Dr Shubhra Jamwal
National Service Scheme (NSS) was introduced in 1969 with the primary objective of developing the personality and character of the students through voluntary community service. “Education through Service” is the purpose of the NSS. The ideological orientation of the NSS is inspired by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi—Father of the Nation. The NSS is a voluntary association of young people in the Universities, Colleges and at +2 level. The cardinal principle of the NSS programme is to get a sense of involvement in the task of nation building.
The objectives of NSS are to enable the students to understand the community in which they work; to understand themselves in relation to their community; to identify the needs and problems of the community and find the solution to them; to develop competence required for group living and sharing responsibilities; to acquire leadership qualities and democratic attitude and to encourage national integration and develop the capacity to meet emergencies and national disasters.
The motto of the National Service Scheme is ‘NOT ME BUT YOU’ and same is being demonstrated in day-to-day programmes by the NSS Programme Officers and volunteers across the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir. As NSS provides an opportunity to students in the capacity of volunteers to venture out of their comfort zones and make a difference to society more and more students are coming forward to join this community service programme in the length and breadth of the Union Territory.
As far as regular activities are concerned, the main focus remains on health awareness, to conduct awareness and personality development programmes, awareness on Swatch Bharat & Road Safety Rules, drug de-addiction, orientation programmes and environmental issues.
Under the guidance of heads of the respective Universities and Colleges of the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, the teams of NSS volunteers are conducting special camps to improve the students’ personality and make them to participate in social activities and contribute in the eradication of social evils prevailing in the society. In this way, the NSS volunteers are also getting benefited in the form of gaining leadership qualities. Likewise, enough attention is being paid towards extension activities by paying visits to the adopted villages and sensitizing the villagers about various social issues through discussions, debates, talks, seminars, workshops, street threatre and confluences.
Moreover, the NSS volunteers are undertaking numerous projects that focus on a broad spectrum of issues in different social spheres which include education for underprivileged children, caring for the elderly, intervention techniques for the differently-abled and intellectually challenged, working health centres associated with patients suffering from AIDS and cancers of various kinds, social entrepreneurship and women empowerment.
The activities of NSS volunteers are also focused on the empowerment of women. The women empowerment can be categorized into five parts-socially, educationally, economically, politically and psychologically. Social empowerment addresses the social discriminations and education, which is an instrument of personal development. Likewise, political empowerment helps the women in active participation in the decision making bodies and until and unless women are mentally strong and psychologically sound, they will not be able to overcome the hindrances in the path of their empowerment. The volunteers of NSS are regularly undertaking activities to make sure that women contribute to the growth and development of society around them and at the same time become aware of their rights in every field.
As per the studies conducted in the country, a significant difference has been found in the adolescence girls empowerment (power and entitlement) between NSS girl volunteers and non-NSS girls students; significant difference in the adolescence girls empowerment (autonomy and self-reliance ) between NSS girl volunteers and non-NSS girls students; a significant difference has been found in the adolescence girls empowerment (capacity building) between NSS girl volunteers and non-NSS girls students and significant difference in the total girls empowerment between NSS girl volunteers and non-NSS girls students.
In majority of the activities of NSS, the women empowerment remains on focus in one way or the other as while society grows and develops; women seem to be left behind particularly in the rural areas despite the fact that no community, business or organization is complete without women. Every woman has so much to contribute. The volunteers of NSS undertake activities to make sure that women contribute to the growth and development of society around them. We work to bring women to the forefront by organizing activities like self-defense workshops, health camps, skill development camps, generating awareness about social security schemes and their rights enshrined in the Constitution of India.
Further, NSS volunteers generate awareness among women about how and what role they should play to prevent crime against them-be it within the four walls of their houses, in the society and in the whatever field they work. Even regular events are organized particularly in the rural areas to discuss gender equality and the most interesting aspect is that majority of the NSS volunteers are the female students and this helps a lot in comfortable interaction with the women in the rural areas who otherwise shy from discussing issues with the males.
Women become the first victim of drug abuse in the society, which already has assumed alarming proportion even in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, as such NSS volunteers educate them about how to check this menace from spreading further and how to handle the drug addicts—be within their family or in the society, by timely seeking the help of Governmental agencies. It is really a matter of pride that we have large number of women Sarpanches, Block Development Council and District Development Council members and NSS volunteers are rubbing shoulders with them to make the women empowered in all the fields.
From my experience as NSS Programme Officer, I can easily claim that students who have joined and experienced NSS activities found personality integration in the areas of conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, optimistic, uniqueness and openness to experience.
(The author is Asstt Prof Higher Education Department, J&K and NSS PO)
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