Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Sunday the cooperative model is a viable economic alternative to the capitalist and socialist models.
He hailed India’s first home minister Vallabhbhai Patel, who was also founder of the Amul dairy cooperative movement in Gujarat, as the leader who showed people the importance of the cooperative movement as an economic model.
“It fills me with pride that it is the result of farmers’ cooperative movement of over seven decades that Amul has become an identify, inspiration and necessity in the country,” Modi said.
Terming it a huge achievement, he said it is not just an industry or a milk processing plant, but is also “an alternative economic model”.
On one hand, there is the socialist economic model, and on the other is the capitalistic model. The world has been inspired by these two models, he said.
“Sardar saheb sowed the seed for a third economic model — controlled neither by government nor capitalists. Instead, it was created with the cooperation of farmers and people and everybody was a part of it. This is one viable alternative to socialism and capitalism,” Modi said.
He was speaking after inaugurating and laying the foundation stone of various projects here in Gujarat.
The prime minister said everyone knew that Amul was conceived nearly a year before Independence, but the cooperative movements started much before it.
“Few would know that when Sardar Patel became chairman of the then Ahmedabad Municipality, for the first time in Gujarat, the concept of urban development planning was introduced,” he said.
It was then that Sardar Patel did the first experiment of creating a cooperative housing society to provide houses to people from the middle income group, Modi said.
One Pritam Rai Desai was asked to initiate work on the project, he said, adding under Sardar Patel’s leadership and guidance, the first housing society was formed in the country in Ahmedabad.
“Sardar saheb inaugurated it on January 28, 1927 and said it was a new model of development. Since he wanted people to remember this, the place was named Pritam Nagar (after Pritam Rai Desai),” he told the gathering.
Modi said when he was the chief minister of Gujarat, he had advocated the use of camel milk because of its nutritional benefits, but he was mocked for it.
“I said camel milk is very nutritious. Being the chief minister, I don’t know what crime I committed, but I was mocked and cartoons and derogatory comments were made. Today, Amul’s chocolates have a huge market and the rate of camel milk is double than that of cow milk,” he said.
He called upon Amul to set a target of making India the third largest milk processor in the world from its current ranking of 10th, by the time it completes 75 years of its existence.
Modi said value addition to agricultural products is an answer to the farmers’ problem of crop abundance that causes a decline in the crop price.
“We have to give emphasis on value addition to agricultural products, and we are working in that direction. Like milk processing, we have to go in big way for food processing,” he said.
Modi said it was because of leaders of the cooperative movement that farmers in Gujarat could tide over the situation of scarcity they faced every now and then.
He also attacked the previous Congress government in the state for “creating hurdles” in setting up cooperatives, especially in the Kutch-Saurashtra region.
The situation has changed today, he said, with milk cooperatives functioning in every district creating a huge opportunity for farmers.
Praising 11 farmers of Mujkuwa village who set up a solar energy cooperative society, Modi appealed cultivators to generate solar power in their fields along with growing crops for additional income.
He asked farmers to adopt similar cooperative movements in creation of wealth from waste, especially from cow dung, which he called “gobar dhan (cow dung wealth)”.
“If people here take the initiative, it will serve as a model for the country. There is a culture of cooperative in our thinking here. We need to take it forward and think how we can take it forward in many other areas,” he said.
Referring to the issue of malnutrition, the prime minister said he is convinced that if a mother and her child remain healthy, the country can never be unhealthy.
On the occasion, Modi inaugurated with a remote control a Rs 533-crore premium chocolate plant of Amul, a nutritional food plant, a Rs 8 crore centre of excellence in food processing of the Anand Agriculture University, and a Rs 20 crore ice cream plant of the Vidya Dairy.
He also launched a Rs 1.44 crore solar cooperative society of Mujkuwa village constructed with the help of Anand-based National Dairy Development Board (NDDB), and laid the foundation stone of Amul’s milk processing, packaging and butter-making plants.