ABC Always Better Cooperatives
Haridas Thakur :
It is merely ninety-four years have passed, but the utterance about the co-operative movement is still applicable for the present time. "We will not measure the success of the Movement by the number of cooperative societies formed, but by the moral condition of the cooperators," says Mahatma Gandhi in 1917. In Bangladesh, we have near about 1,75,000 co-operative societies among which maximum (with some examples of glorious success) are inactive/failure. We have had a very unpleasant experience with the inactive/failure co-operative societies which, as a total heavy burden, is creating abysmal abyss of sorrows and plagues, not only for the Department of Co-operatives but also for the all round development of the Co-operative Movement of our country. Now it is high time to ponder over the matter seriously. Let us think about a concept- ABC (Always Better Co-operatives). But what is ABC and how this concept can be materialized for our Co-operative Societies?
ABC is not a new/fundamental concept. It is the newly innovated idea of the writer from the practical Field experience in different distressed class people/co-operators of Bangladesh who have changed their life standard and socio-economic condition positively with the magic lamp of Co-operative Movement. Much have been told or talked about co-operation and co-operatives .But in our country, we are not capable to do the real things to make the co-operative societies successful/stable. The so called ISD (Imposed-Subsidized- Dictated) co-operative societies (which are patronized, backed institutionally and funded by the government or donor agencies), are inactive/failure/unstable in most cases. But the self motivated and organized Co-operative Societies which are not patronized and funded by the government at all are successful and playing vital roles for the socio-economic development of the locality as a whole for the country. This makes the basic difference between newly self motivated and organized co-operative societies and the so called patronized Co-Operative Societies. And here evolves the ABC Concept.
ICA-Co-operative Identity Statement (ICIS) defined co-operative as "A co-operative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to met their common goal economic, social and cultural need and aspiration through jointly-owned and democratically controlled enterprise"; and also concerned with application of Seven Principles. These are: i) voluntary and open membership, ii) democratic control, iii) members economical participation, iv) autonomy and independence, v) education, training and information vi) cooperation among cooperative, and vii) concern for community.
According to the Co-operative Societies Act, 2001 (Amended upto 2002) `` A co-operative society is a body corporate which is legally registered by the competent authority, controlled and governed by democratic rules and regulations and works for the socio-economic development of the members.''. From the above definitions, we can easily say that a co-operative society is not an ordinary organization. Rather it is such a pro-people and pro-development socio-economic organization that contains-(a) Combined workforces; (b) Democratic Norms and Values. (c) Economic participation; (d) Economic development of the members, and (e) Social development of the members
In co-operative philosophy, we can easily and effectively say that `` All are same, great or small-All for each and each for all.'
The main objective of ABC concept is to make a Cooperative Society as an ideal organization. To be an ideal co-operative society, the following component is the essential pre-requisites: (1) Institutionalization of the society; (2) Management Efficiency; (3) Ethical standards; (4) Members' consciousness.
Institutionalization of a cooperative society is a very vital component. It is important for not only the sustainability but also for the smooth running of the organization. Institutionalization of a Cooperative Society includes the following- (1) Permanent assets ( Land etc.); (2) Own infrastructure ( Building etc); (3) Own office in own land; (4) Efficient management; (5) Efficient staffs; (6) Service rule of the Society's staff; (7) Conscious members and their unity; (8) Goodwill of the society; (9) Approved Activities from Authority; (11) Continuous Member Development and Staff Development Program.
It is said that efficient management is the key to success of a co-operative society. It is because that management does the executive works and here efficiency is a must to achieve the target or goal of the society. Management unites the members and coordinates between society and members. The aspirations and future plan of the society/members are implemented through the management. An efficient management knows well the pulse of the society and the dream of the members and they works accordingly. For fulfilling purpose,
According to the section 16(1) of the Co-operative Societies Act, 2001 (Amended up to 2002) AGM of Co-Operative society is the supreme authority abiding the Act, Rules and Bye-Laws. Here lies the importance of the quality and consciousness of the members. It is said that if the members of the societies are conscious and capable to bring the managing committee under accountability, the society must run well and becomes economically stable and functionally sound. To make a society successful and established it as a model organization
According to ABC concept, an IDEAL CO-OPERATIVE society is that Society which presents its member of a certain locality, a total and enjoyable life standard by providing them all round development in their fundamental, human, economical, social, cultural etc. rites. A successful/Ideal Co-operative society can provide for its members the following things:(a) Economic Solvency; (b) Employment/Self Employment; (c) Poverty reduction; (d) Social Status; (e) Peace in Family life; (f) Respect from others; (g) Mental/Self satisfaction; (h) State Recognition; (i) Love from everybody/members; (j) Help in distress situations etc.
Co-operative is the root of Unity and Unity is the sign of Strength, Prosperity, Equality and Social Integrity. And ABC will help us materialising this motto. ``ABC tries to define goals and standards of the organization ensuring effective management and other structures that will enable to achieve its goals and standards. A co-operative society has the following unique characteristics that can help ABC concept to be more active and successful: (1) co-operative maintains high ethical standards; (b) co-operative has strong systems of accountability to its members; (c) co-operative has proper systems to ensure effective operations; (d) Members work together to achieve common democratically agreed objectives.''
``From the view of the above standards, the following points seem to be inevitable to improve performance of co-operative management by the grace of ABC concept: (1) The management should have a good knowledge of cooperative laws, cooperative rules, and regulations. (2) The management should have a good knowledge of the by-laws of the Cooperative and its aims and objectives. (3) The management should have a proper office system. (4) The Managing Committee should prepare and follow proper job descriptions for all functionaries and employees of the cooperative. (5) Proper maintenance of books of the cooperative e.g., Notice book, Regulation book, Accounts, , Members' Register, Bank Documents. Loan Registers, Cash Book etc.(6) Operating all the accounts through the bank only. (7) Proper control of the assets and liabilities of the cooperative. (8)Regular stocktaking, inventory control, and contacts with all business units ensuring a full, accurate, and honest reporting. (9) Preparing and maintaining a schedule of loan repayments. (10) Maintaining a cordial dialogue with the Manager/Executive and all other employees of the cooperative. (11) Follow-up the recommendations/remarks/suggestions made in the Audit Report. (12) Regular information of General Meetings and the Managing Committee Meetings in time by required notice and agenda to the members ahead giving adequate time. (Also successful conduct of those meetings.) (13) Identifying training needs and ensure training to the concerned people. (14) Proper relationship between the employees and the management; between the members and the management. ''
The etymology of the word "Cooperative" derived from the Latin word 'COOPERARI' where 'co' means 'with' and 'operari' means 'to work'. Thus the word "COOPERARI" means "working together." When there will be cordial togetherness among the members of the cooperatives, we will find the essence of development and certainly we will utter proudly that A Cooperative Society is the organization of the cooperators, for the cooperators and by the cooperators.
(Haridas Thakur, Researcher and Thinker, Joint Registrar of the Department of Cooperatives, Vice Principal of Bangladesh Cooperative Academy)