Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who is also the first minister of cooperation of India, addressed the maiden National Cooperative Conference (Sehkarita Sammelan) on Saturday at the Indira Gandhi Indoor Stadium in the national capital, where he outlined the government’s vision and roadmap for the development of this sector.
Addressing the conference, organised by cooperative bodies IFFCO, National Cooperative Federation of India, Amul, Sahakar Bharti, NAFED and KRIBHCO, among others, Shah said it was a matter of pride for him as he was chosen to be the country's first cooperative minister. "I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving me this opportunity," he told a crowd of over 2,000 people who had gathered at the stadium; another six crore joined the event in virtually.
It's a matter of pride for me as I was chosen as country's first Cooperative Minister. I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi for giving me the opportunity: Union Home Minister Amit Shah pic.twitter.com/NEbmIrHvVP
— ANI (@ANI) September 25, 2021
In July, the Centre announced the formation of a separate Union Ministry of Cooperation, an area that was looked after by the Ministry of Agriculture. At the time, a press release said the Ministry of Cooperation will provide a separate administrative legal and policy framework for strengthening the cooperative movement in the country.
At the event, Shah also invoked the spirit of Deendayal Upadhyaya on his birth anniversary, saying workers had taken inspiration from the co-founder of the Bharatiya Jana Sangh.
Stressing that the cooperative movement was more relevant today than ever, Shah said cooperatives can contribute a lot in the development of the country. According to the cooperative minister, the cooperatives will play a crucial part in making India a $5 trillion economy.
Referring to the problems faced by cooperatives on taxation front and other issues, Shah said he was aware of the concerns and assured that there would be no injustice towards them.
"We will have to think afresh, outline afresh, expand the scope of work, and bring transparency," Shah said.
He also announced that the number of primary agriculture cooperatives (PACs) will be increased to three lakh in the next five years. At present, there are about 65,000 PACs.
In his address, Shah outlined the mission of the cooperation ministry, saying that it is his dream to connect every village with a cooperative, which will, in turn, lead to prosperity.
Talking on the government's plan for the sector, Shah said that the Ministry of Cooperation has been created to strengthen, promote, modernise, make them transparent, keep them competitive and keep them competitive.
To elaborate on the significance of cooperative, he gave the example of Amul. "Amul did what the big corporates could not do. Today 36 lakh farmers are with Amul."
He also said in the case of any type of disaster -- be it floods, or cyclones -- cooperatives always provided help.
On the proposed new cooperative policy, Shah said a policy was brought in 2002 by the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and now the Modi government will start working on a new policy.
He also struck a conciliatory tone, saying the Ministry of Cooperation would run cooperatively with all the states and it was not made to cause conflict with any state. “There will be no friction", he said.
Cooperatives are organisations formed at the grassroots level by people to harness the power of collective bargaining towards a common goal. The country has 1,94,195 cooperative dairy societies and 330 cooperative sugar mill operations.
Sanjiv Babar, former managing director of Maharashtra State Federation of Cooperative Sugar Mills, had highlighted in an interview with the Indian Express, why such a ministry would be beneficial to the country.
"Various studies conducted by institutions like Vaikunt Mehta Institute of Cooperative Management have shown the cooperative structure has managed to flourish and leave its mark only in a handful of states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka etc. Under the new ministry, the cooperative movement would get the required financial and legal power needed to penetrate into other states also,” he was quoted as saying.
Inputs from agencies