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Careers in Cooperatives

Career Corner
Ranjan K Baruah

A cooperative (also known as co-operative, co-op, or coop) is “an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social, and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly-owned and democratically-controlled enterprise”. Cooperatives may includenon-profit community organizations, businesses owned and managed by the people who use their services (a consumer cooperative), organisations managed by the people who work there (worker cooperatives), organisations managed by the people to whom they provide accommodation (housing cooperatives), hybrids such as worker cooperatives that are also consumer cooperatives or credit unions, multi-stakeholder cooperatives such as those that bring together civil society and local actors to deliver community needs, second- and third-tier cooperatives whose members are other cooperatives.
Research published by the World watch Institute found that in 2012 approximately one billion people in 96 countries had become members of at least one cooperative. One dictionary defines a cooperative as “a jointly owned enterprise engaging in the production or distribution of goods or the supplying of services, operated by its members for their mutual benefit, typically organized by consumers or farmers”. Cooperative businesses are typically more economically resilient than many other forms of enterprise; with twice the number of co-operatives (80%) surviving their first five years compared with other business ownership models (41%). Cooperatives frequently have social goals which they aim to accomplish by investing a proportion of trading profits back into their communities. As an example of this, in 2013, retail co-operatives in the UK invested 6.9% of their pre-tax profits in the communities in which they trade as compared with 2.4% for other rival supermarkets.
At a time when income inequality is rising around the world, it is good to be reminded that solutions to inequality do exist. The co-operative model is foremost among these solutions, since it contains aspects of sustainable development at its core and is based on ethical values and principles.Co-operatives’ open membership model affords access to wealth creation and poverty elimination. This result from the co-operative principle of members’ economic participation: ‘Members contribute equitably to, and democratically control, the capital of their co-operative.’ Because co-operatives are people-centred, not capital-centred, they do not perpetuate, nor accelerate capital concentration and they distribute wealth in a more fair way.
Co-operatives also foster external equality. As they are community-based, they are committed to the sustainable development of their communities – environmentally, socially and economically. This commitment can be seen in their support for community activities, local sourcing of supplies to benefit the local economy, and in decision-making that considers the impact on their communities.
Co-operatives have been acknowledged as associations and enterprises through which citizens can effectively improve their lives while contributing to the economic, social, cultural and political advancement of their community and nation. The co-operative movement has been also recognized as a distinct and major stakeholder in both national and international affairs.The earliest record of a co-operative comes from Fenwick, Scotland where, in March 14, 1761, in a barely furnished cottage local weavers manhandled a sack of oatmeal into John Walker’s whitewashed front room and began selling the contents at a discount, forming the Fenwick Weavers’ Society.
The process of managing and developing co-operative enterprises is considerably different from the management of corporate enterprises or family-owned businesses. To equip students with the right knowledge and tools to manage cooperatives, institutions teach a number of subjects to them, includingEnvironment for Cooperatives and Rural Development, Cooperative Credit & Banking, Cooperative Law, Management and Administration, Non-Credit Cooperatives, Cooperative Accounts and Audit, MIS & Computer Application – I, Cost Accounting and Financial Management, Marketing Management, Allied Laws, Organizational Behavior& Communication, Human Resource Management, Industrial Relations, Statistics, Research Methodology, Project Management, etc.
Students may take up courses like MBA in Cooperative management or other diploma and certificate courses. Specialisations may be workers cooperatives, consumer’s cooperative, etc. Students from any stream may join post graduate diploma or management courses. One may get jobs in agricultural cooperatives, cooperatives banks, housing cooperatives, etc. Aspirants may become consultant and start their own consultancy services.
The Assam Rajiv Gandhi University of Cooperative Management (ARGUCOM) is the first cooperative management university in the country established under the Assam Rajiv Gandhi University of Cooperative Management Act, 2010. ARGUCOM is under the recognition of UGC vide No. F.9-21/2011 (CPP-1/PU) dated Feb 27, 2012.The University, set up at Sivasagar in Upper Assam, is a teaching, residential university with the mission of education for widening knowledge and learning, training for enhancing skill and managerial capacity, research for searching innovative spheres and to make efforts for all round development of cooperative movement and rural economy.
ARGUCOM is a specialized university and as such its efforts are also innovative and result oriented. We emphasize on grass root learning of students and are not confined to bookish knowledge only. Ithas five Schools, which includeSchool of Entrepreneurship and Management, School of Innovation and Technology, School of Public Policy and Law, School of Culture and Media, School of Ecology and Sustenance.
The Vaikunth Mehta National Institute of Cooperative Management, Pune is a premier management institute for the cooperative sector. The Institute of Cooperative Management, Guwahati, is one of the nineteen Institutes of Cooperative Management in the country and functions under the overall administrative control of National Council for Cooperative Training (NCCT), New Delhi, being funded by Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India.

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NDA Examination: An Examination will be conducted by the Union Public ServiceCommission on 9th September, 2018 for admission to the Army, Navy and Air Force wings of the NDA for the 142ndCourse, and for the 104th Indian Naval AcademyCourse (INAC) commencing from 2ndJuly, 2019. The approximate number of vacancies to be filled on the results of this examination will be as under: – National Defence Academy: 339 (208 for Army, 39 for Navy and 92 for Air Force) Naval Academy: 44 (10+2 Cadet Entry Scheme) Total: 383. Last date for submitting online application is 2nd July.
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Ranjan K Baruah is a social activist and career mentor who has conducted career awareness programme in different parts of Assam and Northeast India and can be reached at bkranjan@gmail.com or 98640 55558 for any career related queries