Indian cooperatives need to bring in professionalism for which state laws need to be amended in line with Central legislation to ensure the country’s 6 lakh cooperatives work as autonomous, self-reliant and democratic bodies, President Pranab Mukherjee said here on Saturday.

The Centre has brought in the 97th amendment to the Constitution which has been made effective from February 2012. The state governments have been given one year time till February, 2013 to amend their laws accordingly.

“Recently, the government has taken a big initiative for cooperatives by bringing 97th amendment to the Constitution, which enables democratic and autonomous functioning. By this amendment, right to form cooperatives has been made a fundamental right,” Mukherjee said after giving away the NCDC awards for cooperative excellence, here.

He said to take this initiative further to grass root levels, state governments also need to create an enabling environment by amending state laws as and when necessary.

Mukherjee further said although the cooperatives sector with 6 lakh cooperatives and 24 crore membership has made an effective contribution for inclusive growth the sector is confronted with challenges.

“The cooperatives in our country face many challenges and problems. Their performance across sector, activities and regions is variable. They need to re-orient by improving their efficiency and have to develop them professionally to meet requirement of their core clientele,” he said.

Echoing views, Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar said: “Never before has the need for restoring confidence of people in the cooperative sector been felt so much to achieve the goal of inclusive development.

In this context, he said, the issue of good governance has assumed importance as large number of cooperatives is experiencing serious problems “like mismanagement, financial impropriety, growing distance between members and management and weak resources, etc”.

(This article was published on December 8, 2012)
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