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Cooperatives Sector is Critical to Mainstreaming Bharat

The cooperative structure is now being recognized the world over -and not only India- as the way forward with a focus on aggregating people, products and services, providing them a platform and technology and connecting them with a market.”

Abha Toppo
Cooperatives in Milk
Cooperatives in Milk

There is a need for developing a holistic understanding of the strengths and challenges faced by cooperatives in the country. This requires developing a pragmatic approach from the reasonable success seen in sectors such as milk, credit, and agriculture.

Speaking at the opening session of the first National Multi-stakeholder Roundtable Consultation on "Performance, Challenges & Call for Action for Cooperatives in India" over a virtual platform, Dr. R. S. Sodhi, Managing Director, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation said, "India’s economy is defined by three ‘S’; Small farmers, traders and workers; Small retailers and middlemen; and Small consumers.

The cooperative structure is now being recognized the world over -and not only India- as the way forward with a focus on aggregating people, products and services, providing them a platform and technology and connecting them with a market.”

The consultation is a collaborative initiative of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA), and International Labour Organization (ILO), India, and is organized with the objective of creating a unified platform for stakeholders to synergize their efforts to boost the cooperative movement in the country.

Additionally, the consultation emphasized the need to explore more ways to infuse these good practices and processes in cooperatives across other dimensions for greater impact and realize India’s vision of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ through ‘Sahakar Se Samriddhi’.

Tarun Sawhney, Chairman, CII Rural & District Economy Council, and Vice – Chairman & MD, Triveni Engineering & Industries said, “Cooperative is truly a people-based movement. Inclusion, equitable ownership, and growth is the basis of cooperatives. Augmenting the cooperative movement further strengthens the foundation for sustainable livelihoods and enterprises for economic growth and development in the country."

Dagmar Walter, Director, International Labour Organization, India, said “Cooperatives operate at the national and at the grassroots levels. By helping people harness the power of collective bargaining, they protect their financial interests as well. I believe cooperatives have great potential in helping India advance in formalizing the informal economy, creating economies of scale, and strengthening the collective voice and efforts for inclusion and improving working conditions.

Dr. Umakant Dash, Director, Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA), was of the view that "As institutions, the need is to deliberate and solve the challenges - procedural, ecosystem-based, financial, performance-based - that the cooperative sector in India faces.

He further opined, “As an institution founded by Dr. Verghese Kurien, the architect of the White Revolution in India, IRMA has high hopes from this collaboration that brings together multiple stakeholders from a broad spectrum of cooperative governance together.”

The deliberations at the Multi-Stakeholder Consultation were structured around key areas such as policy framework, success stories and opportunities for partnerships within and beyond for cooperatives.

The event was well attended by senior representatives from industry, UN agencies, academia, cooperatives, start-ups, and development specialists from ITC, Dabur, IFFCO, AMUL, Nurtur Farm, Bain & Company, ILO, IRMA, the National Cooperative Union of India, SEWA, Sahakar Bharati, the International Cooperative Alliance, National Cooperative Dairy Federation of India Limited, among many others. The Consultation acts as a precursor to a National-level Summit, scheduled to be held indicatively in May -June 2022.

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