Cooperation Minister Amit Shah
The cooperative movement and organisations will play a key role in making India a $5-trillion economy, helping unlock the potential of the rural economy as the country recovers from the coronavirus pandemic, home minister Amit Shah said on September 25.
Shah, who also heads the recently formed ministry of cooperation, laid out the roadmap for the new department and said the Modi government would bring in a new policy for cooperatives.
“Our aim is to take development to rural areas at a faster pace and greater scale within a swadeshi framework,” Shah said while addressing the first National Cooperative Conference in New Delhi.
The event was organised by cooperatives like IFFCO, NAFED, Sahakar Bharat and Amul.
The Centre would seek Parliament’s nod for legislative changes to strengthen and expand multi-state cooperatives and expand the footprint of primary agricultural credit societies (PACs).
PACs are the smallest and basic cooperative credit institutions in the country.
“We will work and cooperate with all states to strengthen the cooperative revolution in the country,” Shah said.
The government was working on a project to digitally connect PACs to district cooperative banks and national cooperatives like NABARD through a single accounting and book-keeping software.
Cooperatives would play a major role in priority-sector lending and the aim was to overhaul agricultural financing, Shah said.
“On their part, cooperatives have to bring in transparency in their functioning, membership, elections, accounts and day-to-day work,” the minister said.
Work has begun on a national database for cooperatives and the Centre was planning higher education institutions run by cooperatives.
"I have been involved with the cooperative movement for 25 years. I still get asked whether cooperatives are relevant or not. To them, I say that the cooperative revolution is more relevant than ever," Shah said.
He cited the examples of Amul, the country’s best-known milk brand and Lijjat Papad that was started by seven women in 1959 and has grown into a multi-million dollar business employing 45,000 women across the country.
The ministry of cooperation, which is not even two months old, has been tasked with framing general policy for co-operation and co-ordination of such activities in all sectors. Sector-specific cooperatives will continue to be overseen by the relevant ministries.
The ministry’s aim is to strengthen the cooperative movement and deepen its reach by promoting economic development and the creation of appropriate policy, legal and institutional framework to help cooperatives realise their potential.