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COOPERATION: BOON OR BANE

Prof K Seshaiah, Dept of Commerce, S V University, Tirupathi, looks at the problems and potential of the forgotten sector, the cooperative sector

There is no other greater movement this world has witnessed during this century than the movement of cooperation. But the dilemma before us is whether it has brought boons or banes to mankind. Whether it is a sound principle to be practiced by a civilized man, refined with finer sentiments and spiritual outlook for a greater good to greater number of people in any society; or it is a survival strategy similar to any other territorial fight. Peripherally it may look like a great gospel preached by all apostles put together, but delving into it would enable people to realize that it is a territorial game and strategy having limited scope for development with more side effects. At the outset it may appear to be based on the principle of All for Each and Each for All. But in operation, its nature, meaning and scope are limited to a group of people segregated from the society. Of course the origin of the principle of cooperation can be traced back to the institutional behavior of exploring the possibility of protecting self-interest with territorial outlook and a socially learned reaction of the groups in serving the cause of acquiring, protecting and retaining their own territories from the encroachment and exploitation by others. It can never be attributed to the principle of Live and Let Live. It is a social conditioning in which one group is formed through segregation from the rest, to counteract and overpower the activities of another group in the name of self help. To help ourselves we cooperate with our group and simultaneously non-cooperate with others. The strength of cooperation thus is the outcome of the desire for non cooperation as cooperation is the opposite of noncooperation.

Cooperation in Practice Even the great theory and practice of cooperation could not elevate the status of customers, who had to stand in long queues for their essential and other commodities, to Customer is God and Customer is Sovereign. In fact, the cooperative mechanism has paved the way for the exploitation of consumers in all forms and degrees. The underlying spirit of cooperative mechanism has paved the way for exploitation of consumers in all forms and degrees. The underlying spirit of cooperation is socialism through which exploitation is to be eliminated and equity and justice are to be restored. Through cooperation, very many benefits were hoped at the production and distribution levels. It was expected that products of high quality with reasonable prices in required quantities would reach their customers without the menace of middlemen. And the profits accrued in cooperatives through self help and sacrifice in members would be used for the common good. But, it was unfortunate that a majority of the members could not derive many of the expected advantages. Besides, a lot of damage has been done to the economic system as a whole and entrepreneurial development in specific. Had the cooperation system not been introduced, majority of the heads of cooperatives would have directed their energies to become entrepreneurs. Contrarily, the cooperation system has provided an opportunity to become the managers and chiefs of cooperatives, and enjoy the status of entrepreneurs without making any investment and bearing nay risk. When we assess the cooperative system from the viewpoint of economic development- market structure, employment creation, capital generation, worker efficiency, organizational effectiveness, productivity, innovation, creativity, entrepreneurial development, private sector failure, public sector emergence, resource allocation, and a host of other related aspects-

cooperation has impeded economic development in many ways. Even performance in industrial relations is poor in the cooperative sector as there is more non-cooperation than cooperation, between management and the employees. It is sad that neither growth nor equity could find any place in the cooperatives. Industrialism vs. Collectivism Human beings are unequal, individuality is instinctual. Man cannot escape from the weaknesses of identification and recognition. He rarely accepts collectivism as there is a derecognition of individualism. It is in crisis, that collectivism appears on the scene. This instinct of non-cooperation is predominant in every human being due to its craving for uniqueness. Thus the cooperative spirit in cooperative movement can fulfill neither instinctual forces nor learned behavioral urges. On the other hand, non- cooperation satisfies the ego and esteem of the individuals and also the instinct of revenge. The cooperative mechanism can never satisfy the higher level needs of the hierarchy, viz. self esteem and self actualization. As such, cooperation has become an instrument in the hands of the under privileged, exploited and oppressed classes of the society for the redressal of their grievances. It is the practice and struggle of the mass society and not the philosophy of the advanced society. In brief, the cooperative system has paralyzed the growth of societies, killed the innovative spirit and creativity of the people, curbed the self and the entrepreneurial development and perpetuated poverty due to low levels of productivity and capital and employment generation. Cooperation vs. Competition The principle of Cooperation has failed to compete with the principle of competition which has been dominating the world since the Industrial revolution. Nobel prizes were never awarded for the great works on cooperatives, but for the game theories in the field of economics it is common. The competitive spirit

accompanied by pomp, ego and aggrandizement has converted the economics into economics resulting in the widening of the gap between the preaching of cooperation and practice of competition. In fact there is more inter and intra competition in cooperatives. As a result, the world is undergoing through a process of waging the territorial wars among different groups of society in general and industry in particular. These groups include the managers, owners, unions, employees, customers, politicians, technocrats, and religious chiefs who are employing both the weapons of cooperation and competition through the games of power and politics. Conclusion The Human mind has not yet evolved in its full measure, to cooperate, for the fulfillment of objectives of sharing the purpose, work, wealth, knowledge, joy, sorrow and love. Human nature is such that people cooperate in violent activities and less in nonviolent pursuits. In other words people cooperate better when self interest is involved. They cooperate in full measure when they want to take revenge. In India people exhibit cooperative spirit in antagonistic and hostile situations rather than friendly and peaceful circumstances. Then, do we have to believe the cooperation, both in theory and practice, finds a place in modern competitive world?