Union Minister of State for Agriculture Parshottam Rupala launched Ayushman Sahakar Scheme on 19 October, 2020.
It is a unique scheme to assist cooperatives and plays a crucial role in the creation of healthcare infrastructure in the country. Under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, the National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC), it is formulated by the apex autonomous development finance institution.
About National Cooperative Development Corporation (NCDC)
It was set up in 1963 under an Act of Parliament for promotion and development of cooperatives. It works or functions under the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare. Some of the recent initiatives are Sahakar Cooptube NCDC Channel which is youth-focussed and Sahakar Mitra which is an internship programme, etc.
Features of Ayushman Sahakar Scheme
In the coming years, NCDC would extend term loans to prospective cooperatives to the tune of Rs.10,000 Crore.
NCDC’s scheme is going to be a step towards strengthening farmers welfare activities by the Central Government.
The scheme would revolutionize the way healthcare delivery takes place in rural areas.
Any Cooperative Society which has suitable provisions in its bylaws will undertake healthcare-related activities that would be able to access the NCDC fund.
The scheme covers several sections including establishment, expansion, modernisation, repairs, renovation of hospital and healthcare and infrastructure for education.
The assistance provided by the NCDC will flow either through the State Government/UT Administrations or directly to the eligible cooperatives.
To meet the operational requirement, the scheme will also provide working capital and margin money.
Also, it will provide interest subvention of 1% to women majority cooperatives.
Significance of the Ayushman Sahakar Scheme
The scheme has a comprehensive approach which covers hospitals, healthcare, medical education, nursing education, paramedical education, health insurance and holistic health systems such as AYUSH.
No doubt the COVID-19 pandemic created or brought into focus about the necessity of creating more facilities.
Around 52 hospitals are there in the country that is run by cooperatives. And cumulative bed strength that they have is more than 5000.
Also, the scheme increases the provision of healthcare services by cooperatives.
The scheme is also in line with the National Digital Health Mission and would bring changes or transformation in villages or rural areas.
As we know that cooperatives have a strong presence in the villages or rural areas and so utilising the scheme by cooperatives will also revolutionise the way healthcare delivery takes place in the areas.
The scheme also focuses on the National Health Policy of 2017 which covers the health systems in all the dimensions including investment in health, organisation of healthcare services, access to technologies, development of human resources, encouragement of medical pluralism, affordable health care to farmers, etc.
What are Cooperatives?
As per the International Labour Organisation (ILO), a cooperative is an autonomous association. Here, persons meet voluntarily to satisfy their common economic, social and cultural needs and aspirations via jointly owned and democratically controlled enterprise.
Are there any provisions in the Indian Constitution related to Cooperatives?
Yes, there are certain provisions as mentioned below:
In Article 19(1)(c) under Part III of the Constitution, the world ‘Cooperatives” were added after “unions and associations”. This provides all the citizens to create cooperatives by providing it with the status of the fundamental right of citizens.
A new Part IXB is added by the Constitution (97th Amendment) Act, 2011 right after Part IXA (Municipals) about the cooperatives working in India.
Also, in the Directive Principles of State Policy (Part IV), a new Article 43B was added which tells about the “promotion of cooperative societies”.