In the last three issues of “Social Work Foot Steps”, articles have been published which give information on the beginning of social work education in Karnataka, at Roshani Nilaya Mangalore, at Bangalore and Karnataka Universities during the period of 1962 to 1971. This note attempts to provide additional information to complete the picture.
The first Post-Graduate Diploma Course in Social Work was started at St.Agnes College, Mangalore by Frances Maria Yasas, an American Citizen of Albanian origin, in 1958. After the first course was completed in 1960, it was discontinued, perhaps, due to lack of financial and institutional support, and also, may be, due to the departure of Ms.Yasas to complete her doctoral work on Mahatma Gandhi which she completed and submitted in 1963, to an University in U.S.A. I am not sure whether it was Loyola University at Chicago or some other University. I had met a graduate of this course at St.Agnes, Miss.Nair in 1961. She had come to meet me seeking my help in finding a job in the field of social work. As this diploma was unrecognized, I could only recommend Miss.Nair to a voluntary organisation, the Association for Moral and Social Hygiene in India. She got the job and worked for about 15 to 16 years in that organisation. Miss Nair was also active in the professional social work conferences and meetings in Delhi.
Dr.Yasas loved India and was an admirer of Gandhiji. She was a devout Christian. She was employed in UNESCAP- Social Welfare Division at Bangkok. I knew her very well. Perhaps, while in India for work on her doctoral dissertation, she chose to stay in a missionary institution in Mangalore, and that location and contact might have led to the starting of the course on social work at St.Agnes College.
Another initiative to start post graduate one-year diploma course in social work was by a private registered society in 1961-62. Captain Prasad who had done a ‘brief service in the army’, after his retirement from the military service, was running three or four nursery schools as a commercial venture, and made a living out of the income of these nursery schools. Perhaps, it struck him that there was a more lucrative avenue- post graduate social work course aimed at the industrial sector. He managed to get General K.M.Cariyappa to be the Patron of the Society, using his military service connection. And he also managed to find a prominent political personality – Devaraj Urs who was Labour Minister in S.Nijalingappa`s Cabinet during 1962-67. Captain Prasad was the Honorary General Secretary and also the honorary director of the institution, which he named as “National Institute of Social Sciences.
Not making much progress in this new venture, because of non-recruitment of full time professionally qualified social work teachers, he was on the lookout for a person who could be appointed as the director. Luckily he found one- Dr. K.V. Sridharan who had Diploma in Social Service administration from Tata Institute of Social Sciences and had worked at the newly established Madras School of Social Work for about 4years from 1953, and for a brief period was its Acting Director. Sridharan got a Full Bright scholarship to do his PhD. in social work at the University of Cleveland, Olio, U.S.A, around 1957-58 and returned in 1961 with his PhD. He was looking for a senior position in the field of social work education in India. Not succeeding in this, he took up employment as Co-ordinator of Cleveland International Youth Programme at the United States Education Foundation in India (USEFI) at New Delhi and worked for about five years in that position. Captain Prasad, ever resourceful, managed to contact Dr.K.V.Sridharan and offered him the position of the Director, National Institute of Social Sciences. Dr.Sridharan, keen to return to the field of social work education, accepted the offer and came to Bangalore in 1966-67. He tried to improve NISS by recruiting qualified social workers- one lady graduate from the Roshani Nilaya, and another young man a graduate of the Madras School of Social Work. He probably added one more teacher to the staff of NISS. He strove to raise the visibility and stature of NISS in the field of social work education and in the employment field.
Unfortunately, certain events arising out of the interference of the management in academic administrative matters led to the termination of his position as Director. The students went on strike, demanding his reinstatement as Director. No amicable settlement was found, with each side unwilling to yield from their stated position. After a few months, with Devaraj Urs as Chief Minister of Mysore (as it was then known) the government took over NISS and asked Bangalore University to run the p.g. social work course. Dr.H.Narasimhaiah was the Vice- Chancellor of Bangalore University. I do not know all the legal, technical details of this change. The p.g. department of social work was created by Bangalore University in 1971. Advertisements were issued in the newspapers for recruitment of the teachers for the Department of Social Work. All the former teachers of NISS were eligible to apply. Dr .K.V. Sridharan chose not to apply. Rest is history.