Greasing Wheels of Cooperatives

S O Junare
S O Junare, Director, National Institute of Cooperative Management (NICM)

With a democratic management set-up and dedicated leadership, the cooperative sector is making a significant contribution to the economy of the country. S O Junare, Director, National Institute of Cooperative Management (NICM), tells Elets News Network (ENN) how the organisation has been working towards empowering the cooperative sector.

What does National Institute of Cooperative Management (NICM) stand for and what are its aims and objectives?

The National Institute of Cooperative Management or NICM is an autonomous training and educational institution, promoted by the Gujarat State Cooperative Bank Ltd — an apex cooperative bank of the State. It is engaged in training, research, consultancy and publication in the field of cooperatives like cooperative banks, cooperative credit societies, cooperative sugar bodies, agriculture marketing, cooperative auditing etc.

NICM is accredited by the National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) as centre of professional excellence in cooperatives. It is also approved by the Gujarat Technological University as post- graduate centre for conducting MBA and MCA courses and Ph.D in Management and Cooperation.

What is your perspective on the contribution of cooperative sector to the economy of our country?

Cooperative sector is the only sector which has more than 98 per cent reach in the rural India. It provides all necessary inputs, essential commodities and services to the people at reasonable rates at their doorsteps. The cooperative sector in India has 30-40 per cent share in milk procurement, milk processing, fertiliser production, marketing of agricultural inputs, and handloom and handicrafts production.

The cooperative credit plays a significant role in credit disbursement, accounting for about 30 per cent of the total agricultural credit. Of this, 60 per cent share in the credit is given to small and marginal farmers. If cooperative sector had not been there, then over 50 per cent of these farmers would have no option but to go to moneylenders only.

What, according to you, is the reason behind better growth of the cooperative sector in states like Maharashtra, Gujarat and Kerala, as compared to others?

greasing-wheelsCooperatives are democratic and member-driven organisations. They are owned and run by the members for the socio-economic welfare of the community. Therefore, growth of cooperative societies depends on its members, especially the leaders. In states like Gujarat and Maharashtra, the reasons for progress of cooperative sector are democratic management and dedicated leadership.

How is NICM contributing to the development and growth of the cooperative sector?

Since its inception in 1995, NICM caters to the needs of educating the management, imparting training to the employees and generating awareness among the members. The organisation conducts training programmes on various aspects of management, business operations, policy implementation and its implications. We at NICM conduct research in different areas and give suggestions to policy makers for sustainable growth of the cooperative sector.

What helped the Gujarat cooperative banking sector grow despite the Madhavpura scam?

After Madhavpura scam, all the cooperative sectors became alert, as the government had introduced stringent norms. Managements of the urban cooperative banks (UCBs) took several steps to gain public confidence, and people at large have also become aware of the strengths and weaknesses of such banks. A number of professionally accomplished employees and directors entered the cooperative banking sector, and today, all existing urban banks are working in good condition.

What do you think is the next big thing in the cooperative sector?

Several small cooperative societies, especially cooperative marketing societies, will face serious problems of existence. However, the well-established sectors like cooperative dairy and cooperative credit will continue to see sustainable growth.

However, the government could reduce one tier from the three-tier cooperative credit structure. District Central Cooperative Banks (DCCBs), PACs or state cooperative banks may also work together under a consolidated mode, and DCCBs may agree to work as branches of SCB, or PACs may work as the branches of DCCB. Also, the cooperative banks will adopt IT and other technological solutions to improve their services, retain old customers and attract new customers.

What initiatives will help further improve the cooperative sector?

Cooperation among cooperatives is a key success mantra, and involvement of younger generation and professional management will help the cooperative sector grow further.

Cooperatives are democratic and member-driven organisations. They are owned and run by the members for the socio-economic welfare of the community

What is your dream project vis-à-vis the cooperative sector?

We have seen that when cooperatives become big, they lose the cooperative character, and start serving big people—who already have various alternative sources— conveniently forgetting the poor, downtrodden and the weaker sections.

Our dream is to establish one integrated cooperative complex in Gujarat, which will have all types of cooperative societies under one roof. These societies will provide all kinds of services, including employment, business, income generating activities, health services, education, etc., at one place.

We wish that each sugar factory, district-level dairy and cooperative banks having `100 crore or more deposits establish one educational institute or hospital.

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