Reforms and prospects of cooperative movement in Maharashtra
India is a union of States. Co-operation is a State subject, i.e. falling within the scope of State legislation. Each State has its Co-operative Societies’ Act, as Maharashtra State Co-operative Societies Act, 1961, regulating the working of the co-operative movement in Maharashtra.
Co-operative credit structure has vital institutional arrangement for the development of agriculture and allied sectors in Maharashtra State economy, especially in rural. Co-operative credit structure in Maharashtra is a three tier structure. Co-operative credit is divided in two type’s short and medium term and long term credit. Short and medium term credit structure consists with three tiers- at the apex level there is State cooperative bank, at the district level there is Central co-operative bank, and at the village or gross root level there is Primary Agricultural Credit Societies.
The Short Term loan is made available for a period of 12 to 15 months for meeting the cost of expenditure during the agricultural season. Medium Term loan is given for a period of up to five years for the purchase of bullocks, carts, repairs to old wells etc. Thus the agricultural credit reached accurate to set their needs through the Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACS).
There is a separate structure for providing Long term agricultural credit, i.e. Maharashtra State Co-operative Agriculture and Rural Development Bank (MASCARD) at the apex level, its branches at district level and sub branches at talula level. Such loans granted by central Co-operative Land Mortgage Banks at the State level and their affiliated Primary Land Mortgage Banks at lower levels. The Long Term Loans are granted for period exceeding five years mainly for sinking of wells, permanent fencing, purchase of land, purchase of heavy agricultural machinery like tractors etc as well as for lift irrigation schemes.
Despite rapid growth the overall progress of cooperative movement during 100 years of its existence is not very impressive. It is therefore necessary to know the causes of poor performance of the movement and on that basis take such steps as would promote a faster growth of cooperative movement in India.
During past few years some beneficial and important changes have taken place in the cooperative movement which have given a quite new and progressive slant. A supportive climate has been created for the development of cooperatives as democratic and autonomous businesses providing them with the opportunities for diversification. The cooperatives have long been demanding that the Central Government introduce democratic reforms in their regulation, supervision and functioning. With the persistent efforts of the National Cooperative Union of India, the Central Government recently passed the Multi-State Cooperatives Societies Act and also formulated a national cooperative policy that provides greater autonomy to cooperatives.
The Govt is providing educated personnel and right type of leadership. Govt is adding to their responsibility of these institutions by entrusting them with the work of distributing several commodities. Govt is seeking its participation in the performance of some national tasks.: like procurement of food grains. The laws relating to cooperatives are being modified to make it qualitatively stronger. The Reserve bank of India now contributes a lot for the promotion of healthy cooperative movement through it s several activities such as supervision, research, training facilities etc. As result now there is more cooperation and coordination among different constituents of the cooperative structure.
Reforms are warranted in order to overcome its short comings and consolidate its strengths . Reorganizing the Primary Societies.: The first and foremost improvement concerns the reorganization of primary societies so that they can function properly. For this reorganization three steps are called for: One, The weak and inefficient societies should be winded and merged with strong and efficient societies. It will no doubt reduce the number of societies, but this is itself not a bad thing. Otherwise the weak societies would undermine people’s confidence in the movement and cause a set back to it from along term point of view. Two, small societies should be merged to build a larger societies. With large amount of resources at it disposal big societies can avail certain facilities, which small societies can not secure. For example, these societies can afford to engage highly trained and competent personnel and thus conduct their business efficiently. Besides, these societies can to some extent, face some deficits an d bear the burden of over dues of their members. Smaller societies can not do either of these. It is for these reasons so many societies in India are idle and dormant. Of course small societies have intimate knowledge about their members. But because of scanty resources these societies neither function efficiently not are able to do much for their members.
On the contrary the size should not be too large. It become difficult to keep proper control over the functioning of the society. Therefore Mehta committee suggested for “one village one society”. Thirdly, instead of single purpose societies multi purpose societies need to be organized Superficially single –purpose societies appear to be more useful because each one would concentrate on a specified function. But experience suggest that unless problems of the people are viewed and solved in an integrated way, the cooperative movement can make only limited progress. Multi purpose societies can have a balanced view about the needs of its members and can meet them accordingly. As result the resource of such societies are utilized efficiently and at the same time members derive the greatest possible advantages from the resources placed at their disposal. During last few years the cooperative movement has gained much from the formation of such multipurpose societies.
It has to ensure efficiency in it functioning. Therefore the importance measures are needed. Firstly, the loan from credit societies should be granted in such a manner and under such conditions that these are used productively and not misused. It is in this way that the recourses of the movement will be correctly used and their repayment is ensured. It is only then that the problem of over dues can be properly tackled. Secondly, it is necessary to maintain close coordination of activities among different constituents of the cooperative structure: primary societies at the base, organization at the central and state levels should be right type. Their relations and the coordination among their working should be so institutionalized that they work together, mutually helping instead of opposing one another. Similarly there should be close integration among cooperative institutions, Reserve Bank, State Bank, Commercial Banks, and National Bank of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Government .But it does mean that the govt or any other institution should adopt a patronizing attitude towards it. But there should be collaboration and coordination to promote the cooperative movement among the people. Thirdly, it is necessary to enlist the services of trained administrators and devoted workers in order to impart efficiency to its working and humanize its functioning.. It is also essential that the procedures of work of cooperatives should be made simple, straight and convenient. The hold of the bureaucracy should be done away with.
It is necessary to spread the movement as people’s movement. People should not think it as a part of the govt or a department of the govt.. People should own it and manage it. People should be educated and about the advantages of this movement. Educational institutions at various levels, radio, TV, newspapers, poster, and other mass media can be used for this purpose. Secondly, Govt participation and support is necessary. But it should not be patronage or interference or domination. It should facilitate its growth in healthy lines. Thirdly, the cooperative movement should be conceived and developed as a part of the national economy. Along with private and public sector, it should be treated as a separate sector in its own right. In fact, of the three sectors, the cooperative sector alone can claim to be peoples sector with human face under globalization framework. Therefore for its growth, more resources should be allocated under the five year plans of the government. Fourthly, there is need for extending the cooperative activities in all the regions of the country. The north –eastern states are lagging behind. Fifthly, there is urgent need for helping the weaker sections and vulnerable groups like SC and ST to form cooperatives in order to be free from the exploitation of middle men. Therefore appropriate concession and facilities should be extended to such societies. Finally there should be research and continuous monitoring an d inspection about the problems and constraints of different cooperative societies.. It will help to overcome the difficulties and proceed further with success. Cooperative movement will be an important impetus for rapid rural development of the country.
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