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The Panjab

     During our stay in the Panjab, we visited five centres, Rawal Pindi, Lyallpur, Lahore, Amritsar, and Jullundur, and under the guidance of Mr. H. Calvert the Registrar, assisted by Mr. C.F. Strickland the Deputy Registrar, inspected no less than twelve different forms of the Co-operative movement, as follows :-

1. Rural Credit Society (Agricultural), or Village Bank (as it is called in the Panjab).
2. Union of Village Banks (Agricultural)
3. Co-operative Commission Shop (Agricultural).
4. Non-agricultural Credit Society.
5. Railway Credit Society. (employees).
6. Co-operative Store Local and Central (non-agricultural).
7. Cattle Insurance Societies.
8. Central Co-operative Bank.
9. Central Co-operative Union.
10. Thrift Society.
11. Consolidation of Holdings Society.
12. Model Town Co-operative Society.

     In addition to these, a visit was paid to the offices of the Registrar of Co- operative Societies at Lahore where, inter alia, we inspected the Library, which the Registrar claims to be the best of all Co-operative Libraries, and a series of exami- nation papers set for candidates, desirious of becoming sub-inspectors after 15 months' training.

     It will not be out of place to say here that the Co-operative work being carried on in the Panjab (where there are now 10,000 Societies) is of the very highest quality, and that great credit for this is due to the Registrar, Mr. H. Calvert, and his subordinate staff, who have reached a high degree of efficiency and have put their heart and soul into the work. It may be added that the Co-operative population of the Panjab that we met, principally Mohamedan and Sikh, appears to be very much alive to the benefits accruing from Co-operation, and anxious to obtain them. The same remarks apply with equal force to Co-operators of the Banlay Presidency.

     It may also be noted that there is now very little Government money on loan to Societies in the Panjab.

     It is now proposed to deal in detail with the twelve forms of Co-operation out- lined above :-

 

1. Rural Creidt Society (or Village Bank) Agricultural.

     Visits were paid to rural credit Socieites at Rawal Pindi, Lyallpur, Baghbanpura (Shalimas Gardens, Lahore), Sanda Kalan (Lahore), Lambra (Jullundur), and Chuharwali (Jullundur).

     The Society at Rawal Pindi is conducted on the share system, in which members must have one share (up to a hundred shares) of Rs.10/- each in the Society, payable in ten yearly instalments of one Rupee a year. But after ten years the shares are returnable, and the accumulated profits are turned into non-returnable shares. Thereafter the profits are divisible in the proportion of 25% to reserve, and 75% to the members.

     The Society borrows money from the Central Bank at 9% and lends it out at 12 1/2%. Different Socieites have of course different rates.

     The Society at Lyallpur (actually at a famous village named Chak 118 G.B.) is the largest in the Panjab. It has been established over ten years and has 266 member, of all castes and religions, drawn from ten villages in the district.

     It is now independent, and does not require to borrow money from the Central Bank. It has in fact a large surplus in vested in the Central Bank. It is run on the same lines as that at Rawal Pindi, But new members entering the Society have to pay up all arrears of share subscriptions, plus 6 1/4% simple interest.

     The Society at Baghbanpura (Shalimar Gardens, Lahore) is run on the usual lines, but the members are rather more well-to-do than in most Societies, many of the members having contracted loans of over a thousand Rupees. The tone of the Society is none too good (perhaps owing to the reason just mentioned) and expulsion has been necessary in one case. This expulsion was actually decided on in our presence, the reason being debts long over due but not paid.

     The Society is of more than ten years' standing, and new members entering now have no shares, but pay an Entrance Fee and an annual subscription.

     The Society at Sanda Kalan (Lahore) is a large one, of fifteen years standing and membering 109 members. Five years ago it had 179, but a new Society has since been started in the district as that at Sanda Kalan was unwilling to admit new members, and this Society has attracted many of the members who formerly belonged to Sanda Kalan. The Society admits new members with great reluctance having become unco- operative in spirit, through being independent of outside borrowing agencies.

     Contrary to the practice in most Panjab Societies, this Society borrowed at the beginning sufficient money to pay off all the debts of its members, amounting to Rs. 80,000/-.

     In this case the experiment has been successful, but of other Societies in the Panjab, who have ventured to do the same, only 5% can claimed to be considered on a sound and firm footing.

     This Society has now paid off all loans, and is independent. It has large share and reserve funds, and holds a considerable sum deposited by members and others.

     The rate of interest on loans to members has been reduced to 4%, but overdue repayments are charged 9% interest.

     There are four Societies at Lambra (Jullundur), all of them established in 1908 and 1909, and all now very largely out of debt. Three of these Societies are of the same type as that at Rawal Pindi, but one is constituted on the lines that the paid-up shares are returnable after 10 years, and accumulated porfits turned into non-returnable shares, but that future profits are non-divisible and go to the Reserve fund. The reason for this is that all the members are Mohamedan, who connot receive interest.

     Two of these Societies have had to hire Secretaries, as they had no member capable of performing ghe work.

     The two Societies at Chuharwali (Jullundur) possess no special features, except the fact that one of them has considerable deposive India non-members residing abroad, in Australia and Africa.

     There are four types of Rural Credit Societies (agricultural) in vogue in the Panjab, of which the principal distinguishing feaures are as follow :-

  1. Shares returnable after ten years, and accumulated profits turneed into non- returnable shares. Future profits divisible in the proportion of 25% to reserve, and 75% to members.
  2. Shares extended, after ten years, for a further period of five or ten years. Further subscriptions are paid as usual and profits indivisible.
  3. Shares returnable after ten years, and accumulated profits turned into non- returnable shares : but future profits are indivisible.
  4. Shares non-returnable, and profits indivisible.

     As far as could be gathered, No.1 is most in practice. No.2 has been found useful, where the Society has not felt itself sufficiently strong after the ten years period. No.3 is only in use among purely Mohamedan Socieites (of Lambra, above). No.4 is according to the Registrar, the most desirable of all, but the most difficult of achievement.

     In the Panjab all Societies are classed in one or other of four categories, viz :-

  • A. Class - only includes really first-class Societies, where there is no defect observable either in the administration, or in the habits of the members.
  • B. Class- includes all those of good quality, but not high enoug to be classed A.
  • C. Class - includes all those of average quality.
  • D. Class - includes all those of poor quality.

     Classes A and B send their applicatiions for loans direct to the Central Banks. Classes C and D must apply through the Registrar (i.e. their local inspector).

     When a Society is independent of Bank, it can of itself reduce its rate of interest to members (ef. Sanda Kalan).

 

2. Union of Village Banks (agricultural)

     We paid visits to Unions of Socieites at Tarn Taran (Amritsar) ; Nakoda and Madar (Jullundur).

     The Union as in Burma, has only Societies as Members, and does not admit individuals : it deals only with the interests of Societies. The average number of Societies in a Union is 15 to 20.

     The Banking Union in the Panjab, in addition to exercising the functions of a Supervising Union as in Burma, does Banking business as well, as its name implies and the outside public are encouraged to deposit funds with it.

     Each Society contributes one share of the value of Rs.100/- and upward. These shares are non-returnable and the profits are indivisible.

     Societies are represented at General Meetings by one man for every 25 members ; and the General Meeting elects the Chairman and the Committee.

     It will be opportune to mention here one important factor, which, with one exception (namely in the Central Bank at Jullundur), prevails throughout the Panjab. This is the principle, at all meetings, of one man one vote (not one share one vote). We will return to this point later on.

     As indicated above, this type of Union combines the functions of a Supervising Union and a Central Bank. It is only suitable for districts where the affiliated societies are all of long standing, and established on a firm basis.

     In the Panjab, where there is no main Provincial Bank, the Union also acts as intermediary between Borrowing and Lending Societies. If a particular Union has surplus funds in hand, it can lend them to other Unions through the medium of the Registrar, who is kept constantly informed by the Union regarding their requirements, whether of a borrowing or a lending nature. By this means the use of all surplus funds is assured.

     Another function of the Union is to encourage the deposits of funds by members in their own Societies.

     The Banking Unions at Nakoda and Madar are important, enbracing over 50 Societies. That at Madar is the largest in the Panjab, and was the first established.

 

3. Co-operative Commission Shop (Agricultural)    

     An attempt is being made at Lyallpur, not without a considerable nature of success, to compete with the "banya" in the market for the sale of grain and other agricultural produce : and a Co-operative Commission shop has been set up in the market place for this purpose.

     The shares in the Society are Rs.50/- each, and the shareholders must be bultivators, or connected with the cultivation of land, or Societies.

     Societies are allowed one share for every 20 members ; while individuals can purchase 4 shares for every 25 acres of land held, up to 20 shares. The voting principle is the same as in other forms for Co-operation, one man (or Society) one vote.

     The primary object of the shop is to act as a market for the sale od the product of members, to other members or to the outside public. That is to say, as a rule, the owner of the grain meets the buyer and makes his own contract, which is then entered in the shop's register.

     But the shop is also prepared to store and sell the grain on behalf of the owner, if desired, In either case a sale commission of 1/2%, and a labour commission of 1% (for handling the produce) - or 1 1/2% in all are charged on all sales.

     .The shop has now been able to drect its own brick & mortar godown (which was formally opened by Prince Bidya during our visit), where grain can be kept in store, on behalf of the owners, if not sold immediately.

     The advantages tothe owner, which arise from his selling his grain through the Commission Shop, may be enumerated as follows :-

  1. True weight is obtained.
  2. The Commission charged is very small.
  3. The market is well know to buyers and sellers.
  4. The fraudulent book-keeping, customary among 'banyas', is avoided.
  5. The shop will pay the value of the grain on the sopt, if sold at once. N.B. The shop will store the grain, until actually paid for by the buyer.
  6. If the grain is not sold at once, the Shop will advance 75% of the value to the owner at 9 1/2% interest. N.B. In the case of prices falling, the shop has the right to sell but it will notify the owner previously.
  7. Shareholders can borrow money from the Shop at 9 1/2% interest.

     The Commission Shop pays a flat rate of 8 annas per member to the Panjab Co-operative Union for inspection fees.

 

4. Non-Agricultural Credit Society.

     An inspection was made of urban credit Societies at Rawal Findi, Lyallpur, Lahore, and Jullunder. These Societies were not without interest, as the members were comprised of diverse occupations, from sweepers to silk weavers.

     The Society at Rawal Pindi was composed entirely of sweepers (the lowest caste) and numbered 11 members, whose average earning wage was Rs.11/- per month, and who had no visible or tangible property whatever.

     Each member contributed one Rupee per month for ten years towards the cost of his share in the Society.

     The Central Bank had given this Society a cash credit of Rs.1,000/-, and most of the money borrowed was to enable the members' wives to hawk sweets and other articles.

     By this means the wives were able to contribute towards the family budget, and thus raise the standard of domestic life.

     All loans are repaid to the Society by monthly instalments.

     Although the Society has only been working for two or three years, it has already paid back about half of the loan borrowed from the Bank.

     The Society at Lyallpur was composed entirely of Tongawallahs (Gharry drivers), and was run on the same lines as the at Rawal Pindi. There was 25 members and the average loan amounted to about Rs.125/- per member. The loans were given principally for buying horses and tongas.

     Two Societies at Lahore were visited. One was composed entirely of Christian converts, all very poor people living in the same village, but following different occupations. The moral pressure is great, and the Society was doing reasonably well. The other Society was conducting a printing press establishment in the town itself. It has only just begun working and has earned no profits as yet. The capital required has been largely borrowed from the Central Bank : the remainder is drawn from shareholders who pay in monthly instalments. Many of the shareholders are working in the printing press on a monthly salary. There were two or three non-members also working in the Press at the time of our visit, but it is the aim of the society to replace them by members, unless they join the Society.

     The Press naturally receives a good deal of Co-operative printing work, and seems likely to be a success.

     In jullundur we visited a silk weavers Society which was run on normal lines and was doing good work : and also two Urban credit Societies (out of 18 in the city of Jullundur). Only one out of these eighteen, a Blacksmith's Society, is in the A Class.

     The shares are of higher par value than in rural Societies, as urban requirements are greater.

     There is no doubt that the urban Societies in the Panjab (which is mainly an agricultural country) are not so successfur as the rural Societies. The reason for this is not far to seek. In rural Societies there is always a common bond in a common occupation, but in urban societies, unless the members all follow the same trade or calling (as in the case of blacksmiths, gharry drivers, sweepers), the occupations of the members are of diverse natures and the communal spirit is not present in any-thing like the same degree.

 

5. Railway Credit Society (Employees of the North-Western Railway.

     This Society which is rather of an unusual nature, has 12,000 members, with its Headquarters at Lahore.

     The members must be employees of the North-Western Railway, and must subscribe to the Company's President fund.

     The object is to enable members to pay off loans contracted outside, and to encourage thrift.

     Shares are paid in monthly instalements, and all grades of employees (earning Rs.15/- a month upwards) are permitted to join.

     Loans are repaid by monthly instalments, deducted from wages, the amount being fixed by the borrower, in accord with the Committee of the Society.

     The office-bearers of the Society are all paid.

     Big loans are discouraged as much as possible, and savings are encouraged.

 

6. Co-operative Store (Non-agricultural).

     Of these we saw two, a Weaving Store at Amritsar, and the Panjab Central Weavers' Store at Jullundur.

     The Co-operative Store at Amritsar, which is in the heart of the market, is a Federation of Weavers' Societies, no individual shareholders being admitted. It carried on credit and Banking business as well as sales on Commission. Members get rebates on purchases. Apart from shares and loans and ordinary deposits, the Society also receives deposits from the Registrar, of funds of liquidated Societies, as well as deposits from the Director of Industries.

     It is conducted on much the same lines as the industrial branch of the Hita Co-operative Store at Mandalay, but is more successful.

     The Central Weavers' Store at Jullundur has affiliated to it all the Weaving Unions in the Panjab.

     A general meeting is held annually, at which the Chairman is official (i.e. Registrar or Duputy Registrar), but the Vice-Chairman is elected from the representatives.

     Each Union sends one representative for every 25 Societies affiliated to it.

     The Store has an outside Manager, whose salary is paid by the Government.

     The first object of the Store is to buy yarn wholesale in large quantities, and advanced it to Unions, in place of cash. The amount so advanced is, however, entered in the accounts as a cash debit to the Union concerned.

     The Union can also, if it wishes, purchase its yarn elsewhere, but the Store will pay the account.

     The second object of the Store is to sell the finished product on behalf of the Unions, on commission. Another object is to introduce improved looms, but at present, out of 1,400 members, only 25 are using improved looms. The remainder still prefer the old-fashioned ones.

     There are at present no deposits of funds in the Central Store, but compulsory deposits are being considered.

     During our visit an exhibition of cloth, silk and cotton, was held in the Town Hall by the Central Store.

     The quality of the material was excellent, and the finish good. It was certainly the best of its kind that we saw during our tour.

 

7. Cattle Insurance Society.

     There are now 40 cattle Insurance Societies in the Panjab, but the Registrar confessed that they were not as successful as they might be.

     The principle on which they are run is that there are no shares, but that capital is mainly derived from Premiums.

     The limits of age for insurable animals are fixed at over 4 and under 12 years of age.

     Bullocks and buffaloes both pay the same rate, 5% of the declared value.

     The limit of insurable value for any one animal is fixed at Rs.100/-, and the full sum is paid on death.

The declared value will only be paid if the cattle dies of disease, and if the advice of the society has been carried out in taking steps to preserve it.

 

8. District Central Co-operative Bank.

     These we visited at four centres, Rawal Pindi, Lyallpur, Lahore, and Jullundur.

     All these banks are run on much the same lines as the District Central Banks in Burma.

     Both Societies and individuals can hold shares, of the shares issued, the Societies must hold at least one thousand. Moreover, no individual can own shares to the value of more than Rs.1,000.- or one fifth of the total shares subscribed.

     The Banks are conducted solely for the purpose of financing primary Societies, and the dividend paid should not exceed 10%. Twenty five per cent of the profits is always placed to reserve.

     The general principle at meetings throughout the Panjab is one man (or Society) one vote. At Jullundur, as previously noted, the principle still is one share one vote.

     The Indian Laws require that in the case of primary Societies, the voting power shall be one man one vote ; but in the case of banks, the method of voting is left to the bye-laws. It is nowadays considered un-cooperative to adopt or adhere to the principle of one share one vote, and the solitary instance of the Jullundur Bank will probably undergo a change in the near future. Both official and public Co-operative opinion is against the attitude of this bank, which, apart from this one fact, is an admirable institution.

     The Bank was the first established in India, in 1909, and will not give up the principle on which it was started. It has a paid up share capital of Rs.150,000/- and an annual turnover of about 15 lakhs of rupees.

     Another point, in which it differs from other Central Banks, is that all Socieites, whether of the A, B, C, or D, Class, must apply for loans through the Registrar.

     The Bank at Lahore has no special features of interest, and is run on the same lines as that at Rawal Pindi. The Bank at Lyallpur pays no Directors' Fees, but allows a bonus if available, This Bank had a very hard struggle at the start, but it is now doing well and obtains cash credits from the Imperial Bank of India up to two lakhs, and from the Allahabad Joint Stock Bank up to one lakh. Most of the Committee are peasant land-holders.

 

9. The Panjab Co-operative Union Limited.

     All the Central Banks and Banking Unions are members of this Union, and send two representatives each to its meetings.

     The functions and duties of this Union are as follows :-

  1. to promote and extend co-operation, to work for the common good of all co-operators, to aid in the conduct of co-operative business : and to act as agents on behalf of its members and to develop and strengthen co-operative organisation ;
  2. to take measures for the audit, as required by law, of all registered co-operative Societies which contribute to the funds of this Union ;
  3. to facilitate mutual aid between Central Banks in the transfer of funds, utilisation of surplus resources and otherwise ;
  4. to establish and maintain a provident Fund for all employees of this Union, of all Central Banks and of all other registered Co-operative Societies in the Panjab ;
  5. to assist registered Co-operative Societies in the investment of their funds, the storing of such investments and the drawal of interest thereon.

     All Central Banks and Banking Unions contribute an annual subscription to the Union (of. Commission Ship at Lyallpur), and in their turn collect subscriptions from their affiliated Societies estimated at a fixed flat rate per member.

     The Union is now applying to the Government for financial assistance to pay their sub-inspectors, as the subcriptions contributed are not sufficient.

     This Union has also done a small amount of Banking business itself : but this is not encouraged by the Registrar.

     The Union, however, in its other phases plays a very important role, and is welcomed by the Government as providing a link between it and Societies, in addition to the Registrar and his official staff.

     In addition to the above normal forms of the Co-operative movement, we saw three other aspcets of it in the Panjab, all of which were of considerable interest, as follows :-

 

10. Co-operative Thrift Societies.

     Visits were paid to two small thrift Societies, one at Asrapur near Amritsar (purely women), and the other at Amritsar itself (District Board Employees).

     The Society at Asrapur was started about a year ago by a very able Christian woman missionary (of Indian nationality), and comprises all denominations of women through out the village. It is a pure thrift Society, and the savings per member vary from 8 annas to 5 rupees a month. The amount is fixed by each member herself in accord with the General meeting each year, and the Committee collect the amount personally from door to door.

     All funds are lodged with the Central Bank at 6 1/2% interest.

     Loans are not permitted as a rule, as it is a thrift Society, but are allowed in extreme cases, up to 75% of the individual's saving at 9% interest.

     The Society at Amritsar is run on the same lines as the above, but differs in the fact that all the members are regular wage-earners, and that therefore their contributions are more certain.

 

11. Consolidation of Holdings Society.

     We visited two of these Societies, at Ghazipur and Chome, both in the Jullundur district.

     The work which these Societies are doing is only in its infancy, but it may prove to be of incalculable importance to the Panjab. The object of these Societies may be briefly described as follows :-

     Where, during these course of centuries, the land in a village has been divided up into many partsw by inheritance in accordance with Mohamedan Law, the object is to get all the holders of the land to form themselves into a Co-operative Society, and then to pool all the land and parcel it out afresh ; so that, instead of having many small plots (many of them so small or narrow as to be unworkable) scattered all over the village, each member may have one combined large area. The value of the land is thereby very largely enhanced.

     In some cases over 200 parcels of land have been reduced to 20 or 30.

     It has been a difficult work to make the villagers realise the benefits to be derived from such a scheme ; but, when they have at last done so, words can scarcely express their pleasure and satisfaction.

     This subject need not detain us any further, as it scarcely applies to Siam ; but it was worth seeing and recording as an example of what Co-operative spirit can and will achieve.

 

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