When some people join hands to solve some common difficulty, they are said to be working in co-operation. It may be defined as that form of organization in which some people combine for some common economic purpose.
Co-Operative associations are formed voluntarily. A co-operative society works on some fundamental principles. First, members join it of their own sweet will. Secondly, all the members are treated as equals. Thirdly, co-operative societies work according to a democratic constitution. Fourthly, they are meant to bring members closer to each other. For these reasons, such societies are started in small localities so that all the members of a particular locality may know each other well. Lastly, co-operation teaches economy.
The scope of co-operation has become very wide in modern times. We find co-operative societies for nearly every purpose of life. To help the consumers, there are consumer’s co-operatives. In the field of agriculture, we have Agricultural Credit Societies. They help in financing the agriculturist. Marketing Co-operative Societies help the farmers in disposing off their crops in the Mandies. Tubewells have been constructed by irrigation co-operatives. In cities and industrial towns, we have housing co-operatives, in handloom and khadi industry, the weavers’ co-operatives are helping their members. Recently, a new type of co-operative society, known as the multipurpose co-operative society, has been started to re-organize the co-operative movement in India. As the name suggests, such co-operatives cater to more than one need of their members.
The advantages of co-operation are numerous. It eliminates the middle man. In this way it helps the farmers in getting credit at a low rate of interest. Moreover, the members work very economically as they know that the gain of the society will be their own gain. Apart from this, co-operation proves morally advantageous. Members have to be very honest and of high character. Dishonest persons, gamblers, drunkards, etc., are not allowed to be the members of a co-operative. So the members try keep themselves morally high. Besides this, co-operation has many educational and social advantages also. Thus, its advantages for a poor and backward country like India cannot be over-emphasized.
In spite of so many advantages, Co-operation has not made much headway in India. It has always faced difficulties. The illiteracy of the members is one of them. They fail to understand its basic principles. They do not take as much interest in the working of the societies as educated members. Not much attention has been paid towards the non-credit co-operative societies. This has left a large number of people out of the scope of co-operation. It cannot be successful without the active and voluntary work of the members. But in our country co-operation is governed by the Government. Besides, no proper and strict check has been kept on the accounts of co-operatives. This and many other drawbacks have been responsible for the slow growth of the movement.
Some suggestions may now be made for the rapid progress of the co-operative movement. In the first place, credit should be advanced only for productive purpose. Strict check should be kept, so that credit facilities are not misused for any other purpose except that for which the credit has been taken. Members should be educated so that they may understand the basic principles of co-operation. Multipurpose co-operatives should replace single purpose societies. This will help in promoting the movement.
Keeping in view the vast scope of co-operation and favorable conditions available in our country for it, every effort should be made to make the movement a success.