Co-operative Strength

Nagaland joined the rest of the country in commemorating the 52nd All India Co-operative week. The theme ‘Strengthen Co-operatives for Economic Resurgence’ could not have been more well timed coming at a time when public in general are being imbibed on the importance of self reliance as a concomitant to economic prosperity. The occasion calls for a critical assessment of the movement itself which is almost in disarray. The admission of the Minister for Planning Dr Shurhozelie that some individuals own as many as 20 registered societies should not come as a surprise given that most of them remain as personal and family fiefdom merely for mobilizing funds to pay for their self-gratification. 

The manner in which most cooperatives function are also far from the ideals envisioned, which is to meet the common economic, social and cultural/needs and aspirations of society as a whole. It is very well known that co-operatives were necessitated to avoid the exploitation of the poor and those who did not have access to resources. Sadly the movement in Nagaland does not have much of a democratic base nor does it have anything to do with professional management which only goes to show that societies exist in name only without them contributing anything meaningful for the state economy.

There are a few exceptions though such as the success of the Dairy Cooperatives under the platform of KOMUL which has empowered the dairy farmers to some extent. 

The State government should on its part make a conscious effort to formulate a Nagaland specific Cooperative Act as presently, the cooperative organizations have been governed by the Assam Cooperative Act, 1949. The Act should make provisions for promoting democratic and autonomous functioning of the cooperatives and lessen the interference of the government. Only in such a cooperative friendly environment will they be able to compete with the private sector. 

Ministers and politicians should not allowed to be Chairpersons of Multi-State Co-operative societies since the main objective of the co-operative movement is to provide a safety net for the poorer sections and from being exploited. Many a times, such societies are used as a political instrument by politicians.  The Government also must take care that no particular person or group of persons, captures the society. There is also the need for education and training for the members who form the co-operative. They should be well aware of their rights, privileges as well as duties. Without the knowledge of these facts the members will merely be names on the roll-register. It is also important that the members who are elected to manage the co-operative should possess adequate managerial skills.

In this age of globalisation, there is a greater need to deepen and strengthen the roots of Co-operative venture in order to safeguard the interest of common people and churning them into viable economic ventures in alleviating poverty and unemployment in the State.