Strengthening the Cooperative movement through ICT

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p13Madhukar Chaudhari, Commissioner for Co-operation & Registrar, Government of Maharashtra, talks about the ways in which ICT is helping in strengthening the cooperative movement in the state. In conversation with Nikita Apraj, ENN

Please give us a brief overview of job of Commissioner for Co-operation & Registrar.
CC & RCS plays an important role in an agro-industrial economy and particularly so in the sphere of rural credit. The activities of the office of the CC & RCS, which is under the Department of Cooperation, Marketing and Textiles, Government of Maharashtra, are associated with the rural finance and Primary Agricultural Cooperative societies, Banking including District Central Cooperative Banks, urban Cooperative Banks, Industrial Cooperatives, and also Housing Societies which are governed under the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act 1960 and Rules 1961. The CC & RCS is entrusted with the administration of the Maharashtra Cooperative Societies Act, 1960; and enforcement of the Bombay Money- Lenders Act, 1946 and the Bombay Warehousing Act, 1959 and the Rules made there under. Cooperation is an activity of the people. It is a self-generated, voluntary, self-sufficient activity. The objectives and regulatory functionsof the Commissioner are to undertake all the functions related to the administration ofthe MCS Act 1960 & Rules 1961 – includingRegistration of Cooperatives, Supervision of Cooperatives, Statutory Audit, Inspection ofCooperatives, Amendment of Byelaws, andElections of Cooperatives.

He has to undertake all the developmental functions to nurture theCooperatives including the implementation of: (a) the Govt. Schemes for assistance, e.g. providing to the Cooperatives he governmentshare capital, the government loan, the government subsidy, and the government guarantee, as per the prescribed beneficiary selection criteria, (b) the Capacity Building Programmes for members and other stakeholders. Maharashtra is one of the major States in India where cooperative movement is widespread and has a long history. Cooperation plays an important role in the economy of Maharashtra. There are more than 2.25 lakh cooperative societies in Maharashtra. Registrar eing a friend, philosopher and guide of cooperatives has to perform various tasks and monitor whole cooperative movement.

What kind of challenges do you face in managing Commissionerate for Co-operation & Registrar?
With the huge setup of 2.25 lakh cooperatives across Maharashtra, and also employees nearing ten thousand and still growing, the queries and issues need to be addressed while performing the Regulatory role. With large variations across different kinds of cooperatives and its spread across the State with varied climatic and geographic conditions, the problems and its optimum  esolution needs to be worked upon very closely conducting regular assessment and performance reviews of societies.

What IT and Communication tools have you leveraged to address these challenges?
The official website of the Commissionerate is LIVE and has recorded over 1.71 lakh hits during past 3 months. All communications pertaining to citizens are published on the website.For Quicker communication we have started SMS service wherein we update all our official information docment regarding any important/urgent/crucial communication that comes from higher authorities. The same is being extended tocooperative societies. We have also encouraged the use of Unicode to carry out communications in local language in order to reach citizens in even the remote parts of the state. People from various spheres need to have easy access to financial status of various types of Societies,Banks and therefore we have compiled huge data in this connection, of all such societies which will certainly prove useful to the citizens

“We have encouraged the use of Unicode to carry out communications in local language in order to reach citizens in even the remote parts of the state”

In your opinion how is ICT helping the Commissionerate in delivering services to the people in a more efficient manner?
Communication to citizens and other bonafide stakeholders has become easier and quicker with the web-portal. Using various analytical tools has boosted decision making and trend analysis. All our officers are connected through individual logins on the website. This web space provides a platform for our officers to share crucial data within acceptable time frames. Interactive web based module has been introduced to citizen to pose their queries and suggestions. This feedback is proving fruitful

“CSIS will enable us in trend analysis and forecasting the various actions required while monitoring the cooperatives and performing the regulatory role effectively”

Tell us about the capacity building programmes that you have undertaken to ensure that the department is ableto use ICT in a productive and efficient way.
Regular trainings are imparted to staff across Department of Cooperation. These trainings extensively include use of Marathi Language for Communication in Unicode for the communication to reach the remote areas of this state. Various other initiatives include imparting trainings to staff across the state in a phased manner for optimum use of in-built functions of MS-Office in day-to-day activities, use of available official infrastructure provided by State Data Centre to establish GoM and Cooperation as a Brand.

What is your roadmap for diffusion of IT in the Commissionerate for Co-operation & Registrar?
We are currently working on the Cooperative Society Information System in a phased manner which will help us in having a thorough
view of all the Cooperative Societies as per the ideal parameters laid by apex committees. This will be a complete MIS module
that will be made available to the citizens for knowing more about a particular cooperative society and help them take a sound decision to safeguard their interest. CSIS will enable us in trend analysis and forecasting the various actions required while monitoring the cooperatives and performing the regulatory role effectively. Society Login Space is created and implemented. Auditor list is available on the Commissioner’s Website and is regularly updated. Here the societies can choose from the available auditors and perform the mandatory audit on yearly basis on the laid principles. Many such operational modules are planned to help the cooperatives in performing their desired tasks easily. We are also moving towards e-Office, wherein majority of the activities performed in the Commissionerate will become online and quicker sharing of files and best practices will be possible. Conducting examination of “Government Diploma in Cooperation & Accountancy” is planned to go online and applicants from all parts of the state will be able to apply for the same from their hometowns through various Citizen Service Centers under the Setu Samiti  everaging the common infrastructure laid down by Government of Maharashtra. Use  of Social Media for interacting with the citizens is also on the prime agenda. It includes introducing an official Facebook page of Sahakar Ayukta shortly.

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