Special Articles / T.K. Nair / Social Work Profession in India: An Uncertain Future
Social work as a profession arose in the context of capitalism to mitigate the ills caused by it. It had its origin in the nineteenth century with the emergence of a philosophy of “scientific charity” which stated that charity should be “secular, rational and empirical as opposed to sectarian, sentimental and dogmatic” (Huff, 1997)1. Social work profession grew out of the Charity Organization Societies (COS) in England (1869) and the United States of America (1877). The COS in Britain adopted a punitive approach by using the “scientific case work method” to distinguish between the “deserving” poor to determine who would use appropriately the financial help given, and the “undeserving” poor. The practice of case work was considered the “antithesis of mass or socialistic measures” like the provision of free school meals and old age pensions (Ferguson, 2009). The first social workers in England were called hospital almoners. The Royal Free Hospital hired the first almoner in 1895. The first professional social worker to be hired in the United States was in 1905 at the Massachusetts General Hospital.
Special Articles / R.R. Singh / Social Work Profession in India: An Uncertain Future
Changing Perspectives in Professional Social Work
Since the first decade of the twentieth century when training for social workers and subsequently formal education in a few Universities in the United States started, perspectives on social work have changed. The following two definitions of social work and the other on social work practice bring out clearly this shift:
Special Articles / M. Nadarajah / Social Work Profession in India: An Uncertain Future
In 1979, I joined a course in MA social work at the Madras School of Social Work (MSSW), specializing in community development. I left the course in a year’s time having become disenchanted with the programme: I experienced a conflict inside me between my classroom and fieldwork experiences. My fieldwork in the slums of Madras (now Chennai) showed me dynamics that were increasingly not covered in the classroom. Increasing tension between theory of social work and social work practice led me to consider other ways to serve or work with individuals and communities. This and for a number of other reasons, I left the course.
Special Articles / B. Devi Prasad / Social Work Profession in India: An Uncertain Future
Voluntary sector and professional social work share certain common goals and concerns though they are two different worlds in terms of the nature and the background of the respective fields. Social work profession is a systematic evidence-based practice with a sense of commitment and a value base. Voluntary sector comprises legally valid, non-profit voluntary initiatives by people in social spaces for a common or a public purpose2. In the present day globalised and highly interconnected world, both fields are facing challenges to keep their programmes and activities competitive and relevant. While voluntary sector is one of the major recruiters of the professional social workers, the sector’s growing visibility and importance is a challenge to the profession indirectly.
Special Articles / Annie Namala / Social Work Profession in India: An Uncertain Future
Foundations Laid in the College
The caste system is a detailed well laid social structure of graded inequalities that assign privileges and rights as one goes up the ladder and obligations and duties as one goes down the ladder (Ambedkar,1968). The system sanctions, practices and perpetrates human rights violations as segregation, humiliation, abuse, physical and sexual violence, caste based occupation, obligatory duties, economic exploitation and exclusion from decision making against Dalit communities1 (Scheduled Castes) that fall at the bottom of the hierarchy and are considered ‘outcastes’. They are considered polluted and polluting, and are excluded from social, economic and educational rights with little possibility for social mobility and change. In addition, the caste based beliefs in untouchability, purity and pollution prohibit social relationships and interface between Dalits and other social groups, succeeding to exclude them from the larger society. Caste based inequities and disabilities are also reflected in the social, economic and educational status of other social groups –Tribals2, Nomadic Tribes, Denotified Tribes, Minorities especially Muslims, and even some Other Backward Classes. In the case of Dalit women, and women from other marginalized communities caste principles operate together with patriarchy and weave a complex web of poverty and disabilities around them.
Special Articles / Henry J D'Souza / Social Work Profession in India: An Uncertain Future
“I do not long for kingdom, heaven or rebirth, but I wish to alleviate the sufferings of the unfortunate” proclaims Yudhishtira in Mahabharata1. The Upanishads state, “Let all be happy and healthy, let all be blessed with happiness and let none be unhappy.” Such quotes, cited rarely, can indeed form the basis of a Hindu liberation theology of Dharma and significantly validate the struggle for economic and social justice for the poor and suffering millions of India. To be sure, it is astonishing that the Supreme Court of India’s justices chose to cite these quotes in its 1997 historic decision, Samatha vs. Govt. of Andhra Pradesh (Ramaswamy, Ahmad, & Pattanaik, 1997, p.26), which essentially upholds the principle of social justice when the Government of Andhra Pradesh conspired to give extracting rights to transnational mining corporations, in the tribal lands protected under the Fifth and Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India. Samatha (means equality), the human rights organization working for the rights of the tribal groups in Andhra Pradesh, sought to stop corporate usurpation of tribal and Dalit (the term used to refer to the untouchable communities or the Scheduled Castes) lands to strip them of valuable extractive reserves, by its successful appeal to the Supreme Court. Since then, similar decisions have been issued prohibiting the corporate usurpation of tribal and Dalit lands in Andhra Pradesh (AP) and Rajasthan (Press Trust of India, 2012).
Special Articles / Nalini Gangadharan / Social Work Profession in India: An Uncertain Future
Skill building can be viewed as an instrument to improve the effectiveness and contribution of labour to the overall production. It is an important ingredient to push the production possibility frontier outward and to take growth rate of the economy to a higher trajectory. Skill building can also be seen as an instrument to empower the individual and improve the social acceptance or value.
Special Articles / Shanthi Ranganathan / Social Work Profession in India: An Uncertain Future
Alcohol and other psycho-active drugs that can lead to addiction are collectively referred to as ‘substances’. Substances like alcohol are viewed in some countries or cultures as legal whereas drugs like cannabis and heroin are considered illegal. Medically used drugs such as pain killers and sleeping tablets can also lead to addiction when used without the doctor’s advice or in a larger quantity or frequency than prescribed.
Special Articles / J.M.Sampath / Social Work Profession in India: An Uncertain Future
Social work is the professional activity of helping individuals, groups, or communities enhance or restore their capacity for social functioning and creating societal conditions favourable to this goal. Social work practice consists of the professional application of social work values, principles, and techniques to one or more of the following ends: helping people obtain tangible services; counselling and psychotherapy with individuals, families, and groups; helping communities or groups provide or improve processes (adopted by National Association of Social Workers). Service, social justice, dignity, integrity, and interpersonal relationships form the underlying values of social work orientations. Social work promotes social change and problem-solving and enables the wellbeing of people through empowerment and liberation. Social workers are required to serve as change agents and play a key role in influencing individuals, families, and the society they serve. Hence, the impact of any social initiative largely depends on the people driving and implementing it. The practice of social work requires knowledge of human development and behaviour; of social, economic, and cultural institutions; and of the interactions of all these factors. In this context, people’s maturity assumes great significance in driving social work practice towards excellence.
Special Articles / M.V. Moorthy / Social Work Profession in India: An Uncertain Future
Systematic thought and modern scientific practices regarding social work are of recent origin. In old tribal societies, the aged, the mentally feeble and the disabled were either cared for or neglected according to the affections, abilities or traditions of the groups. In some, the aged were respected and their advice sought, while in others they were considered a burden and were neglected. The disabled were disregarded and even killed off at birth.
your articles to
to publish in our website.
Our Other Websites
Receive email updates on the new books & offers
for the subjects of interest to you.