Importance of Dialogue / Need for village cooperatives

The Honorable Governor Gopalkrishna Gandhi’s speech at the Indian Chamber of Commerce on 24 September, 2008 has reasons for celebration and appreciation for the Rationalists’ Association and HA. The house magazine “YUKTIBADI” of the rationalists and the humanists has been highlighting the need for a cooperative movement in rural India as the need of the hour since 2001. Under the leadership of Prabir Ghosh the concept of cooperative movement and rural self-governance have been spreading all over India, Nepal and beyond in the last decade.

During his address at the second Green Revolution Summit organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce, the governor pointed out that – “the way in which agriculture and industry are juxtaposed is not right. … the first imperative was that of a dialogue, not when a crisis hangs overhead, but well in advance.”

The comments are significant as they come after the government and the opposition began a dialogue at Mr. Gandhi’s initiative, two and a half years after the agitation over farmland acquisition in Singur. Land is not only limited, but precious to the farmers. They cannot be bought and sold like shares. “We will have to think carefully on the location of industrial ventures, not turning to arable land before exhausting other options” – he continued, “land is not an impersonal, dematerialised share certificate you buy and sell with every swing of the sensex. We have to be sensitive to the responses of those who lose land and livelihood to projects. Empirical evidence has shown that options other than compulsory acquisition are possible.”

He cited examples of Maharashtra and Gujarat where farmers themselves formed cooperatives to build up SEZ and industrial complexes.

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