The Narendra Modi led central government opened its doors for cabinet expansion where new leaders got inducted while the incumbent ministers saw their exit. It was the first instance of change in the council of ministers since the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. With that, the government created the Ministry of Cooperation on Tuesday.
The United Nations General Assembly had announced the year 2012 as the Year of Cooperatives, globally. India is an agricultural country and laid the foundation of the World’s largest cooperative movement. A cooperative-based economic development model is significant in India, where each member functions with a sense of responsibility and commitment.
Besides handling the Union Home Ministry, Amit Shah has been given charge of the new ministry. The objective of the Ministry of Cooperation is to provide the ease of doing business and has a key role to play in the agricultural, banking and housing sectors.
Its vision is “Sahkar se samriddhi” (Prosperity from cooperation). Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had made the statement regarding the formation of this ministry in her Budget speech this year. She added, “To further streamline the ease of doing business for cooperatives, I propose to set up a separate administrative structure for them.”
The government said that it indicates its fulfilment to community-based developmental associations. Shah stated that the new ministry would bring welfare to the rural and agricultural sectors and will assist the cooperative sector in reaching new heights.
According to the Press Information, the ministry will offer a bureau, separate administrative, legal and policy framework for reinforcing the cooperative movement in the country and will help focus on cooperatives as a people-based movement attached to the grassroots.
Former Health Minister Dr Harshvardhan said, “Community driven enterprises and cooperative based economic development models are deeply imbibed in Indian system and a source of pride for their members. This ministry will provide a separate administrative, legal and policy framework for strengthening the cooperative movement.”
The International Labour Organisation defines Cooperative as “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”. For instance, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd, which associates with nearly 36 million milk producers in the western state, handles an Indian dairy cooperative society named Amul.
Cooperatives offer agricultural credits and funds where state and private sectors can’t do much in their roles. The cooperatives send out strategic inputs for the farming sector while consumer societies fulfil their intake requirements at concessional levels.
The Constitution (97th Amendment) Act, 2011 included a new Part IXB right after Part IXA (Municipals) on the cooperatives working in India. In 19(1)(c), under Part III of the Constitution, the term “cooperatives” was added after “unions and associations”.
It acts as an organization for the poor trying to tackle their issues collectively and softens the class disputes, including lowering the social cleavages.
It also lowers the bureaucratic evils and follies of political factions and resolves the constraints of agricultural development. Finally, it provides a conducive environment for small and cottage industries in the country.