In a significant move, the Indian government has decided to computerize the registrars of all 28 states and eight union territories, along with the 1,851 Agriculture and Rural Development Banks (ARDB) operating in 13 states. This comprehensive computerization initiative is expected to bring transparency, uniformity, and efficiency to the functioning of these offices. It will also simplify access to services provided by cooperative departments and ARDBs, ultimately benefitting the citizens. a total expenditure of Rs 225.09 crore is estimated.
Landmark Decision by Union Home Minister Amit Shah
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who also holds the portfolio of Union Minister of Cooperation, has spearheaded this landmark decision. The move aims to modernize and streamline the operations of cooperatives at both the state and district levels.
In states, cooperatives are governed by the Registrar Cooperative Society (RCS). “On the lines of the computerisation scheme of all Primary Agriculture Cooperative Societies (PACs) in the country, a centrally sponsored scheme has been approved for computerisation of 1,851 units of ARDBs of 13 states through a national unified software and computerization of offices of Registrar of Cooperatives of all States/Union Territories similar to Central Registrar,” the government said, in a statement.
Centralized Government Computerization Scheme
The government has approved a centrally sponsored scheme for the computerization of 1,851 ARDB units in 13 states. This scheme will leverage a national unified software, similar to the Central Registrar, to computerize the offices of the Registrar of Cooperatives in all states and union territories. The total estimated expenditure for this initiative is Rs 225.09 crore.
A dedicated ‘Central Project Monitoring Unit’ (PMU) will be established to ensure the successful implementation of the computerization scheme. This unit will play a pivotal role in overseeing and managing the entire process.
Cooperative Sector’s Long-standing Demand
The decision to computerize ARDBs responds to a long-standing demand within the cooperative sector. The National Federation of Agriculture and Rural Development Banks (NAFCARD) had emphasized the need for such computerization.
Online Operations for ARDBs
Prior to this initiative, the operations of the 1,851 ARDBs were primarily manual, lacking online functionality. This modernisation effort will bring them into the digital age, enhancing their efficiency and accessibility.
Standardization for Uniformity
The State Registrar Offices (SRCs) in various states currently operate under different cooperative laws and have varying levels of computerization. Computerizing SRCs and adopting a common software platform will establish uniformity across all offices. This commonality will facilitate online registrations, simplifying the process for the public.
A Series of Cooperative Sector Reforms
This computerization initiative is part of a broader effort to reform and strengthen the cooperative sector. Other initiatives include reforming model bylaws, expanding cooperative societies’ scope of activities, unifying functional cooperatives under a single operating system, and introducing amendments to the Multi-State Cooperatives (Amendment) Act, of 2023. Additionally, tax relief measures have been introduced to promote parity with the corporate sector, and three multistate cooperative societies have been established for seed production, organic produce, and exports.
Vast Cooperative Network in India
India boasts over eight lakh cooperatives with a collective membership of 29 crore people, representing one-fourth of the country’s population. Of these, 1,600 are multistate cooperative societies, while the remaining cooperatives fall under state jurisdiction.
This comprehensive computerisation initiative is a significant step towards enhancing the efficiency and accessibility of cooperative services, benefiting millions of citizens across India.