Home Minister Amit Shah, considered the most trusted of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, has been given another new ministry.
A new cooperative ministry has been created in the Modi government and its responsibility was handed over to Amit Shah in the cabinet expansion on July 7.
Amit Shah has been the head of Ahmedabad District Central Cooperative Bank for a long time but now this sector has become a separate ministry for him.
It was during the time of Amit Shah’s chief that the matter of depositing the oldest notes came to the fore during demonetisation. This information was revealed through an RTI.
The Modi government has already created many new ministries. Like- Jal Shakti, Ganga cleaning, Skill Development and Ministry of AYUSH. The names of some ministries and institutions were also changed. Like the Ministry of Human Resource Development became the Ministry of Education and the Planning Commission became the NITI Aayog.
The BJP government has made many such changes. For example, Prime Minister Modi changed the name of his residence in New Delhi from Race Course Road to Lok Kalyan Marg. How much all this had an effect on the work and how much benefit the people got are a matter of debate.
Earlier the work of cooperatives used to come under the Ministry of Agriculture but now it has been given the form of a separate ministry. The Press Information Bureau of the Government of India had issued a press release regarding the separate Ministry of Cooperation.
It states that a separate policy and administrative framework will be prepared to further strengthen the cooperative movement in the country.
According to PIB’s press release, “The creation of a separate cooperative ministry will help reach remote areas. Cooperative based economic development is very relevant in our country. In this model everyone works with responsibility and enthusiasm. This ministry will work to make business accessible.
In her budget speech also, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had stressed on the need to strengthen cooperatives. On Saturday, Amit Shah also held a meeting with the heads of some cooperative institutions.
After the meeting, Amit Shah released the picture on social media and wrote, “Today NCUI (National Cooperative Union of India) President Dilip Sanghani, IFFCO Chairman BS Nakai, Managing Director US Awasthi and NAFED Chairman Dr. Bijendra Singh met Mr. Under the leadership of Modi ji, we are determined to further strengthen cooperatives and all cooperative institutions.
Co-operative institutions have been created through collective efforts at the grassroots level, which have a welfare goal. For example, cooperative dairies, sugar mills and textile mills in the agriculture sector were built by farmers with the aim of getting a good price for their products from their shared resources.
At present there are about two lakh cooperative dairy societies and 330 cooperative sugar mills in India. According to the annual report of the National Dairy Development Board for 2019-20, cooperative dairies bought 4.80 crore liters of milk every day from 1.7 crore members and sold 3.7 crore liters of liquid milk every day. Similarly, the share of cooperative sugar mills in the country’s sugar production is 35%.
Co-operative institutions are spread in rural and urban areas across the country in the banking and financial sector. There are primary agricultural credit societies at the village level. These societies send the demand for estimates of village expenses to the district cooperative banks.
These cooperative institutions play an important role in providing credit to the villagers. Due to the collective participation in these cooperative banks, the farmers have the right of bargaining in taking loans, which is not there in other commercial banks. Along with this, there are cooperative marketing societies in rural areas and cooperative housing societies in urban areas.
Financial strength of these institutions
According to the NABARD Annual Report for 2019-20, there are a total of 95,238 Primary Agriculture Societies (PACS), 363 District Cooperative Central Banks and 33 State Cooperative Banks in the country. The State Cooperative Bank received an amount of Rs 6,104 crore from investors and a total of Rs 1,35,393 crore was deposited.
On the other hand, District Co-operative Banks received Rs 21,447 from investors and deposited 3,78,248. The main job of district cooperative banks is to give short term loans to the farmers and it disbursed 3,00,034 crore loans in 19-20. Similarly, state co-operative banks give loans to the industry related to agricultural products. These include sugar and textile mills. State co-operative banks gave loans of Rs 1,48,625 crore in 2019-20.
In urban areas, cooperative banks and cooperative credit societies have expanded the scope of their service. Due to this, people of many sectors have also benefited. According to RBI data, there are a total of 1,539 urban co-operative banks in the country whose capital was Rs 14,933.54 in the year 2019-20.
Like agriculture, cooperatives are also in the concurrent list. This means that the cooperative sector is under the jurisdiction of both the central and state governments. State laws apply to most co-operative societies. In this, help is taken from a Cooperative Commissioner and Registrar of Societies Office.
The Center enacted the Multi-State Co-operative Societies Act in 2002, under which co-operative societies were allowed to function in more than one state.
Most of these include businesses like banks, dairy and sugar mills. Their scope is in more than one state. These are controlled by the Central Registrar of Societies but the actual control rests with the State Registrar.
Question on the intention of the Modi government
It is also being said that the formation of a new ministry will give impetus to the cooperative movement in the rest of the states like Maharashtra, Gujarat and Karnataka. Co-operative institutions get money from the center and the state governments give guarantees.
But this system is working properly only in some states. For the past several years, the cooperative sector has been grappling with the shortage of funds. It is being said that due to a separate ministry in the coming years, cooperative institutions can get new energy.
The interference of cooperative institutions in Maharashtra politics is very effective. In Maharashtra, more than 100 MLAs are associated with some kind of cooperative institutions. Even in Maharashtra, NCP chief Sharad Pawar and current Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar started their political career with the elections to be held in cooperative institutions. The role of cooperative institutions in the economy of Maharashtra is very important.
The creation of a new ministry is being criticized by opposition parties and they allege that the BJP’s intention is to control cooperative institutions in Maharashtra and Gujarat. The monsoon session of Parliament is starting from July 19 and this issue may heat up in Parliament.
The opposition says that the Modi government has made a move to create a new ministry to bring the cooperative movement under its control.
Senior Congress leader Ramesh Chenithala has told the English newspaper The Hindu that this is a well-planned move of the Modi government to take cooperative institutions from the control of the states.
He told The Hindu, “BJP wants complete control over the cooperative movement, that is why by creating a separate ministry, Amit Shah has been made a minister. Co-operative is a state subject and it is part of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution. How can these ministries be formed without bringing any bill in Parliament?
In Maharashtra, Kerala, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh, cooperative institutions are considered to play an important role in reaching power. Many of these moneyed cooperatives are controlled by the opposition Nationalist Congress Party, CPIM and Congress.
CPI general secretary D Raja has said that the government has not given the reason for creating a separate ministry and Amit Shah’s appointment raises many questions. D Raja says that this is an encroachment on the subject of the state and he will take up the matter in the monsoon session. CPIM general secretary Sitaram Yechury has also raised the question and said that the government is eyeing the cash of cooperative banks.
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