The Co-operative moment, according to historians, began during 19th century in UK, US and other countries. Robert Owen (1771–1858) is considered as the father of the cooperative movement. In 1844 the Rochdale Pioneers founded the modern Cooperative Movement in Lancashire, England, to provide an affordable alternative to poor-quality and adulterated food and provisions, using any surplus to benefit the community. A group of weavers and skilled workers in other trades formed a cooperative society. They created business principles to guide their work and established a shop to sell their goods.
The Rochdale Pioneers started co-operative consumer societies. The British govt in India established an Agricultural Credit Department in the Reserve Bank of India in 1935, and it made substantial progress in the field of cooperation.
Co-operative movement in Karnataka
Gadag in Karnataka is famous for Sri Narayana Temple built during the Chalukyan Empire. There is another temple of Sharanabasweshwara. Kanaginahal is a village in the Gadag district. The first co-operative society of India was registered in 1905 at Kanaginahal village. The first co-operative movement in Asia was stated at Kanaginahal under the leadership of Sri Siddanagouda Sanna Ramanagouda Patil (1843–1933), who is known as the ‘Father of Cooperative movement in Karnataka’. The Agricultural Credit Cooperative Society of Kanaginahal was launched in Kanaginahal on 8.7. 1905. It was the first of its kind in Asia.
The Co-operative movement in old princely state of Mysore had concern for the community. It was/is basically a peoples` movement that was initially launched by the government of India in 1904 and later by the provincial governments. The special features of co-operative movement in old Mysore was that even prior to the movement of 1894, then model Mysore had promoted rural-oriented Agricultural Banks, which were the associations of the small land holders, on the principles of limited guarantee. The principles of both co operative and joint stock companies had imbibed in their rules. The co operatives adopted, in their rules, a modus operandi in lending rates and other services, which were far below than the rates outside. The Mysore Co-operative Societies Regulation, 1905 was more progressive and comprehensive when compared to the all India Act of 1904, The Mysore Act contained a provision for establishing non agricultural non credit co-operatives as founded in 1912 in other parts of the country. Thus Karnataka has played an important role in the implementation, development and research in the field of co operation in the country.
Cooperative movement in India
The principle of cooperation was in practice in India long before, the so-called cooperative movement that began with the application of cooperative principles to business organization in western countries. A student of Indian sociology knows that in ancient rural India people used to co operate with each other for mutual benefit and that is the basis for the modern co operative movement.
Asian societies have adapted the co-operative principles that were successful in the world. The International Labour Organization was originally established in 1919. It had a Co-operative Division. In 2016, UNESCO inscribed "Idea and practice of organizing shared interests in cooperatives" on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage.
The cooperative movement in India may be looked into in two stages namely in pre-Independence era and in post-Independence era. During the period of British the farmers of Poona organised an agitation against the money lenders for charging exorbitant rates of interest. Then British government brought into force certain legislations in the name of the Deccan Agriculture Relief Act, 1879, the Land Improvement Loan Act, 1883, the Agriculturists Loan Act,1884 and the Cooperative Credit Societies Act, 1904.
In 1904, Cooperative Credit Societies Act was enacted. This act gave the forward motion to the Cooperative Movement in India. Soon thereafter India's first “urban cooperative credit society” was registered in Kanjivaram in the Madras Presidency in October, 1904. Anyonya Co-operative Bank Limited (ACBL) located in the city of Vadodara (formerly Baroda) in Gujarat, which was the first co-operative bank in India. The Reserve Bank of India directed the bank to stop most of its operations under Section 35 of the Banking Regulation Act, on 14.9. 2007, consequently ACBL closed its business in March 2008.
In 1919, cooperation was made a provincial subject and the provinces were authorised to make their own cooperative laws under the Montague-Chelmsford Reforms. This categorization carried in the Government of India Act, 1935. In 1942, Government of British India enacted the Multi-Unit Cooperative Societies Act to cover Cooperative Societies with membership from more than one province.
It was expected that with the Cooperative movement with cooperation it would make the basic activity of India, in every village as well as elsewhere. The whole future of India was hoped to depend on the success of movement. After independence cooperatives became an integral part of Five-Year Plans.
Mahatma Gandhi on Coops
Mahatma Gandhiji was deeply moved on observing the pathetic living condition and environments of rural folk, who massively contributed for the food needs of the urban residents inspite of their extreme poverty. He thought unless the living condition of the villagers improved independence for the nation would become meaningless. He promoted ‘Gram swaraj’ to bring changes in social and economic conditions by co operative organisations. He stressed on cooperative institutions as the way for improvising the economic situation of villages. It would create or generate employment opportunity and increase the income of individuals as well as of society. It will prevent rural migration to cities seeking employment. In order to promote cooperative spirit and make people realise its benefits, he stressed upon creating cooperatives for cottage and other industries and panchayats to encourage unemployed youths to organize cooperatives. Bapuji had given great emphasis on cooperative farming. His love toward cooperatives is expressed in his articles published in his paper Harijan during 1942.
Nehru on cooperatives
Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru regarded cooperative methods not only for the development of life as a whole but also to economic field. Nehru said "As civilization advances and society becomes more and more complex, the element of cooperation is lacking, then all the training that we have is useless because it is frittered away in some measures of conflict."
Vallabhbhai Patel was a remarkable Iron man of India. He paid a price for his abrasive style and no-nonsense approach to work. He had an ideology and a vision of society through which he saw the world around him. He fought for the ideology and strove to create institutes - like the well-known Lodhika Co-operative - that strove to establish his ideals.
Co-operatives and grassroots democracy on the ground occupied a large part of the canvas of the Vallabhbhai world view. It was to these that he devoted the bulk of his working life. As a qualified lawyer he could have easily built himself a lucrative legal practice if he had so wished. But he decided, instead, to study co-operation under the guidance of Vajubhai Shah, a veteran of Gujarat's co-operative movement. When he completed his studies, Vajubhai advised him, “What will you do as a lawyer? Instead, study the laws of co-operation and provide the advantage of your knowledge to farmers and to the public at large. Give a boost to co-operative activities". This became the mission of Vallabhbhai life. As someone who has been closely involved in Gujarat's co-operative movement. I can very confidently say that Vallabhbhai fulfilled this mission more than any man can do in a single lifetime. Gujarat has produced co-operative leaders of the stature of Shri Vaikunthlal Mehta. Vallabhbhai Patel certainly belonged to that class of leaders who put the interests of the society above their own.
India has the largest co-operative movement in the world. Over 10 crore farmers are members of one co-operative or another. If we consider the fact that creating institutional structures responsive to people is the most powerful vehicle for transforming traditional societies, this vast network of co-operatives could have become the foundation for building a strong and modern rural India.