions to ensure they match the current business environment.

On the back of professional management, cooperative institutions can be enlarged. All stakeholders including government, cooperative development institutions and the entire cooperative movement will need to work together to achieve the goal of community and people-centered development involving modern business practices at local and national levels. . It is hoped that the new ministry will create the necessary synergy in the system and act as a force multiplier.

Bandana Preyashi, an IAS officer, is secretary, department of cooperatives, government of Bihar

Opinions expressed are personal

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