In an exercise which is bound to lead it to nowhere the Union Ministry of Agriculture and farmers’ Welfare has called a meeting on February 1st to deliberate on proposed amendments in the MSCS Act 2002. But alas, not a single cooperator has been invited!
The Ministry letter titled “Amendment of the Multi State Cooperative Societies Act 2002” reads -It is informed that the Amendment of the Multi State Cooperative Societies Act 2002 has been proposed and the draft bill has been prepared. This Department is of the view that consultation with the stakeholders is required. Therefore a meeting for discussing the proposed amendments is scheduled to be held at 1st February 2019 at 2.30 PM, Krishi Bhawan.
The question is who are the stake-holders-cooperative leaders or salaried managers working in a co-op organization to ensure their two ends meet?
Among 22 co-op organizations invited, the letter carefully omits the names of the elected heads and instead invites babus serving on salaries.
In the case of NCUI, leave aside the President, none of the Governing Council members who come from Kashmir to Kanyakumari have been invited. The invitation is addressed to the MD of NCUI which means Chief executive (the Ministry also displays a massive ignorance about the apex co-op body and does not seem to know that it is the CE and not the MD who is the executive head in NCUI)
Similarly, in NAFCUB, its President Jyotindra Mehta is not lucky enough to get an invitation from the ministry; its Chief Executive Subhas Gupta gets one. Besides Mehta, none of the top cooperators of Nafcub have been invited. It bears recall that Nafcub boasts of having venerable cooperators in its fold not only in the present but also in the past which include H K Patil, Suresh Prabhu, Ex-President Mrs Pratibha Patil among others.
While NAFSCOB Chairman Dileep Sanghani has been ignored, its MD Bhima Subramaniyam has been invited. Similarly in the case of NCCF Birender Singh has been left out. T Dora Prasad a well-known fisheries cooperator from Odisha and the Fishcopfed Chairman was ignored. The list is endless.
The only exception, perhaps is Sahakar Bharati where its President has been invited. “That may be partly because being a voluntary organization we do not have a paid karmachari (staff-member)”, quipped a top Sahakar Bharati leader while speaking to this correspondent.
Ideologically close to the present BJP govt, Sahakar Bharati has, however, never desisted from siding with cooperators when the situation warrants. It fought against the infringement of co-op rights on several issues including Banning Bill, Income Tax terrorism against co-ops, IT exemption, among others.
Talking to Indian Cooperative several cooperators argued that the co-operative movement is primarily people controlled and cooperators are peoples’ representatives and not the managers. “Those who do salaried jobs cannot argue and bat for members’ right in the meeting”, quipped a very senior cooperator.
“The choice of invitees shows the govt is reluctant to face cooperators who could raise issues inconvenient to them. “We interact with the people at grass-roots and we know their issues, leaving us out from the debate is undemocratic”, said a GC member of NCUI.
“I do not read much in this exercise as the meeting is taking place at a time when the nation has entered into an election mode. It surely would not be put in the budget session which is the last session of the NDA govt. There is no point giving any importance to it as it is an exercise in futility”, he quipped.