Growth for all
Kashmir has surprised many experts the way it has managed to survive and even grow over the past three decades primarily because of the turbulent times and post covid-19 pandemic.
Some sectors of the economy that have really held it high and helped it maintain the growth trajectory include the horticulture, agriculture and handicrafts. These sectors have witnessed growth and bulge but the benefits of the expansion have remained confined to a limited section of the people who are involved in its trade, produce and manufacturing.
Keeping in view the flow of benefits to the lowest level the government should plan a massive co-operative movement so that the benefit could percolate down to the lowest level and ensure that no major loses are suffered by the people involved in these sectors.
One such step that could have done wonders is the setting up of vibrant co-operatives. Co-operatives can have far reaching impact as they can provide answers to specific needs of underdeveloped areas like that of Kashmir. But the co-operative movement needs support from the development community to reach its potential.
There is strength in numbers and the co-op movement’s founding principles can benefit developmental work. The success of co-op movement in many parts of the globe remind us that co-operatives are much more than our local shop, or a troubled bank.
Co-operatives are a dynamic people centered business model operating successfully in more than 100 countries. Co-operatives come in all shapes and sizes and all sectors of the economy.
In developing countries 75% of fair trade products are from farmers’ co-operatives. In the 1950s and 60s, co-operatives, particularly in Africa, were seen as major players in development, loaded down with expectations, as well as government interference. As a result, many failed, and co-operatives were written off by most development agencies.
In recent decades, co-operatives have made a comeback. We know that co-operatives can and do make major contributions to millennium development goals. They can generate income for their members and also offer a range of benefits – depending on why they are set up.
The role of co-op movement getting secured recognition forced the world body, United Nations to announce 2016 as the year of UN International Year of Co-operatives. The UN’s Food and Agricultural Organisation sees co-operatives as key to feeding the world; the International Labour Organisation as a way of organising in the informal economy.
However, the co-op movement has not been able to make its presence felt so deep in Jammu and Kashmir.
The co-operative movement can be a game changer buut so far the movement has not made the strides it could have achieved so far. However, with a renewed planning and thrust the co-operatives can be revived with success and involvement of the people. For this the ground level public representative bodies like Development Councils and Panchayats can also play a key role.