Co-operatives can have far reaching impact as they can provide answers to specific needs of underdeveloped areas like that of Kashmir. But the co-operative movement needs support from the development community to reach its potential.
There is strength in numbers and the co-op movement’s founding principles can benefit development work.
The success of co-op movement in many parts of the globe remind us that co-operatives are much more than our local shop, or a troubled bank. They are a dynamic people centred business model operating in more than 100 countries. Co-operatives come in all shapes and sizes and all sectors of the economy. In developing countries 75% of Fair trade products are from farmers’ co-operatives. In the 1950s and 60s, co-operatives, particularly in Africa, were seen as major players in development, loaded down with expectations, as well as government interference. As a result, many failed, and co-operatives were written off by most development agencies.
In recent decades, co-operatives have made a comeback. We know that co-operatives can and do make major contributions to millennium development goals. They can generate income for their members and also offer a range of benefits – depending on why they are set up. In meeting their members needs co-operatives enhance incomes and secure livelihoods for their members and their communities.
The role of co-op movement getting secured recognition forced the world body, United Nations to announce 2016 as the year of UN International Year of Co-operatives. The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation sees co-operatives as key to feeding the world; the International Labour Organisation as a way of organising in the informal economy.
However, the co-op movement has not been able to make its presence in the state. Take for an example the J&K State Cooperative Agriculture & Rural Development Bank (SCARDB).
The co-op institution been constantly running on loss, which for the previous financial year is computed at 6 crore rupees. What is more worrisome is that the institutions top management had forwarded a proposal which sought regularization of more than 120 employees who have been working temporarily.
The move would have cost the institution an increased cost of another three Cr Rupees. Though, the proposal has been shelved, but one things needs clarity and that is the role and interference of political leadership.
What we have learnt is that the institution is on the verge of a collapse as the former regime NC-Congress Combine has made numerous backdoor entries in the institution making it hard to survive and provide for the increased operational cost.
This being one example, the co-op movement in the state has been witnessing an unrelenting interference by the political leadership and the fallout is there for everyone to observe.