How relevent and impactful is the NSS is a  question that pressing, now more than ever.

The National Service Scheme (NSS) established by the Goverment of India in 1969, is close to completing 49 years now. While the NSS is well established across schools and colleges in the country, how true is it to its motto, is a question we need to ask. The main purpose of the NSS is to create a sense of leadership, and community awareness in the youth as they initiate welfare programs, and community service. Volunteers may have to be involved in activities such as: cleaning, afforestation, awareness rallies etc.

According to recent statistics, the number of students volunteering for it, were 3.8 million as of March 2018. While active participation is witnessed from colleges, there is ongoing criticism regarding NSS – is it effective in sparking the true benefits it promises to inculcate in the youth? There is a greater disparity in the rural to urban context, when taking a consensus of the NSS volunteers. While there is an active participation in the rural areas with foreseeable results, there has been a decline in the performance ratios in the urban sector. A reason for this change could be the rise of Non Govermental Organisations (NGOs) in the urban area which promise better welfare programmes and more widespread connections at the grass-root levels, that makes students reconsider their options regarding the welfare organisations.

Another thing to witness, is the rise of the ‘CV factor’ amongst college students these days. While it is a good thing to focus on things which will aid them in their careers ahead, students opt for social service organisations as an “accessory” to boost their CVs. Arpita Chhikara, a 2014 graduate from Jesus and Mary College states, “I joined NSS in 2011, as it was something I was really passionate about. I speak on behalf of my fellow members, at that time we joined it for a purpose, which was to ensure the welfare of the under-privileged. Would it look good on our college applications further or not, was a secondary thought.” Apeksha Jain, a second year B.Com Programme student of Shaheed Bhagat Singh College says, “On an individual level, I feel better working or partnering up with NGOs as I am accountable to them directly, and I am free to let things go their way according to both of our preferences. At the end of the day, you know the impact you make and it is a feel-good factor”.

As for the loss in the spirit of service in governmental organisations like NSS, a major question to be asked is, on whom can one place this accountability? Is it the students who are more performance oriented or is it the improper structure or the unclear hierarchies, which makes things confusing and reduces efficiency. Why is it that social welfare NGOs and other organisations are able to successfully meet their targets more effectively than governmental organisations? Another debate is the ongoing dilemma about choosing the right organisation in your college days, as there is hardly any uniqueness left in almost every welfare platform. They all are catering on similar lines, making it hard for students to decide which is the correct option for them. Social welfare and service have become integral in almost every organisation in this country and across the world.

Feature Image Credits: NSS

Avnika Chhikara
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