National Service Scheme
(NSS) was introduced in 1969 with the primary objective of developing
the personality and character of the student youth through voluntary
community service. Initially it was launched in 37 Universities
involving about 40,000 volunteers. However, with the passage of time and
as a Pan Indian programme, the number of educational institutions
covered under NSS has been increasing year after year. Currently more
than 36.5 lakh volunteers are enrolled in 39,695 NSS units spread over
391 Universities/ +2 Councils, 16,278 Colleges and Technical
Institutions and 12,483 Senior Secondary Schools. Since its inception,
over 4.78 crore students have benefited from NSS.
Each NSS volunteer is required to put in minimum 120 hours of service
per year for two years, i.e., total 240 hours. This work is undertaken
in villages/ slums adopted by NSS unit or in school/ college campuses.
usually after study hours or during weekends/ vacations. Besides, Each
NSS unit organises a Special Camp of 7 days' duration in adopted
villages or urban slums during vacations, with some specific projects,
by involving the local communities. Each volunteer is required to
participate in the Special Camp once during the 2-year period. Thus,
about 50 percent of the NSS volunteers in a Unit participate in a
particular Special Camp.
NSS units can take up any activity that has relevant to the community.
The activities continue to evolve in response to the needs of the
community. The core activities could be in the field of education and
literacy, health, family welfare and nutrition, sanitation and
cleanliness, environment conservation, social service programmes,
programmes for improving status of women, production-oriented
programmes, disaster relief and rehabilitation, campaigning against
social evils, creating awareness about Flagship Programmes of the
Government like Digital India, Skill India, Promotion of Yoga etc.
NSS is a Central government programme. yet the Central government, the
States/UTs and the Educational Institutions are the 3 pillars of this
Programme. It would have been impossible to effectively run a programme
directly from the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, dealing
with over 29,000 educational institutions across the country. The
implementation of the programme has been possible due to effective
collaboration/ partnership between the Centre and the States on the one
hand and the States and Educational Institutions on the other.
As mentioned earlier, NSS was introduced with the primary objective of
developing the personality and character of the student youth 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. Very appropriately, the motto of NSS is “NOT
ME, BUT YOU”. An NSS volunteer places the ‘community’ before ‘self’.
This is part of the third dimension of education, namely, value
education, which is becoming increasingly important.
NSS volunteers have been making very valuable contribution to the
Society, besides developing their own personality. During the previous
year, NSS units organised 12,628 special camps in adopted villages/
slums across the country. NSS volunteers undertook 91 lakh
volunteer-hours of Shramadaan, donated 1.98 lakh units of blood and
planted over 13.27 lakh saplings. The volunteers were instrumental in
organising about 7,051 Health, Eye and Immunization camps and also
30,011 awareness programmes through rallies and campaigns on various
important government programmes and social issues. NSS volunteers
facilitated pulse polio immunization of about 6 lakh children. The
volunteers have been playing key role in Swachh Bharat Mission,
spreading digital literacy and in popularization of Yoga. On the
occasion of International Day of Yoga last year, about 11.19 lakh NSS
volunteers participated in yoga programmes across the country.
Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports is committed to expand NSS in a big
way. So far, the NSS covers less than 10% of the students eligible to
join it. Efforts are being made to increase funding support for NSS and
meanwhile, setting up of Self-Financing Units of NSS has also been
permitted. To encourage students to take up NSS, UGC has issued an
Advisory to all Universities to introduce NSS as an Elective subject
with credits. The Ministry has been rewarding good work done by NSS
volunteers by conferring Annual NSS Awards at national level, by
providing opportunities to NSS volunteers to participate in Republic Day
Parade, International Youth Delegations, Adventure Camps, etc.
While a lot of good work is being done under NSS, there is potential to
do much more. The students and NSS volunteers are young Indians and they
represent the most dynamic and vibrant section of the Society. These are
exciting times in India. The Government of India, under the dynamic
leadership of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has embarked on the
mission of building a united, strong and modern India – “Ek Bharat,
Shreshtha Bharat”, following the principle of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”.
A number of path-breaking initiatives have been taken. ‘Make in India’
campaign has been launched to develop India as a global manufacturing
hub. ‘Digital India’ initiative seeks to transform India into a
digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. A nation-wide
campaign to promote Digital Payments is underway. ‘Skill India’ has
being launched to impart necessary skills to prepare Indians for the
opportunities in Indian economy as also the opportunities abroad.
A number of initiatives, including Smart Cities Project, have been
launched for developing infrastructure. ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ and
‘Clean Ganga’ Mission have been launched for building a clean and green
India. A sustained and determined campaign is underway to eliminate the
black money and to clean up our Society. NSS volunteers can be
contributors as well as beneficiaries of these initiatives. The
programme design of NSS needs to constantly evolve to reflect the
priorities of the Government and the nation.
The importance of NSS was underlined in an Evaluation Study conducted
through Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). In their Study Report,
TISS concluded that NSS has been a well-intentioned and an ideologically
motivated scheme of the Government of India and that NSS is one of the
greatest experiments in the field of youth work in the world. In fact,
TISS recommended that NSS should be made mandatory for all public and
private funded universities, colleges and institutions and should be
integrated as part of the curriculum.
*Jt. Director(M&C), PIB, New Delhi