Small Is Big — I
Tribune News Service
Hoshiarpur, November 16
Or, just ask Mr Jagdish Singh, Mr Gurbachan Singh, Mr Jasbir Singh and many others like them.
Theirs has been a story of self-dependence, economic prosperity, employment generation, helping the landless and poor in fighting poverty and above all human resource development related to a cluster of four villages, near here.
Transformation in the destiny of these four villages has been brought by the Lambra-Kangri Multipurpose Co-operative Service Society setup as a routine cooperative society in 1920 and converted into multipurpose one in 1999 when its capital was just Rs 1.49 crore.
Believe it or not, this society has not taken a single penny as loan from any cooperative or other bank since October 1999. From its own capital worth Rs 7.34 crore, it has advanced as loan Rs 4.5 crore to farmers, shopkeepers, women and other self-help groups set up by it. Its recovery of loan is 95 per cent. With fixed deposits of Rs 2.25 crore, the society distributes the profit earned by it among the shareholders who are rural folks. A few weeks ago, it distributed a profit of Rs 24.42 lakh. At the village level, it has provided 24-hour cash withdrawal facility to its members. The society has reached out to people beyond the cluster of four villages.
After retiring from the Army as Subedar, Mr Jagdish Singh, was a depressed man. Though he was getting pension, it was not enough to sustain his family. He thought of buying a buffalo to engage in selling milk. However, he had no surplus money. He approached the Lambra-Kangri society that gave him a loan of Rs 15,000 to buy one buffalo four years ago. Since then he has added six more buffaloes to his stock and sells about 30 kg of milk daily. “The society even employed my son Sukhdev Singh as a driver”, he says. From the same society, Mr Gurbachan Singh got a loan of Rs 50,000 to buy a rig to start installing tubewells. His two sons are now engaged in installing tubewells. His family survives on the rig.
And Mr Jasbir Singh, who has won many awards in flower competitions, was an unknown entity until recently. After taking a loan of Rs 50,000 from the society, he started floriculture. “My earning has touched Rs 1 lakh from two and a half acres. The society helped in buying costly seeds.”
In fact, the cluster of villages has thrown up a unique model of self-dependence, economic prosperity and employment generation. These villages are Lambra, Bario Kangri, Baggewal and Dadiana Kalan.
“Examine it critically; it is a better model than the one being practised by Nobel Peace Prize winner Mohammad Yunus of Bangladesh," say villagers.
The society plies seven three-wheelers on the Lambra-Bullowal and Lambra-Hariana route. Students are given 50 per cent concession to travel to their educational institutions on these vehicles. Besides, two jeeps owned by it remain available 24-hours for providing free emergency services to residents. Any sick person needing hospitalisation at any nearby hospital is transported without charging a single penny, asserts Mr Chander Dev Singh, secretary of the society, whose grandfather was among the first ones open the society in the village in 1920.
It has a whole set up of agriculture implements such as discs, cultivators, multipurpose drills, diggers and sowing machines which are given on rent to small and marginal farmers on an hourly basis, charging nominal rates. “As each agriculture implement costs between Rs 20,000 and Rs 45,000, small farmers cannot afford to buy these. The society has made arrangements for them”, says Mr Chander Dev. It has now bought a new tractor for small farmers.
Mr Chander Dev has taken an education loan worth Rs 1.50 lakh from the society for his son Gurvinder Singh, who is doing MTech.
Having 16 employees on its rolls, the society has been advancing loans to people to buy trucks, sewing machines, buffaloes, opening retail shops, setting up marriage places and other such purposes. It has given loans to at least 100 persons to set up self-employment ventures. Even loans up to Rs 10 lakh have been advanced to certain individuals.
(To be concluded)