When this reporter asked a random guy from NSS about his experience being an 'NSS volunteer', he replied without an iota of hesitation "First of all, don't call me a volunteer because I am not voluntarily an NSS member. Regarding your question of experience, NSS work does not seem an extra academic activity at all when you have a mandatory 75% plus attendance. I have spent two years in NSS and still, could not understand the extent to which it is helping the students and villagers."
"Not me, but you" the tagline of the National Service Scheme aptly explains what it is for. Precisely, its objective is to help the students understand and relate to the community in which they exist. But the students' mindset towards NSS is quite different and it would not be an exaggeration of the fact that 90% of the students go to the NSS only for attendance and end up doing almost no work at the designated village which in some cases is more than ten kilometers from the institute.
The question persists, "Is it worth the efforts and trouble considering the manpower that we have?" A survey team member of NSS unit-6 says, "whenever we go to conduct the survey, the villagers tell angrily that you people have come again. You keep coming to ask questions but do nothing for us." Conducting surveys every year and despite knowing the problems that villagers face, they are not able to do something concrete for the villagers be it because of lack of proper planning or loss of interest. When we asked Professor D. Roy, the present NSS coordinator about this, he replied, "the students should come up with a solid idea and plan such as constructing a toilet block or putting up a water pump or spreading computer literacy and then we'd arrange the funds, but the works have to be done by the students only." Reiterating, the students do not seem interested in these things. Professor Roy also suggested, "you would not realize our efforts unless you go and compare our efforts with other institutes."
In other IITs
We accordingly did as suggested . Here are some of the findings which we got from the internet:
Here, we are certainly not belittling the efforts of NSS IIT Kharagpur and not trying to diminish the image of any entity or individual. Instead, we are trying to show that our ideas are a bit too conventional like toilet block construction (at Nachna village where students did not take part) or blood donation camps (low student attendance) or road constructions.
Poll Results and Analysis
Subsequently, our team conducted a poll about the relevance of NSS among the students of IIT KGP and the results were as expected. A major chunk (52%) of the students said that they wanted to work as devoted NSS members but only when the projects will be innovative rather than the conventional ones. 14% of students raised the issue of relaxing the second year students from the NSS duty citing the academic loads. While 13% of the students were not interested at all, 20% of them seemed more or less devoted to the social cause.
To view other poll results, go to :http://awaaziitkgp.org/poll.php
A rigorous analysis of the problems with NSS in our institute is blatantly needed. While the students are very much active on social media, they are losing their sense of social responsibility despite knowing the fact that the underprivileged are also contributing to the subsidy in their tuition fees. The method of allotment of NSS and NCC in the institute does not seem to be justified. The students should first be given a beforehand knowledge of every extra-academic activity and then allowed to choose a purposeful stream. Even if fewer students would opt for NSS, we may have some unique ideas cropping up. The NSS blog of IIT Kanpur says that less proportion of students opt for NSS (45 in 2012).
The next problem is the utilization of manpower and man-hour. A student, on the condition of keeping his name undisclosed, told the reporter that people in his unit reach the venue at 11 am and leave at 12:30 pm, write in the diary that they had worked from 10:30 to 1:30 or so. Although the first year students do some work like the plantation, teaching, surveying, etc. The second year students remain seated and gossip for the entire period. In NSS also, 'proxies' are not alien to the students. Comparing such nature of work with that of IIT Delhi, we came to know that 100 hours of dedicated work is necessary for the first two years at IIT-D and the work is closely monitored. If the assessment of the work is not satisfactory, the concerned member may be awarded a penalty of some negative hours.
There is always a Way!
In a nutshell, the NSS IIT Kharagpur can be run in an unexpectedly good manner if the administration pays attention to the aforesaid problems (including those intrinsic like fund collection, publicity, etc.) and finds proper solutions and if the students, in general, understand their social responsibility while using their time in some constructive work (if they are devoting some time) rather than wasting their time. The innovative ideas and plans for NSS are welcomed and the readers may write those in the comments section below or on our Facebook page or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.