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Role Of Public Relations & Communication In Cooperatives
by  
Bhagwati Prasad

Chief Executive

National Cooperative Union of India ,

New Delhi – 110 016

e-mail : bhagwatiprasad47@hotmail.com
 
Introduction:
The cooperatives has been recognised as the preferred instruments of socio-economic development in India .
The main thrust area of our economic planning has been focused on to increase the agriculture production and ensure rural employment.

The Cooperatives play a significant role in providing agricultural credit, marketing, procurement, agro-processing for value additions and accelerating the growth of rural employment through organising fishery, labour housing, health, weavers & industrial coops.

The agriculture and their allied activities are considered as the back bone of the rural economy and contributes nearly 23% in our GDP.
In the wake of liberalised economic policy and declining role of public sector, the role of cooperatives assumes higher responsibility in generating rural employment.
Various task force has also reviewed the role of cooperatives and proposed that it must be given more autonomy and independence in their functioning.

Indian Cooperative Network

The Indian Cooperative Movement is considered the largest in the world. It is a century old movement which have grown in size and volume of the business. Besides it has diversified their activities entering into every walks of life i.e. agriculture, horticulture, credit and banking, housing, agro-industries, rural electrification, dairy, consumers, tribals, agri-business, weavers, HRD and information technology.

Main Highlights and their contributions :

  1. Number of cooperatives : 5,49,119
  2. Membership : 23 crores
  3. Rural network : 100%
Building up the image of cooperative sector by highlighting its achievements and success stories
Advocating the relevance of cooperatives by emphasising on its values and principles so that it is accepted by the people as the vehicle of their socio-economic development.
Highlighting the advantages of cooperatives as compared to other organisations for redressal of the problems of people through self-help and mutual help.  
Building up positive opinion in favour of cooperatives in the wake of negative propaganda by the press and other interested groups.
Making efforts for creating enabling environment for generating proper awareness in the masses about the benefits of cooperatives.
Although the cooperative sector has made immense progress in the recent years, but PR in the cooperative sector still to be developed on professional lines. The image building in the cooperative sector has not achieved much success. The people's perception about the cooperatives is generally not positive. Following are the main factors hindering the professional growth of PR in the cooperatives.
Inadequate budgetary support for PR activities due to resource crunch with few exceptions like IFFCO, KRIBHCO, NAFED, AMUL etc. which are financially well off.

Lack of proper HRD planning in assessing the manpower requirements of PR activities according to the need of the organisation.

National Committee for PR in Cooperative Sector

Despite the fact that cooperative sector is growing rapidly, there is no systematic effort to examine the PR policies in the cooperative sector. Although the PR conferences in the cooperative sector have been held from time to time but no attempt have been made to understand the dynamics of PR functioning in the various segments of the cooperative sector from close angles. The setting up of National Committee for PR in the cooperative sector has been a timely initiative for building up strong PR in the cooperative sector. The National Committee for PR in the cooperative sector has played an important role in deliberating the various issues confronted by the cooperative sector. A summary of the far-reaching recommendations is as follows :
Cooperative organistions at all level should formulate both short term and long term PR policies which should address the internal and external stake holders. Cooperatives should institute appropriate award for the best performing institutions/individuals/electronic and print media in the area of a) creation of awareness of cooperatives; b) dissemination of knowledge about cooperatives; c) spread of achievements of cooperatives; d) image building efforts of cooperatives; e) coverage of success stories of cooperatives.

NCUI with PRSI may suggest a model structure of staffing pattern for setting up a PR department in cooperative organisations.  
Apex cooperative organisations through strong PR advocacy need to give utmost importance to international relations.
NCUI may take initiatives to impart training of trainers to help to enhance PR activities in cooperatives at various levels.
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