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International Co-operative Alliance Asia and Pacific[ICA- AP]

The International Co-operative Alliance [ICA] came to Asia Pacific Region with the establishment of the Regional Office & Education Center for South-East Asia in 1960 as a result of the discussions that had taken place at the various Congresses of the Alliance since 1948. At these discussions, ways and means were explored to bring the national Co-operative Movements in the developing countries closer to the Alliance and also to seize the global challenge of contributing through the instrument of Cooperation, to the social and economic development of the developing countries.

The 19th Congress of the ICA held in Paris in September 1954 passed a resolution emphasizing ‘the obligation which rests upon every member of the Alliance, and especially on those which are firmly established in their own countries, to supply every kind of aid and encouragement to co-operative pioneers and newly-formed organisations in the under-developed countries’ and directing the authorities of the Alliance to draw up a programme of action by the ICA and its members for the promotion of Co-operation in all its forms in the under-developed regions of the world and to consider ways and means to providing the finance necessary for the execution of this programme.

At the instance of the ICA, Dr G. Keler of Sweden undertook an exploratory tour of Asia to assess the needs for establishment of an ICA Asian Regional Office. He visited Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka [then Ceylon], Singapore, Malaya, Indonesia, Burma, Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan and South Korea and held discussions with important co-operative organizations, governments, co-operative leaders and UN Agencies. Dr Keler had proposed to hold an International Consultation Conference to discuss his findings.

After the exploratory tour by Dr G. Keler, a Conference was convened at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in January 1958 for the purpose of consulting the co-operative organisations and the governments of the Region. Guided by the views expressed there and of its own further studies, the Alliance decided to establish its Regional Office in New Delhi. At about the same time, the Co-operative Movement of Sweden was examining the possibilities of doing co-operative educational work in India. Finally the Swedish Movement and the ICA agreed upon establishing a Regional Office and an Education Centre for South-East Asia. The term South-East Asia was used even though the institution covered both South and East Asia, in addition to South-East Asia.

At the 21st ICA Congress held at Lausanne, Switzerland, in October 1960, a Long - Term Technical Assistance Programme was drawn up which defined the role of the Alliance in the field of technical assistance to the low-income countries of the world. The plan for the establishment of a Regional Office for South-East Asia and an Education Centre at New Delhi, which had already been approved by the ICA Executive, was reported to the ICA Congress held at Lausanne.

The ICA Regional Office & Education Centre [ICA ROEC] was opened on November 14, 1960 by late Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, first Prime Minister of India. Jawaharlal Nehru was one of the foremost leaders, along with Gandhi, of the Freedom Struggle in India. He also played a leading role in the emergence of independence of several colonized countries of Asia and Africa. He was also instrumental in forging a Nonaligned Countries Movement. His strong support of the Co-operative Movement and his appreciation of the ICA’s efforts to spread it were expressed in his memorable inaugural address delivered extempore at the Regional Seminar on ‘Co-operative Leadership in South-East Asia’ held at New Delhi.

First Regional Office of ICA

ICA ROEC was the first to be set up by the ICA. It was the precursor and a model for other regional offices to be set up in Africa and Latin America and Europe.

At the beginning, the Regional Office and the Education Centre functioned as separate institutions under a Regional Officer and Director respectively. Although separate institutions they worked in close collaboration with each other. To ensure further coordination, the Regional Office and Education Centre were merged in the autumn of 1963 into one institution called the ICA Regional Office & Education Centre. The Regional Officer was placed in charge of the amalgamated institution. The designation of the head of the institution was changed to Regional Director in 1970.

In view of the commendable work done by the Office and in consideration of the demands made by co-operators from the Region at various fora and taking into account the discussions held at subsequent ICA Congresses the scope and area of operations of the institution were expanded gradually to cover all the countries in Asia and the Pacific region – developed and developing. During 1960-1963 it was called ICA Regional Office for South-East Asia, from 1963 to 1990 it was called ICA Regional Office for Asia and since 1990 it is known as International Cooperative Alliance Asia Pacific [ICA-AP]. The ICA-Asia Pacific is presently located in New Delhi.