Social Work Foot Prints, 4 (4)
Social work in India has three components: clinical social work (in particular, psychiatric social work), developmental social work (or development work), and social action (for social justice and social equity) according to Prof. T.K. Nair. The present book contains ten articles from social work practitioners and social work scholars who critically analyse the different dimensions of social work practice and education.
“Philosophy of Social Work in Changing India”, by late Professor M.V. Moorthy traces the philosophy of social work in India from ancient times to the modern era. He observes rightly that theory and practice should go hand in hand; but behind theory and practice there should be philosophy to give tone, tenor and temper to the profession. Prof. Moorthy adds: “Whatever may be the line of development followed by professional social work in the West, we in India cannot ignore the ethical contents and spirit of social work profession”.
Professor Henry D’ Souza’s article “Social Justice in India: Reflections” focuses on redistributive justice because the lack of it reinforces injustice in gender, religion, caste and tribe. He describes in detail poverty, slavery and bonded labour, corruption and bribery in India. He says that social justice struggles in our diverse, complex and largest democracy will need to continue fearlessly and with relentless determination. He is not optimistic of the effectiveness of social work profession in promoting social justice though some social workers educated in the schools of social work may commit themselves to serve the vulnerable and poor by engaging themselves in organizing local communities, and initiating struggles for social and economic justice.
“Evolutionary Excellence in Social Work” by Sampath and Kalpana Sampath underscores the conviction of the authors that individuals and institutions strive towards excellence. To align individual and organizational values, a continuous clarification process is essential which should ideally involve the ability to “connect, correlate and create”. For any individual or organization, excellence is an ongoing process. When individuals and institutions pursue excellence, they make a difference to themselves and to those around them.
Dr. Shanthi Ranganathan has devoted her whole life for treatment and rehabilitation of alcoholics and other substance addicts under the auspices of the TTK Hospital, which she founded, for which she was awarded the Padma Shri and the UN Vienna Civil Society Award. In the article, “Substance Use Disorders and Social Work Interventions”, she explains in detail the measures for prevention of substance use disorders, early identification and enhancing motivation, treatment and followup. Besides individualized therapy, family therapy is arranged to reinforce the rehabilitation process. Professional social work has been given a key role in TTK hospital, a global leader in the treatment of substance use disorders (SUDs) as the founder - director herself is a social worker. But Dr. Shanthi says that schools of social work give low preference to training of social workers with skills needed to work with persons with SUDs.
CAP Foundation, a social enterprise, founded in 1997 by Dr. Nalini Gangadharan, believes that skill development is the key for empowerment of young men and women. Her article “Poverty Alleviation through Skill Building : A Social Work Initiative” presents the CAP model of “Linking Learning and Livelihood” needs of working children and youth to equitable market-oriented employability opportunities. CAP’s vision is to be an end - to - end community – based solutions provider in quality education to build safer, healthier and productive communities of young people capable of supporting self- directed growth and positive citizenship. Till 2013, CAP Foundation has trained 2, 54,395 young persons in 15 states and it has international presence in 8 locations.CAP Foundation is an illustration of the developmental social work initiative.
Ms.Annie Namala has been actively involved in promoting social equity and protecting Dalit human rights for more than three decades. Annie Namala’s article “Promoting Social Justice, Human Rights and Empowerment” discusses in details the rights violations. Dalit communities continue to face caste - based violence despite the prohibition of untouchability and all forms of caste - based disabilities. On education and social inclusion, the article refers to the poor implementation of the various government provisions and schemes. Ms. Annie points out that social work studies need to constantly engage in a praxis process between theoretical instruction and field action. She wants the schools to engage field practitioners to be part of their faculty for periods of time.
Professor B. Devi Prasad, in his article “Voluntary Sector and Professional Social Work: Trends and Challenges” makes a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis of both the sectors. The strengths of the voluntary sector are the diversity of areas covered by the sector; the innovative role by experimenting and promoting new areas of development work; and the closeness to people. The weaknesses of the voluntary sector include suspected allegiance of foreign - funded organizations; absence of transparency and credibility of many organizations; and uncertainty of regular funding support. The strengths of professional work according to Devi Prasad are its professional base with a track record of performance globally; sound knowledge base; and accountability to society. The weaknesses include the deteriorating quality of professional social work education; and the ideological deficit. On social work education, Devi Prasad comments that it is “a sea of mediocrity with islands of excellence and visibility”.
Professor R.R. Singh’s article “Education for Professional Social Work in India: Overview” critically looks at the education for professional social work in the context of the changing perspectives of the profession, proliferation of social work institutions, problems in the maintenance of standards, less availability of senior faculty for professional socialization of students, and variations in courses and credits. Dr. Singh examines almost all aspects of social work education in India in this article with authority. R.R. Singh observes that the proliferation of such institutions is indeed a threat to the quality of professional social work education and practice. Most of these are self serving institutions which are not preparing competent professionals to serve society.
In the article “Should We Re-think the Nature of Social Work?”,Dr. M.Nadarajah is of the view that social work, as a mode of engagement, is an expression of our compassionate sentiment, born out of our sociability, and it is essentially directed at those in need of help. Dr. Nadarajah states that social work today is a profession in the economy and job market. It has also been commodified, bringing it within the universe of profit motive. While social work has the features, in relation to addressing human misery, it has also assumed features that are towards profit maximization. In as much as it is in this orientation, there must be a constant supply of human misery. The general effort of professional social work as an institution will not be directed at social prevention but towards curative activities, much like how the medical industry works. Dr. Nadarajah is of the view that society where people engage at all levels to address human suffering and consider radical structural reforms and prevention would not be in the interest of modern, professionalized social work.
Professor T.K. Nair, in his article “Humanitarianism Professionalized: Dilemmas of Social Work in India”, traces the history of social work profession and social work education. The proliferation of social work courses under different auspices; the dominance of HR (human resources) concentration in the social work curricula; the unwillingness of social work educational institutions to focus on social work without HR; the deteriorating quality of social work education in most institutions; the lack of practice-based research by the practitioners as well as the faculty; the absence of regulatory bodies of social work education and practice; and related issues are discussed by Prof. Nair in his article. He comes to the conclusion that social work is not a profession in India.
My joining the Madras School of Social Work for the postgraduate programme was with the confidence that the Postgraduate Diploma would enable me to get into the Personnel Department of an industry, which I secured on completion of the social work course. After working in industries for some years, I decided to accept an offer from the newly established corporate hospital (Apollo Hospital) at Chennai to head its Human Resource Department. Subsequently I was promoted as General Manager (Operations), which gave me a tremendously valuable experience in building and developing a hospital. I, then, shifted my base to Hyderabad, where I worked as Vice-President of a major hospital. At that time, I decided to start a hospital of my own. During one of my regular interactions with Prof. T. K. Nair at Chennai, he suggested to enter into the field of ageing. Prof. Nair was at that time active in promoting community based services for the elderly. He presented a grand design for me including President ship of the International Federation on Ageing. At that time, I was quite skeptical of the feasibility of his advice but as destiny would have it, I started the Heritage Hospital for the elderly. Incidentally, Prof .Nair was the one who suggested the title Heritage for my initiatives. I was invited to speak at the White House Conference on Ageing in 2005. I became President of the International Federation on Ageing before I turned 60. I travelled to many countries as IFA president. I was one of the members of a panel Open-ended Working Group on Ageing. I am invited as a resource person by UN ESCAP and WHO SEAR in many of their regional meeting of experts on ageing. The government of India invited me to be a member of the committee to redraft the National Policy on Senior Citizens. I was a Member of the National Council of Older Persons during 2006-2011. I was a member of the Andhra Pradesh State Advisory Council to implement the National Policy on Older Persons. Now I am active in health care, social welfare policy, and social work administration. A transformation from HR Management to Human Welfare and Social Work.
The present book edited by Prof. Nair looks at social work profession in India from an incisively critical perspective. Personally, I am happy that the book includes an article from my wife Nalini on the work she has been doing in the area of skill development. Professionally, I rate this volume as an excellent one for the future direction of social work.
Dr. K.R.Gangadharan, PhD.
Creator, Heritage Hospital for the Elderly
Former President, IFA