New Delhi: Indian cooperatives will need to catch up with such institutions in other countries, President Pranab Mukherjee said on Tuesday, while emphasising on greater requirement of these bodies in a liberal and globalised economic order.
"Today, the Indian cooperative movement has proved to be an effective economic instrument for ensuring growth with equity and inclusiveness. ...However, if we look at the contribution cooperatives are making in different parts of the world, we have a fair bit of catching up to do", Mukherjee said at the 16th Indian Cooperative Congress.
"A renaissance of sorts" is needed in Indian cooperative sector which faces many challenges and problems. Their performance across sectors is variable and hence they need to re-orient themselves by improving their efficiency, he said.
The Centre has enacted the 97th Constitutional amendment to enable democratic, autonomous and professional functioning of cooperatives. "By this amendment, the right to form a cooperative has now become a fundamental right," he added.
To take this initiative further to the grass roots level, Mukherjee said the respective state governments also need to create enabling environment by amending State laws as and when necessary.
Disagreeing to some arguments that cooperative societies must wither away in a liberal and globalised economic order, the President said, "In my view the need for cooperatives is greater in current context than it was ever before. The recent global financial crisis has shown the merits of low-risk customer-owned cooperative banking over excessive risk-taking investor owned global financial institutions."
As cooperatives play a significant role in achieving inclusive economic growth, he said, they have to develop professionally and become commercially viable.
Co-operatives must receive recognition as an important sector of the economy because they cover 99 per cent of villages and 71 per cent of rural households in India,he said.
At present, there are about six lakh cooperatives with a membership base of 24 crore.