Co-operatives for rural development

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Dr Banarsi Lal & Dr Vikas Tandon

Indian economy in the past, presently and in future will remain predominantly depend on rural development because very high proportion of the Indian population lives in rural areas. In 1901, 89 per cent of the Indian total population was residing in the rural areas while still about 70 per cent population live in the rural areas.
It is expected that by the turn of 21st century at least 50 per cent of population would be living in the rural areas. About two-third of the workforce is engaged in agriculture.
In an agrarian country like India rural development is must for national development. In order to improve quality of life of rural people, rural development is essential.
It requires a sustainable increase in the access of each and every individual to the basic necessities of life. Also every individual self-respect is must. Development is the cherished goal of every individual, family, community and nation.
Hence, it is the prime responsibility of every nation to initiate and sustain the process of development. Agriculture contributes about 19.9 per cent of India’s gross domestic product.
Development is influenced by the multiple factors such as natural resources, innovative technologies, human resources, different developmental programmes and schemes, policies etc.
Different institutions and organisations play the significant role for rural development. They help in the rural development by way of provision of inputs, services, by influencing investments and savings etc.
There is positive correlation between different organisations and level of rural development. In fact, all developed nations are well organised and all developing countries are either not fully organised or poorly organised.
Lack of appropriate organisations is one of the most serious hurdles on the pace and development of rural areas. There is dire need to redesign and launch appropriate organisations for the rural development.
Presently India has achieved self-sufficiency in the food grain production and milk production-the two important ingredients for the vegetarian diet. These two things have been achieved due to green revolution launched in the late sixties and white revolution launched in the early seventies.
In 1950-51 the food grain production in the country was only 51 million tonnes which has increased to 291.95 million tonnes in 2019-20. Now, India has emerged as the leading milk producer in the world leaving behind the United States of America. Now per capita availability of good grains in our country is 487.00 gm per day.
Currently the milk production in our country has increased to 198.4 million tonnes.
The per capita availability of milk in India has increased to 407 gms/day. Per hectare yield rates of the major crops have also reasonably increased.
Rapid urbanisation, change in food habits from consumption of food grains to milk and milk products, fruits and vegetables are new challenges to the Indian agriculture.
Although India has made an impressive progress in the food grain production and milk production, the achievements in the poverty eradication and improving the life expectancy have been dismal.
Still the percentage of people below the poverty line is still high, life expectancy, per capita income and Human Development Index is still low.
It has been observed that development in India is both encouraging and discouraging and there is need to enhance both.
So, it is necessary to identify the determinants of development and implement them to achieve the desired level development.
There are many organizations in India which are actively working in agriculture and rural development. They include public, companies, co-operatives, partnerships, charitable societies, trusts, institutions etc. All these organisations work together to cater the needs of the rural people.
Rural development should be considered as the joint venture of public, private, co-operative, corporate.
A systematic and balance approach is needed for the development of rural India.
Although government makes efforts for the development of the rural development but government alone cannot solve all the rural problems.
Co-operatives, voluntary organisations, corporations and private sectors all can play their role for the rural development by complementing the activities of the government.
The role of government should be to define the role of other agencies, coordinate and regulate their activities and provide certain facilities and services which are not provided by the other agencies.
It is necessary that rural people should be organised within an institutional structure that gives them access to the national, political, economic and social system. In India, co-operatives are the most commonly found form of people’s organisations.
Co-operation has been emphasized across the globe. Co-operation is manifest in countless social activities performed by the man for attaining the common goal. A co-operative is generally observed as socio-economic organisation that can fulfil both social and economic objectives of its members.
A co-operative has certain values and principles of its own which distinguish it from other organisations. Economic, social and moral are three dimensions of co-operatives.
The motto of co-operation, ‘Each for all and all for each’, signifies loyalty, trust and faith.
A co-operative is democratic institution of the members, for the members and by the members. Co-operatives have more advantage as compared to the other forms of organisations in involving the people, in mobilising the resources and achieving the desired goals.
All these advantages help co-operatives in improving their competitive position. Even Gandhiji considered co-operation as a great instrument for rural development.
He suggested the specific roles of co-operatives in the agricultural sector and promoted the co-operative farming and thereby suggested for further fragmentation of land holdings.
He suggested weavers and spinners co-operatives, credit co-operatives and dairy co-operatives. Pt Jawahar Lal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India had a strong favour of co-operatives. Sardar Vallabhai Patel, the first Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister of India, had a great faith in co-operation as a means of promoting farmers well-being. He guided and assisted for Kheda District Co-operative Milk Producers Union Limited popularly known as Amul. Co-operatives occupy an important position in India’s rural economy.
India has the largest network of co-operatives in the world. Co-operatives now cover around all the Indian villages and 67 per cent of rural population, nearly 49 per cent of the rural credit, 60 per cent of total sugar produced and 35 per cent of total fertilizers distributed in the country.
The Indian Farmers Fertilizers Co-operative (IFFCO) and Krishak Bharati Co-operative (KRIBHCO) are the two co-operative fertilizers plants which manufacture about 21 per cent of total fertilizers produced in the country.
The Anand Dairy co-operatives are considered to be the most successful in serving their members and society on large scale.
Co-operatives that are owned and controlled by their members and properly managed can ensure the good quality products at a reasonable price to the consumer.
Thus, they help to improve the welfare of both the producers and consumers as has been demonstrated by Anand – pattern dairy co-operatives.
(The writers are Scientist & Head, KVK Reasi and Professor SKUAST-J.)