Co-operative movement is quite well established in India. The first legislation on co-operation was passed in 1904. In 1914 the Maclagen committee envisaged a three tier structure for co-operative banking viz. Primary Agricultural Credit Societies (PACs) at the grass root level, Central Co-operative Banks at the district level and State Co-operative Banks at state level or Apex Level. The first urban co-operative bank in India was formed nearly 100 years back in Baroda.
Co-operative Institutions are engaged in all kinds of activities namely production, processing, marketing, distribution, servicing, and banking in India and have vast and powerful superstructure. Co-operative Banks are important cogs in this structure.
In the beginning of 20th century, availability of credit in India, more particularly in rural areas, was almost absent. Agricultural and related activities were starved of organised, institutional credit. The rural folk had to depend entirely on the money lenders, who lent often at usurious rates of interest.
The co-operative banks arrived in India in the beginning of 20th Century as an official effort to create a new type of institution based on the principles of co-operative organisation and management, suitable for problems peculiar to Indian conditions. These banks were conceived as substitutes for money lenders, to provide timely and adequate short-term and long-term institutional credit at reasonable rates of interest.
In the formative stage Co-operative Banks were Urban Co-operative Societies run on community basis and their lending activities were restricted to meeting the credit requirements of their members. The concept of Urban Co-operative Bank was first spelt out by Mehta Bhansali Committee in 1939 which defined on Urban Co-operative Bank . Provisions of Section 5 (CCV) of Banking Regulation Act, 1949 (as applicable to Co-operative Societies) defined an Urban Co-operative Bank as a Primary Co-operative Bank other than a Primary Co-operative Society were made applicable in 1966.
With gradual growth and also given philip with the economic boom, urban banking sector received tremendous boost and started diversifying its credit portfolio. Besides giving traditional lending activity meeting the credit requirements of their customers they started catering to various sorts of customers viz.self-employed, small businessmen / industries, house finance, consumer finance, personal finance etc.