Saga of Lijjat papad, co-operative and Anaskar

Recently, the Indian Cooperative team conducted an interview with Vidhyadhar Anaskar, a veteran cooperator and Chairman of the Maharashtra Urban Cooperative Bank Federation. During the interview Anaskar talked about his life which was full of struggles.

Anaskar recounted how his mother, Anusuva Anaskar had set up Shri Mahila Grija Udyog Lijjat Papad in 1964 with the help of six women and how she would work hard to produce Papad. Anaskar said he was extremely poor and it was entirely thanks to his association with the cooperative movement that he could move upward in life. The MUCBF chairman has been associated with the cooperative sector for long 30 years now.

By profession an excise consultant, Anaskar has been enlightening the Maharashtra Police for 18 years on how to investigate economic offences.

In the interview, he not only highlighted the goals and targets set for MUCBF in the coming years but also its role in raising the issues related to UCBs. Anaskar talked about the history of the cooperative federation as well as the role of registrar of cooperative societies in strengthening UCBs in the state.


Indian Cooperative: When did Maharashtra Urban Cooperative Bank Federation come into existence and how many UCBs are its members?

Vidhyadhar Anaskar: MUCBF was established in 1979 under the leadership of Budhi Halkar. Presently, there are 506 UCBs active in Maharashtra out of which 501 UCBs are our members. The banks having their headquarters outside Maharashtra as well as having branches in Maharashtra are our members. Former President of India Pratibha Patil was one of the directors of our federation, he claimed.

Ten years ago, the number of our members was very low but after I took the charge our membership multiplied.

In the last 15 years, about 105 banks went into liquidation.

IC: What services are you giving to member banks?

Vidhyadhar Anaskar: Our Federation is active and focusing on innovative banking. We immediately address complaints lodged by our member banks. We also offer legal services free of cost i.e. if any UCB approached us with any legal question we answer their queries in a day or two.

If there is any complaint pending with the registrar, we see to this that action is taken on a priority basis.

We focus on training directors and staff members. We have also formulated policies on staff accountability, investment, loans and many others which can help Urban Cooperative Banks grow further.

IC: Is the state cooperative registrar supportive of the federation?

Vidhyadhar Anaskar: Whenever policy decisions related to UCBs need to be taken, the state registrar would call us and consult with us before finalizing them.

We have no issues with the Registrar and he is sensitive to us. According to the Maharashtra State Cooperative Act 1960 “if RCS wants to dissolve a board of the bank, the Registrar should consult with the MUCB federation and the federation should reply within 45 days”.

IC: What are the challenges you are facing in running the federation as per the guidelines laid down by the Reserve Bank of India.

Vidhyadhar Anaskar: We have urged the RBI to change the mechanism of the task force because the meeting called for discussions with the federation representative on plans and policies are barely fruitful. In several meetings, we have told the apex bank if things are already decided such meetings are unnecessary.

We have emphasized that before releasing any circular related to UCBs, the apex bank should release the draft circulars to UCBs for comments as the RBI does in the case of commercial banks.

We have demanded that the same system should be adopted for UCBs. We know the ground reality and the RBI does not know much about what is going on in the field. There should be regular consultations with the sector.

Briefly put, these are some of the challenges we are facing.

When Karuppasamay was the Executive Director of the Reserve Bank of India, he appreciated the work of Maharashtra Urban Cooperative Federation. It is worth recalling that in a meeting of federations he had declared MUCBF as the most active federation in the country.


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