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National Service Scheme



In India, the idea of involving students in the task of national service dates back to the times of Mahatma Gandhi, the father of the nation.  The central theme which he tried to impress upon his student audience time and again, was that they should always keep before them their social responsibility. The first duty of the students should be, not to treat their period of study as one of the opportunities for indulgence in intellectual luxury, but for preparing themselves for final dedication in the service of those who provided the sinews of the nation the national goods & services so essential to society. Advising them to form a living contact with the community in whose midst their institution is located, he suggested that instead of undertaking academic research about economic and social disability, the students should do “something positive so that the life of the villagers might be raised to a higher material and moral level”.
The post –independence era was marked by an urge for introducing social service for students, both as a measure of educational reform and as a means to improve the quality of educated manpower. The University Grants Commission headed by Dr. Radhakrishnan recommended introduction of national service in the academic institutions on a voluntary basis with a view to developing healthy contacts between the students and teachers on the one hand and establishing a constructive linkage between the campus and the community on the other hand.
The idea was again considered by the Central Advisory Board of education (CBSE) at its meeting held in January ,1950. After examining the various aspects of the matter and in the light of experience of the other countries in this field, the Board recommended that students should devote some time to manual work on a voluntary basis and that the teachers should also associate with them in such work.  In the draft First Five-year Plan adopted by the Government of India in 1952, the need for social and labour service for students for one year was further stressed. Consequent upon this, labour and social service camps, campus work projects, village apprenticeship schemes etc., were put into operation by various educational institutions.  In 1958, the then Prime Minister Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in his letter to the Chief Ministers, mooted the idea of having social service as a prerequisite for graduation.  He further directed the Ministry of Education to formulate a suitable scheme for introduction of national service into the academic institutions.
In 1959, a draft outline of the scheme was placed before the Education Ministers Conference.  The conference was unanimous about the urgent need for trying out a workable scheme for national service.  In view of the fact that education as it was imparted in schools and colleges, left something to be desired and it was necessary to supplement it with programmes which would arouse interest in the social and economic reconstruction of the country.  It was viewed that if the objectives of the scheme were to be realised, it was essential to integrate social service with the educational process as early as possible.  The Conference suggested the appointment of a committee to work out details of the proposed pilot project.  In pursuance of these recommendations, a National Service Committee was appointed under the Chairmanship of Dr. C.D Deshmukh on August 28, 1959 to make concrete suggestions in this direction.  The committee recommended that national service for a period of nine months to a year may be made compulsory for all students completing high school education and intending to enrol themselves in a college or a university.  The scheme was to include some military training, social service, manual labour and general education.  The recommendations of the Committee could not be accepted because of its financial implications and difficulties in implementation.
In 1960, at the instance of the Government of India, Prof. K.G. Saiyidain studied national service by students implemented in several countries of the world and submitted his report under the title “National Service for the Youth” to the Government with a number of recommendations as to what could be done in India to develop a feasible scheme of social service by students.  It was also recommended that social service camps should be open to students as well as non-students within the prescribed age group for better inter-relationship.
The Education Commission headed by Dr. D.S. Kothari (1964-66) recommended that students at all stages of education should be associated with some form of social service.  This was taken into account by the State Education Minister during their conference in April 1967 and they recommended that at the university stage, students could be permitted to join the National Cadet Corps (NCC) which was already in existence on a voluntary basis and an alternative to this could be offered to them in the form of a new programme called the National Service Scheme (NSS).  Promising sportsmen, however, should be exempted from both and allowed to join another scheme called the National Sports Organisation (NSO), in view of the need to give priority to the development of sports and athletics.
The Vice Chancellors’ Conference in September, 1969 welcomed this recommendation and suggested that a special committee of Vice Chancellors could be set up to examine this question in detail.  In the statement of national policy one education of the Government of India, it was laid down that work experience and national service should be an integral part of education. In May, 1969, a conference of the students’ representatives of the universities and institutions of higher learning convened by the Ministry of Education and the University Grants Commission also unanimously declared that national service could be a powerful instrument for national integration.  It could be used to introduce urban students to rural life.  Projects of permanent value could also be undertaken as a symbol of the contribution of the student community to the progress and upliftment of the nation.
The details were soon worked out and the Planning Commission sanctioned an outlay of Rs.5 crores for National Service Scheme (NSS) during the Fourth Five Year Plan.  It was stipulated that the NSS programme should be started as a pilot project in select institutions and universities.
On September 24, 1969, the then Union Education Minister Dr. V.K.R.V. Rao, launched the NSS programme in 37 universities covering all states and simultaneously requested the Chief Ministers of States for their cooperation and help.  It was appropriate that the programme was started during the Gandhi Centenary Year as it was Gandhiji who inspired the Indian youth to participate in the movement for Indian independence and the social uplift of the downtrodden masses of our nation.
The cardinal principle of the programme is that it is organised by the students themselves and both students and teachers through their combined participation in social service, to get a sense of involvement in the tasks of national development. Besides, the students, particularly, obtain work experience which might help them to find avenues of self-employment or employment in any organisation at the end of their university career.
Development of the Personality of Students through Community Service.
The broad objectives of NSS are to:
  • Understand the community in which they work
  • Understand themselves in relation to their community;
  • Identify the needs and problems of the community and involve them in problem solving process;
  • Develop among themselves a sense of social and civic responsibility;
  • Utilise their knowledge in finding practical solution to individual and community problems;
  • Develop competence required for group living and sharing of responsibilities;
  • Gains skills in mobilising community participation;
  • Acquire leadership qualities and democratic attitude;
  • Develop capacity to meet emergencies and natural disasters and
  • Practice national integration and social harmony.
The motto or watchword of the National Service Scheme is:
                 ‘NOT ME BUT YOU’
This reflects the essence of democratic living and upholds the need for selfless service and appreciation of the other person’s point of view and also to show consideration for fellow human beings. It underlines that the welfare of an individual is ultimately dependent on the welfare of society on the whole.  Therefore, it should be the aim of the NSS  to demonstrate this motto in its day programme.
The symbol of the National Service Scheme, as appearing on the cover page of this Manual is based on the ‘Rath ‘wheel of the Konark Sun Temple situated in Orissa. These giant wheels of the Sun Temple portray the cycle of creation, preservation and release, and signify the moment in life across time and space.  The design of the symbol, a simplified form of the Sun-chariot wheel primarily depicts movement. The wheel signifies the progressive cycle of life. It stands for continuity as well as change and implies the continuous striving of NSS for social transformation and upliftment.

The NSS symbol is embossed on the NSS badge.  the NSS volunteers wear it while undertaking any programme of community service. The Konark wheel in the symbol has eight bars which represent the 24 hours of the day.  Hence,   the badge reminds the wearer to be ready for service of the nation round  the clock i.e., for 24 hours. The red colour in the badge   indicates that the NSS volunteers are full of blood i.e., lively, active, energetic and full of high spirit. The navy-blue colour indicates the cosmos of which the NSS is a tiny part, ready to contribute its share for the welfare of mankind.
Since the National Service Scheme is aimed at developing the personality of NSS volunteers through community service, hence, all NSS activities provide an opportunity to NSS volunteers to involve themselves in community service.
Participation in NSS Programme/Training
A student enrolled as NSS volunteers will have to put in 120 hours for community work in a year for a period of 2 years.  He /she is likely to participate in different programmes and projects under NSS. The distribution of 120 hours on NSS activities is given as under: –
  1. Each NSS volunteer who joined NSS will undergo an orientation in the NSS programme for 20 hours out of 120 hours. The 20 hours meant for orientation will further be divided as general orientation- 2 hours; special orientation -8 hours and Programme skill learning-10 hours. During the general orientation the NSS volunteers will get to know the history and growth of the NSS programme, aims, objectives and other basic concepts.
  2. After the general orientation is completed, the students will be given special orientation where information regarding the realities of life pertaining to the community and its problems. Volunteers will be encouraged to know more about the problems of village/urban slums and will be oriented for the schemes which are sponsored by the Government agencies and voluntary organisations in the field of community services.
iii.      The 3rd place of orientation will consist of developing programme skills which are essential for community work and completion of NSS projects.


Duties of NSS volunteer
  1. To establish rapport with the people in the project area;
  2. Identity needs, problems and resource
  3. Plan programmes and carry out the plans:
  4. Relate learning and experience towards finding solutions to the problems identified; and
  5. Record the activities in work diary systematically and assess the progress  periodically and effect changes, as and when needed
Code of Conduct for NSS Volunteers
  1. All volunteers shall work under the guidance of a group leader nominated by the Programme Officer.
  2. They shall make themselves worthy of the confidence and co-operation of the group/community leadership
  3. They shall scrupulously avoid entering into any controversial issues.
  4. They shall keep day-to-day record of their activities/experience in the enclosing pages of the diary and submit to the Programme Officer for guidance
  5. It is obligatory on the part of every volunteers to wear the NSS BADGE while on work
An NSS volunteer who has completed 240 hours of regular activities in the period of 2 years and attended one annual special camp, will be issued an NSS certificate by the respective university.
Special Camping forms an integral part of the National Service Scheme. It has special appeal to the youth as it provides unique opportunities to the students for group living, collective experience sharing and constant for group living, collective experience sharing and constant interaction with community.  Concerted efforts have to be made for a number of years for reconstruction activities in rural areas and urban slums for improving the living conditions of economically and socially weaker sections of the community.  Institutions having NSS have a special role to play in collaboration with other Departments and local authorities engaged in Development work.  They should adopt a village or group of villages/ urban slums for intensive social development, where special camps are organised by them year after year to create tangible and durable community assets.