Social contract for prosperity – the cooperative path

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Pargaon Salu Malu Cooperative Credit Society (PSMCCS) of Daund tehsil, Pune District, Maharashtra is a 104-year-old cooperative society with a strong social network that has remained resilient and contextual. Anchored in the needs of its members, this cooperative society has met the demands of its members from the rent plow in 1944 to the supply of nanofertilizers and organic algae growth promoter in 2021 to its members.

Cooperative behavior occurs when individuals interacting in a social network gain some benefit from a mutually beneficial relationship. Social networks are not fixed and they evolve over time. In fact, they change as members become more cooperative. Dattatray Shitole (Secretary, PSMCCS) said that “in our company we are focused on increasing our own productivity, quality of service, membership and capital base, and reducing costs”.

Social contract and networks

The classic social contract theory proposed by Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau examined the relationship between community growth and development, individual human rights, intergroup contact, communities involving human interaction, priority goals, and interdependence. as essential factors in the development of cooperative alliances and related benefits. .

The social contract is a symmetry of give and take between those in power and the rest of society. The Seven Principles of Cooperatives reflect the ethics of social and community contracts rooted in rural development through deeply rooted values ​​of equity, self-help, equality and economic prosperity through cooperation.

The recent call for prosperity by cooperatives aims to find new solutions to pressing social needs through “bottom-up strategic initiatives with local roots” which focus on improving social relations through solidarity, reciprocity, shared values ​​and association. History has shown how peasant movements led by the collective community in the 19th century brought about reforms in taxation and land income, how cooperatives weathered the Bengal famine crisis of 1943 and the recent Covid pandemic. 19 where cooperatives emerged as the key community. actors and facilitators.

Challenges

Cooperatives today face the challenge of building and maintaining their competitive advantages in a globalized economy. To be effective and successful, a cooperative federation must continually achieve two interrelated objectives (i) strengthen the autonomy of its affiliates but maintain social networks and improve the capacity to serve its members (ii) remain an economically viable, innovative and competitive business without compromising on profit sharing.

Cooperatives face the great challenge of using the latest technology-based communication system not only to communicate with their members and external stakeholders, but also to improve their governance system to make it autonomous and self-sufficient, but also to use it to improve their business. as well as a role of advocacy, autonomy and promotion in order to be competitive in the market economy.

From competition to cooperation

Social innovation in cooperatives is necessary to meet the challenges. They will work through a variety of organizational architectures to enable change. A new form of social contract must be implemented in this 21st century, especially post-Covid. We can think of organizations as part of a spectrum: at one end of the spectrum are cooperative entities that meet vital social and environmental needs through traditional approaches, relying on membership as the primary source of support. funding. On the other end of the spectrum are for-profit businesses that serve customer needs through market-based mechanisms: selling the product or service for what the market will support.

Many for-profit companies incorporate sustainability and socially responsible practices into their operations and culture, but their primary focus is still on the bottom line. These are the cooperatives that seek to collectively satisfy insufficiently satisfied human needs.

Cooperatives can bring prosperity through various business models of innovative strategies as the world shifts from competition to cooperation and cooperatives are said to be the best business models to achieve sustainable development goals.

The National Co-op Week celebrations based on the main theme and sub-themes from November 14 to 21 will lay a good foundation for the growth of the co-operative movement. The celebrations of each day of the Cooperative Week cover the thematic areas through the organization of events / seminars / workshops / conferences Painting competition and with the participation of young people in large numbers as well as the exhibition of products under the brand Cooperatives.

Co-operatives are more than just a legal structure based on values ​​and principles rather than the ownership model which is essential for understanding co-operatives. We must review the principles of cooperatives. The principle such as “economic participation of members” and “cooperation among cooperatives” takes on greater importance in the development of social and economic transformation.

Week-long activities to promote cooperatives and raise awareness will go a long way in strengthening cooperatives.

(Yadav is director and Paliwal is teacher, VAMNICOM, Pune)

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