NSS Day is celebrated across India on the 24th of September each year when we look at the functioning of NSS and deliberate why it’s much more than what it had been reduced to.
National Service Scheme was launched in 1969: Mahatma Gandhi’s birth centenary year, on 24th September in 37 universities with the aim to involve undergraduates for campus-community linkage. Till date, NSS has more than 3.2 million student volunteers on its roll spread over 298 universities. The University of Delhi came under the aegis of this program in the year it started as a nationwide campaign, in 1969 and has since received 14,500 volunteer enrolments annually.
Many colleges under DU include NSS as one of the compulsory societies that a student is required to choose from, along with NSO and NCC as other options. Those who opt for NSS have to ensure a minimum number of hours for clearance and certificates, the number depending college wise. Daulat Ram College, Miranda House, Jesus and Mary College are a few such examples. However, many colleges have digressed from this practice and have maintained NSS as a voluntary association.
DU Beat got in touch with two such colleges, Hindu College and Hansraj College to record their views. Sikha Jaiswal, President, NSS Hindu College was of the view that NSS shouldn’t be made compulsory and described examples of their initiatives. According to her, the value of community service can only be installed to a certain degree as only a select few people come forward out of thousands to volunteer for anything that requires extra efforts. She went on to describe that around 700-800 students applied this year, out of which they could select up to 300. This is in stark comparison to those colleges where the NSS roll is above 1500. Similarly, Tanuja, the head of NSS Hansraj College’s Education wing, Padhaku, said, “From my experience of being a part of NSS for 3 years, I have realised that social service can never be forced, it is a driving force induced from within. It requires toil and commitment, and more importantly the ability to empathize with others.”
The motto of NSS is “Not me, but you”, which aims to create a sense of selfless service and appreciation in the youth. If we keep associating NSS with clearance hours, we’re simply diluting its significance and restricting social outreach programs as a brownie point on the CV only. The Ministry of Health and Rural Development (MHRD) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports, regularly issue program guidelines to the NSS Centre, albeit most of which are dull and need to be modified to engage the youth. To improve the functioning of NSS at grass-root levels, more funds need to be allotted and incentive programs need be introduced for top performing colleges or universities to give volunteers the appreciation they deserve.
Feature image credits: Wiki Media Commons