About the NPO/Co-Operative Sector

About Cooperative Sector

A cooperative is an autonomous association of persons united voluntarily to meet their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations through a jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise. Cooperatives as business enterprise possess some basic interests such as ownership and control but these interests are directly vested in the hands of the user. Therefore, they follow certain broad values other than those associated purely with profit making. Need for profitability is balanced by the needs of the members and the wider interest of the community. The values universally recognized as cornerstones of cooperative behavior are self-help, democracy, equality, equity and solidarity. Voluntary and open membership, democratic control, economic participation, autonomy, training and information and concern for community are the overarching features by which the cooperatives put their values into practice. The Indian cooperative sector completed 107 years of its existence in 2011. It was born during the later part of the colonial era’ predominantly as a Government initiative to address the twin issues of farmers’ indebtedness and poverty. This initiative was formalized in a legislation enacted in 1904 entitled the “Cooperative Credit Societies Act, 1904. With the presence in practically all walks of rural life and a coverage spanning almost all villages of the country, the cooperatives have come to be recognized as one of the most important economic and social organizations in the nation’s life. Cooperatives are meant to be enterprises of the citizens and it is envisaged that a vibrant and robust cooperative movement can significantly contribute in harnessing the positive potential of social capital for the greater good of society.


A co-operative society is a voluntary association started with the aim of service of its members. It is a form of business where individuals belonging to the same class join their hands for the promotion of their common goals. These are generally formed by the poor people or weaker section people in the society. It reflects the desire of the poor people to stand on their own legs or own merit. The philosophy of the formation of co-operative society is "all for each and each for all".

Section 4, of the Indian Co-operative Societies Act, 1912 defines a cooperative "as a society which has its objective the promotion of economic interest of its members in accordance with co-operative principles".

About Not-for-profit Organizations

Voluntarism has long been an integral part of the Indian society, dating back to 1,500 BC when it was mentioned in the Rig Vedas. Voluntarism was the main source of welfare and development except for those few empires with a well developed public welfare system. The role of the political regimes was mainly restricted to promoting moral, aesthetic, and spiritual progress of the civilization, in addition to enduring exploitation by the monarch, the aristocracy, and government officials.  Naturally, voluntarism played an important role in social and economic development of the civilization.  It operated in the fields of education, medicine, cultural promotion and in crises such as droughts, floods, epidemics, foreign invasions, and pilferage by robbers and criminals. The disadvantaged and the poor were taken care of by social mechanisms outside the state — through the joint family, caste, solidarity of colleagues, guilds, and individual religious philanthropy.

Not-for-profit Organizations are known by different names in the country namely: Non-Government Organizations (NGOs), Voluntary Organizations (VOs), Community based Organizations (CBOs), Self-help groups (SHGs), Societies, Associations, trusts, Clubs etc.  These organizations have been making significant contribution towards social and economic development in India.


The World Bank defines NPOs
as “private organizations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services, or undertake community development”. The World Bank further classifies operational NPOs into three main groups:

1.     Community Based Organisations (CBOs) – these serve a specific population in a narrow geographical area in individual developing countries.

2.     National Organisations – these operate in developing countries.

3.     International Organisations  – these are typically headquartered in developed countries and carry out operations in more than one developing country

The term NPO is thus very broad and encompasses many different types of organizations. Further, NPOs range from large international charities, to community-based self-help groups. Certain research institutes and professional associations also operate as NPOs. It is not established for the benefit of or does not provide any benefit to any particular caste or religious community. So people desire to carrying on charitable activities or activities for the benefit of public in large especially for social and economically weaker people including women and/or children.