Ganesh Bhat:

Social media are flooded with the reports of increasing concentration of wealth in the hand of few persons. The recent one is about the increase of wealth of about 50 rich people of the world by more than 30% during last year, when the whole world was reeling under the fear of covid-19 and the common people were facing , job losses economic hardships, sufferings etc..  

             It is no more a secret that capitalism in different shades which is the socio-economic system being followed in almost all the countries of the world, is the real culprit for the steady increase in the concentration of wealth in the hands of few. Widening of the gap between the rich and the poor is reaching alarming proportions and the well-wishers of the human society are trying to find an alternate system; while the politicians and the henchmen of crony capitalists are busy in trying to convince the masses that there is no better socio-economic system than capitalism. Communism is no more a system in practice and confined to books only.    

     Where individuality dominates human life, the environment, the welfare of different groups and even the continued existence of humanity may be adversely affected. PROUT is well-adjusted with human ideals and sentiments. Other socio-economic systems are ultravires to human existence and all-round elevation.  The cooperative system is the best representation of the sweet nectar of humanity. Neither the commune system nor capitalism can solve human problems. Only the cooperative system can solve all sorts of social, cultural and national problems.   

Cooperative combines the wealth and resources of many individuals and harnesses them in a united way by seeking a balanced adjustment between collective spirit and individual rights. 

All people have the right to be guaranteed minimum requirements such as food (including water), clothing, housing, education and medical care. These basic requirements of every individual can be complied only through cooperative system.

To protect the farmers from distress sales, the cooperative system is essential.

Cooperatives will also be able to fix the price of their own produce within certain price limits.   

      There can be Farmers Cooperatives, Producer’s cooperatives, Consumer’s cooperatives, Satellite cooperatives, Service cooperatives, Banking cooperatives, housing cooperatives, family annuity cooperatives etc.

Cooperative Production: 

        Of the different systems of production – the cooperative system, private enterprise, the sharecropping system and the commune system – the last one is the worst. The sharecropping system is slightly better than the commune system, and better still is private enterprise, but the best system is the cooperative system of production.

             The production and distribution systems of the commune system are fundamentally defective, exploitative and anti-human. The sharecropping system suffers from some major defects and in a roundabout way such a system encourages capitalism in agriculture.   Private enterprise is not desirable because it will lead to over accumulation.

       In the modern world the cooperative system is the best system of agricultural and industrial production. 

Cooperation in Agriculture:

For the proper reorganization and maximum utilization of agricultural land, the cooperative system is most preferable. 

Agriculture should have the same status as industry; and can best be implemented through the cooperative system. 

       Local people should not only control cooperative bodies, but supervise all activities related to the local economy. The local administration will have to assist the economic development of cooperatives. 

Solving Unemployment: 

              Unless the local people are fully employed in the local economy, unemployment can never be solved.    

         According to PROUT, wherever there is surplus labour, top priority must be given to creating employment for all local labour. This policy will raise the standard of living of the local people and the whole area. Cooperatives will provide employment for local people, and also ensure that the skills and expertise of the local people are fully utilized.    Cooperative system will benefit local economy and village people will not need to move to the cities for employment. 

 Solution to Labour Disputes:

      There may be a temporary solution to this problem by accepting the rights of labourers in management, granting them some dividend out of the net profit, setting apart some amount for reserve funds and sinking funds for creating fresh capital and interest on this capital, and distributing net profits among labourers. PROUT opines that the permanent solution lies in the large scale implementation of the cooperative system and the socialisation of land, industries, trade and commerce.  

       The problem of a floating population and immigrant labour will not occur in the cooperative system, as cooperative members will have to be local people.

Economic power to the people through Cooperatives:

          PROUT’s approach is that maximum industries should be developed in the local area according to the availability of raw materials or local consumption. 

          This principle will develop the economic potential of a socioeconomic unit by placing economic power into the hands of the local people, those who work physically or intellectually for proper production and divesting outsiders and capitalists of their control over the economy.

         Cooperatives are the best means to organize local people independently, guarantee their livelihood and enable them to control their economic welfare.

    As far as possible, agriculture, industry and trade should be managed through cooperatives. In these sectors of the economy private ownership should be abolished in stages. Only where production cannot be undertaken by cooperatives because of the complex nature or small scale of operations should it be undertaken by private enterprises. The distribution of commodities should be done through consumers cooperatives.   

  In a decentralized economy most medium-scale industries should be managed as cooperatives, but they should not be guided by monopoly production and profit. 

Characteristic of Prout’s Cooperative Economy:  

PROUT is not confined to establish cooperative institutions, but ensures cooperation as a socio-economic system.

The cooperative model of PROUT is free from defects of both Capitalism and communism and is well-adjusted with human ideals and sentiments. The cooperative sector will be the main sector of PROUT economy. 

Production for Consumption and not for Profit. 

There will be no compulsory age for superannuation. People should be free to work as long as they like, providing their health permits.

•     No scope for interest earning shares; that is, there should be dividend earning shares and not profit earning shares.  If there is profit earning shares, these shares will be sold in the share market, capitalists will buy the shares, the rate of share prices will fluctuate according to share market prices; the spirit of the cooperative system will be destroyed and cooperatives will go into the hands of the capitalists.

For the same reason, members of the cooperative should not have power or right to transfer their shares without the permission of the cooperative, but their shares can be inherited. 

From Failure to Success:   

      Many people raise questions regarding cooperatives because in most countries the cooperative system has failed. This is because most countries could not evolve the indispensable conditions necessary for the success of the cooperative system.    

    One of the principal reasons for the past failure of the cooperative movement is economic centralization.  Cooperatives are forced to compete with the monopoly capitalists for local markets, and the rights of the local people over their raw materials are not recognized.  It is extremely difficult for cooperatives to succeed in an economic environment of exploitation, corruption, materialism and rampant immorality spread by capitalist exploiters to perpetuate their domination.   

   PROT says, “Cooperatives depend upon three main factors for their success – morality, strong supervision and the wholehearted acceptance of the masses. Wherever these three factors have been evident in whatever measure, cooperatives have achieved proportionate success.

    As this kind of mentality was never created in India, India is a classic example of the failure of the cooperative system. Indian cooperatives were not created for economic development but for the fulfilment of political interests.”

Pre requisites for success of cooperative system:    

       According to PROUT, for the total implementation of the cooperative system, there must be proper psychic preparation through internal urge and external pressure, adjusting with the time factor, because people will never accept a system which is forcibly imposed on them. 

       Cooperative ownership cannot stand in open competition with individual enterprise. Thus it requires protective armour – that is, exemption from sales tax, duties, etc. Protective armour should be limited to essential commodities only and should be withdrawn slowly.

 Integrated Progress:

         PROUT says, “The day is very near when science will be guided by spiritually oriented intellectuals who will rule the earth, and for this the cooperative system is indispensable. When this day comes, science will move forward with leaps and bounds, causing the intellectual capacity of human beings to increase immensely. Cooperatives will greatly assist this psychic and spiritual advancement. No part of the universe will be left unutilized – every nook and corner will be properly used.”

    The establishment of an ideal society depends on the mutual help of the members and their cooperative behaviour. This cooperative behaviour depends on the practice of the principles of Yama and Niyama and expansion of small ‘I’ feeling to ‘we’.   

 The cooperative system is a must, and it is only possible through decentralized economy. The cooperative system and decentralized economy are inseparable.

     Only the cooperative system can ensure the healthy, integrated progress of humanity, and establish complete and everlasting unity among the human race. People should work to enjoy sweeter fruits by establishing the cooperative system. 



By Ganesh Bhat
 e-mail –ganeshbhatsirsi@yahoo.com 

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