India celebrates Co-op Week with a look at the role of the movement

'Co-operatives have played an important role in poverty eradication, employment generation, creating social harmony and building up a society without any discrimination'

India has been holding events across the country for its 66th national Co-operative Week (14-20 November).

Co-ordinated by the National Cooperative Union of India (NCUI), the apex body for the sector, this year’s celebration looks at the ‘role of co-ops in new India’. New India is a movement aiming to build a strong and prosperous country, free of poverty, casteism, terrorism and other problems.

With the co-op movement looking to increase its innovations to help drive this process, the week has seen workshops, discussions, presentations and award presentations across the country to drive home the co-op message and develop its future strategy.

NCUI has highlighted innovations already under way, such as co-ops helping to diversify the rural economy from farming to real estate, power, insurance, tourism, healthcare and communications.

Each day of the week has had a separate focus – innovation through rural co-ops; enabling legislation for co-ops; re-orienting training and education through success stories; strengthening co-operation among co-operatives; new initiatives of government through co-operatives; co-operatives for youth, women and weaker sections; and financial inclusion, technology adoption and digitalisation through co-operatives.

Examples of innovative co-ops highlighted by NCUI include Irula Snake Catchers’ Cooperative near Chennai, which collects snake venom for which is commercially used for medicinal purposes; Dhundi Solar Pump Irrigators’ Cooperative in Gujarat, which uses solar power to water crops and sells off surplus energy; Shri Mahila Udyog Lijjat Pappad, a women’s co-op which has provided self-employment to urban women making poppadoms; and Swach Cooperative in Pune, a waste-collectors’ collective.

Chandra Pal Singh Yadav, president of NCUI, said: “The theme of National Cooperative Week clearly emphasises the significant role of co-operatives in building up a New India.

“Co-operatives have played an important role in poverty eradication, employment generation, creating social harmony and building up a society without any discrimination to a particular class or section of the society.

“They are also playing an important role in the implementation of government schemes as they have an extensive network and reach in all parts of the country.”

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