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 virtual platform on March 02, 2022, 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 recognised the world over – and not only India – as the way forward with focus on aggregating people, products and services, providing them a platform and technology and connecting them with a market.”
The consultation was a collaborative initiative of the Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA), Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), and International Labour Organization (ILO), India, and was organised with the objective of creating a unified platform for stakeholders to synergise their efforts to boost the cooperative movement in the country.
Additionally, the consultation emphasised on 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’.
Dr. Umakant Dash, Director, IRMA, speaking at the Multi-stakeholder Consultation
At the Consultation, 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.”
Dr. Satyendra Pandey, Associate Professor, IRMA, moderated a panel on success models in cooperatives. The panelists Mr. K C Supekar, MD, National Cooperative Dairy Federation of India Ltd., Ms. Mirai Chatterjee, Director, SEWA Social Security and Mr. Tarun Bhargava, General Manager, Cooperative Services IFFCO, emphasised on the cooperative principles of trust, solidarity, and independence as critical success factors for success models of cooperatives. The panelists identified major challenges for cooperatives in the form of a lack of professional and stable leadership, information on the benefits of cooperatives, human resource capacities, and access to capital. Ms. Chatterjee highlighted three Ps of enabling success for cooperatives- Patience, Persistence, and perseverance. The panelists recommended policy action, setting up enterprise support systems, building digital architecture, and building capacity at multiple levels to place cooperatives in the right trajectory for growth and success.
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, the 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.