The Indian co-operative movement is grieving the loss of Balvinder Singh Nakai, the chair of the Indian Farmers Fertilisers Cooperative (IFFCO), who passed away at the age of 87 on 11 October.
A farmer from Punjam, he had played a key role in developing IFFCO’s farmer-oriented policies. Involved in the co-operative movement for over three decades, he became chair of IFFCO in 2014 after having served as vice chair. In addition to his IFFCO role, he served as the chair of the Malwa Fruit and Vegetable Cooperative Procurement Society.
Tributes from fellow co-operators and local politicians poured in on social media following Nakai’s passing.
IFFCO’s managing director, Dr U.S. Awasti, said: “We are deeply saddened and shocked by the demise of our beloved Sardar Balvinder Singh Nakai Ji, chair of IFFCO. He was one of the greatest co-operators. My heartfelt condolences to his family.”
India’s prime minister Narendra Modi also sent condolences via social media. “Sardar Balvinder Singh Nakai Ji was a doyen of the agriculture and co-operatives sector. He made pioneering contributions towards empowering farmers. His passing away is saddening. Condolences to his family and well-wishers. May his soul rest in peace,” he tweeted.
Shri Banwarilal Purohit, governor of Punjab and administrator, UT, Chandigarh, also highlighted Nakai’s legacy as an eminent farmer and co-operator, and his role in strengthening the Indian co-operative movement.
And Balu Iyer, regional director for Asia-Pacific of the International Co-operative Alliance, tweeted: “Deeply saddened to hear about the passing of IFFCO chair Mr Balvinder Singh Nakai. A soft spoken but astute co-operator who understood needs of member and co-operatives. ICA Asia-Pacific conveys its heartfelt condolences to IFFCO and Mr Nakai’s family.”