Saturday, February 22, 2014
First in co-operation
Frederick Nicholson, Collector of Madras in the late 19th century, had proposed setting up agricultural credit banks to alleviate the problems faced by the farmers. That experiment was successful, and a few years later, the government was attempting to see how that model could be extended to non-agricultural sectors as well. Both these attempts - the agricultural credit banks as well as the extension of such credit facilities to other sectors - were spearheaded by the Madras Presidency, but their impact was across the subcontinent.
Based on the recommendations of the committee that considered extension of credit societies, The Co-operative Credit Societies Act 1904 was passed in March 1904. Almost as soon as the Act was passed, a group of people in Triplicane registered the first society under that Act. The Triplicane Urban Co-operative Society (TUCS) thus became India's first registered co-operative body. The founders included V.R. Singaravelar and Ambat Sivarama Menon, with VS Srinivasa Sastri taking charge as the first President.
TUCS continues to be extremely active today. It is run by a Special Officer deputed by the state government, and has over 100,000 individual members. It also has close to 300 institutional members - not including the state government, which is the largest shareholder - and over 50 other co-operative societies as members. Its turnover during the current financial year is expected to cross Rs.200 crores, making it a very decently run organization. The building in the picture is the headquarters of TUCS, inaugurated in 1952. Being the first in the country, TUCS has had a huge role in shaping the progress of the co-operative movement across India - even if that is hidden from many of the citizens!