Book Review - Co-op Laws in Asia and the Pacific by G.K. Sharma (1998)
(Source: Co-op Dialogue, Vol.8, No.1, Jan-June,1998, pp. 40)
Co-operative Laws in Asia and the Pacific by Mr. GK Sharma
Published by G.K. Sharma, 21 Defence Enclave, Vikas Marg, New Delhi 110092; pp 224. 1997. Price Indian Rs 390/US$38 (inclusive of packing and postage by airmail).
The book comes from a person who enjoys working with the co-operative institutions, the people who create them and govern them. He himself has been the administrator and promoter of all types of co-operatives, large or small, business or purely promotional, and national or international.
He has the distinction of running India's largest co-operative marketing federation - the NAFED, operating the Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific of the International
Co-operative Alliance, and advising co-operatives of all types in Asia-Pacific as the Regional Co-operative Development Advisor of the International Labour Office.
While working with the Government of Rajasthan as Assistant Registrar of
Co-operatives, he was able to advise grassroots level co-operatives on various issues - mostly legal, emerging out of the Co-operative law and the bye-laws of co-operatives - there is always a conflict between the co-operative and the government officials who `govern/administer' them.
This background, blended with his exposure to co-operative development in developed and developing countries, the author rightly has the authority and capacity to write a highly informatory and educative book on Co-operative Laws in Asia and the Pacific.
In the Asia-Pacific countries, co-operative laws play an important role. Co-operative institutions cannot operate without and outside their co-operative laws. Making laws on co-operative is a prerogative of the governments and co-operative institutions are expected to operate within these confines. And, naturally such laws are complicated and lengthy. The only exception, as the author points out, has been Australia where
co-operative institutions have the option of getting themselves registered under a
Co-operative Law or the Corporation Law. However, the role, contents and size of
co-operative laws differ considerably from country to country depending upon various factors e.g., political, social, cultural, economic, etc.
How the Principles of Co-operation are interpreted by various people and governments
is yet another important factor.
The present study Co-operative Laws in Asia and the Pacific conducted by the author indicated that the shortest law having just 39 articles is in Myanmar and the largest having as many as 446 articles in Australia. India has more than 20 co-operative laws plus one central law called the Multi-State Co-operative Societiesí Act.
Mr. Sharma had, in his capacity as the ICA Regional Director, suggested a number of modifications in the existing laws of various countries in the region e.g., Vietnam,
Myan-mar, the Philippines, Indonesia with a view to facilitate the operations and
growth of co-operative institutions there.
His focus was on simplifying the co-operative legislation and making co-operative policies more crisp and constructive to the advantage of co-operatives and their basic members.
The book consisting of three segments, traces the historical development of co-operatives and co-operative legislation in Asia and the Pacific, existing important provisions in
co-operative laws and the review of their implications on co-operatives. Although there have been several studies on co-operative legislation, the present publication is perhaps the first book to review and provide information on co-operatives of 21 Asia-Pacific countries at one place. It is hoped that this would provide useful resource and reference material to those who are interested in the study of various types of co-operative legislations in the Region.
Mr. Sharma's most significant achievement, while working with the ICA, has been to successfully create a platform on which the governments and the Movements could sit together and discuss policy matters, legislative flaws, and administrative problems faced by both. This was achieved through the Asia-Pacific Co-operative Ministers' Conferences and consultation meetings.
The theme of this forum has been : harmony, not conflict. Since the start of this exercise in 1990, almost all countries in the Region were able to make necessary reviews and realignments in their co-operative laws and related policies. The present book aptly testifies to his depth of understanding of co-operative laws, rules, regulations and policies.
It is an excellent reference material written in a lucid and an easy-to-understand language. The book aims at providing the co-operative policy makers, leaders, professionals and scholars with an authentic, well-researched and well-presented material on the subject.
The efforts of Mr. Sharma in presenting this book are laudable and highly commendable.
- Daman Prakash