Urban Action School is a learning and reflection space for addressing the policy environment and furthering the debate nationally around issues relating to poverty, exclusion, livelihood, and justice from a wide range of disciplines. The success of this UAS lies with the cross-pollination of ideas brought forward by the active participation of activists, practitioners, and scholars from all across the country. Our sincerest gratitude to all the participants of Urban Action School 2021.
With all the transformation in the world of work with respect to technology, demography, urbanisation, climate change and globalisation, to name a few, governments are struggling to achieve a future of work that ensures decent and sustainable opportunities for their citizens. India is also a part of this process with several reports underlining that the economy is unable to generate enough jobs for the millions that enter the job market every year and those that are being created are informal, precarious, and low paid. COVID-19 has only unmasked this precarity. Community-rooted cooperatives have the potential to provide a viable solution to address challenges of inequality, while simultaneously creating economic growth.
Cooperatives have had a long and chequered history in India. In the initial decades following independence from British rule, promotion of cooperatives was an integral part of the planning process. While many of these cooperatives failed due to various reasons, some have stood out in crafting their own success stories including Amul, Nandini and Milma among dairy cooperatives as well as marketing boards for coffee, rubber and coconut. To examine cooperatives as an alternative model of economic organisation and employment generation maintaining decent work standards, we need to look at a region which has seen much success. It is In this context, that the particular journey of the growth of the cooperative movement In Kerala plays an important role.
Keeping this in mind, ‘Urban Action School 2021’ (UAS’21) was organised jointly by ActionAid Association (India), Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) and Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung South Asia from 1st to 7th December, 2021 at the Thrissur campus of KILA. With the broad theme of “Cooperatives and Decent Work – Model for Sustainable Economic Futures”, UAS’21 welcomed 25 participants from 16 states across India. The participants came from diverse backgrounds with diverse cooperative ventures like fisher folk cooperatives in Meghalaya, snake catchers’ cooperatives from Tamil Nadu, dairy cooperative workers from the Gujjar community of Himachal Pradesh and many more.
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