Rabindra Nath Tagore once said – “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”
The disparity and divide between the privileged and the underprivileged gave rise to the evolution of social service in the 19th Century. This was an era where the poor were considered a direct threat to the social order. The states of UK and USA were the nations which engineered an organized system to take care of them. The aim of this system was to understand the struggle of the society and to deal with its resultant problems. Even before that there have been many preachers such as Buddha and Vardhamana Mahavira, Jesus who were responsible for helping people propagate important values and break the existing mindsets towards social service.
Since its genesis, social service currently occupies a very crucial role in defining and shaping up the modern society. With the advent of time and the growth of science & technology caused a major transition for the society. Thus, large sections of rural populations migrated to urban areas and afflicted the modern society with problems. This gave birth to social activism and the first major group to come out was the great missionary push supported by the Protestants denominations. They aimed to rid the society from plagues like poverty, prostitution, disease and other afflictions. With the passing of time Social service has grown in its stature and assumed newer and serious responsibilities.
With many corporations and affluent parts of the societies pooling in their resources to battle the growing issues of the society and make it a better place. Social service has been accepted as a fulltime course and many national and international organizations getting actively involved in professionalization of social service. Corporate groups like the Tata’s and missionaries like the Xavier’s have started TISS(Tata Institute of Social Sciences) and XISS(Xavier Institute of Social Service) respectively to propagate social awareness and to provide a concrete career in social service. In the modern context the problems of our society have become multiple and complex. The situation calls for a serious and organized involvement of the masses. The involvement of various NGO’s too is vital.
Many organizations like the Green peace, Helpage India, CRY, Amnesty International, Unicef, The Rotary and many others are constantly making their contribution in their own special ways. These organizers are pivotal in playing roles of pressure groups and help raise important issues like climate change, nuclear balance and diseases like AIDs. Social service is today not only a very noble profession it’s a paying one as well, with plenty of opportunities for Doctors, Management graduates and others fields of academia to do something worthwhile and earn. Though the growing concern in case of the burgeoning of these institutions is whether these organizations are competent to fulfill the growing requirements of the society. It certainly cannot be denied that social service which was only concerned with a benevolent few, now touches the life of many and provides opportunities for even the common man to contribute through purchase of products, and other campaigns initiated by the many News media houses through both the print as well as the visual media. In recent times the awareness campaigns launched by the Times of India’s like the “Teach India” have been immensely successful in contributing to increase the literacy rate in India.
As a field it is still an evolving area of study and practice. The youth of today have more than one able idols in the likes Mother Teresa, Mahatma Gandhi, Rabindranath Tagore, Baba Amte to name a few, and with the foray of major Sports, Media and Corporate personalities getting involved for various causes in the present is another reason for the field to be a popular on in recent times. With encouragement from the government and the rousing interest of the people is heartening to see. But there is an urgent need of a regulation and monitoring and further strengthening and reinforcement of NGO’s and other organizations. Just funding is not enough, planning and execution of ideas is also important. In context to recent times there has to be moral policing and proper supervision of the groups involved as specially in context to India there are a lot a religious self help groups which have been involved in nefarious criminal activities which claim to provide social service. This is the flipside of this field. In the coming times the problems that the society will encounter would be even more complex, but if the power of social service can be harnessed properly, it could certainly make a huge difference to the world.