The Karnataka State Souharda Federal Cooperative has welcomed the amendment to the Constitution making it a fundamental right to form cooperative societies.

“The 97th amendment to the Constitution passed in January this year grants citizens the fundamental right to form cooperative societies. The amendment has added the term cooperative societies along with the right to form unions. It has fulfilled a long-standing demand,” vice-president of the cooperative Gurunath Jantikar has said.

The amendment needs to be ratified by the State governments before February 14, 2013. “However, even if the States don’t do it before the deadline, it will be deemed as ratified,,” he said.

The amendment has also added a directive principle of State policy, asking the State “to promote voluntary formation, autonomous functioning, democratic control and professional management of cooperative societies’. This would go a long way in developing the cooperative sector, Mr. Jantikar said. The amendment would ensure representation to the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes and women on the board of directors of cooperative societies. This was a progressive move, he said, adding that the amendment would strengthen cooperatives and prepare them to face challenges like foreign direct investment in sectors like retail trade.