The cooperative movement in India: The strength of more than 600,000 cooperatives and 250 million members!


Every year, in keeping with its objective of propagating the spirit of cooperation, the National Cooperative Union of India (NCUI) sponsors All India Cooperative Week throughout the country from November 14 to 20. This period coincides with the birthday of the late Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, whose contribution to strengthen the cooperative movement in the country is well known. This year also marks the 60th All India Cooperative Week. 

This year’s main theme was “COOPERATIVES FOR SOCIO-ECONOMIC RESURGENCE IN CHANGING TIMES,” andeach day of the week-long celebration addressed a different subtheme:

  • Cooperative Governance, Leadership, and Reforms
  • Cooperatives for Inclusive and Sustainable Development
  • Cooperative Marketing, Processing, and Consumers
  • Panchayati Raj Institutions and the Cooperative Interface and Food Security
  • Cooperative Housing for Better Living
  • Cooperatives and Taxation and Law
  • Promoting Cooperative Culture and Values

In opening the 60th All India Cooperative Week in Delhi, Dr. Chandrapal Singh Yadav, President of the National Cooperative Union of India, said that the Direct Tax Code Bill will harm cooperatives. “Bringing cooperatives under taxation purview is a step backwards, as cooperatives correspond to weaker sections of socio-economic development and therefore can’t be equated with profit-oriented private bodies,” he stated. Dr. M.L. Khurana, Managing Director of the National Cooperative Housing Federation of India, echoed this view. “If the Direct Tax Code Bill is passed,” he said, “it will destroy urban cooperative banks and thrift societies.” The CEOs in attendance representing national federations unanimously agreed.

Dr. Yadav, NCUI President, described the passage of the Constitutional Amendment Bill on cooperative autonomy as a unique development for the cooperative movement in the world. However, he lamented that many states have not amended their legislation in accordance with the bill. He added that the government should entrust cooperatives with tackling the problem of inflation and rising agriculture produce prices. Cooperatives can offer various welfare schemes (PDS) that benefit people in both urban and rural areas.

B.K. Mishra, Managing Director of FISHCOPFED, said that cooperatives should build up a strong database to determine the exact number of viable and non-viable cooperatives. Dr. Dinesh, NCUI Chief Executive, read the messages of eminent dignitaries including the vice president, cabinet ministers, and state ministers. Key representatives of national- and state-level cooperative organizations were also in attendance.

The closing speech for the 60th All India Cooperative Week was organized by NCUI and delivered in Delhi on November 20, 2013. The delegates and dignitaries present called for strengthening cooperation among cooperative organizations so as to highlight their achievements.

Guest of honour Shri V.P. Singh, President of the Delhi State Cooperative Union, called for creating a central body at the national level to build awareness of the good work of cooperatives. He said the passing of the Constitutional Amendment Bill was revolutionary for the autonomous and democratic functioning of cooperatives. Shri B.D. Sinha, Managing Director of KRIBHCO, said that cooperatives should work together to resolve their functional issues. He added that cooperative principles and values are very important to the functioning of cooperatives.

Dr. G.N. Saxena, Cooperative Development Director of IFFCO, said that in the global economic slow-down, cooperatives have proven to be the most reliant institutions. He noted that because of their innate strength, cooperatives have not required any bail-out packages, unlike other organizations. Dr. Dinesh, Chief Executive of NCUI, talked about the importance of Cooperative Week celebrations and NCUI’s role in publicizing cooperative sector achievements.

Dr. Chandrapal Singh Yadav, President of the National Cooperative Union of India and Vice President of the ICA-AP Regional Board, along with NCUI Governing Council members and representatives of the National Level Cooperative Federation at the inauguration of All India Cooperative Week on November 14, 2013, in New Delhi.

About All India Cooperative Week

All India Cooperative Week is NCUI’s major image-building event for the cooperative sector. It coincides every year with the birthday of Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, and is spread over seven days beginning November 14. The event is an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of the cooperative sector, deliberate on important issues, and chalk out an effective roadmap for the future. The cooperative movement in India has made remarkable progress, now numbering more than 600,000 cooperatives and 250 million members, making it the largest cooperative movement of the world. Cooperatives have a huge network and unparalleled reach, with 100% coverage in rural areas. They play a pivotal role in the mainstream of Indian economy, particularly in the fields of rural credit, distribution of agricultural inputs, storage, fertilizer, marketing, labour, and housing.

About this year’s theme

The theme of the 60th All India Cooperative Week celebrations, “Cooperatives for Socio-Economic Resurgence in Changing Times,” is relevant because it strongly advocates that cooperatives are key to socio-economic resurgence at a time when the country is seeking a unique socio-economic model that can play an important role in balancing the economy. Although the market economy is beneficial in many ways, it has a number of limitations as its impact is not felt in rural areas, where cooperatives have a stronghold. The changing times call for inclusive growth as a key factor in removing socio-economic disparities in the country. Because cooperatives are deeply rooted in the psyche of the people, are participatory by nature, and promote equity, they are the best organizations for achieving this objective.

About the National Cooperative Union of India (NCUI)

The National Cooperative Union of India (NCUI) is an umbrella organization representing the country’s entire cooperative movement. It was established in 1929 as the All India Cooperative Institutes Association and was re-organized to become the Indian Cooperative Union through the merger of the Indian Provincial Cooperative Banks’ Association with the All India Cooperative Institutes Association, and, in 1961, the National Cooperative Union of India. The NCUI is committed to bringing a sense of dynamism and vibrancy to the cooperative sector in the 21st century. Its overarching motto is “making the voice of cooperation stronger than ever.”

Source: Ritesh Dey, Deputy Director, International Relations, NCUI