Of late we hear many people saying that they are doing social service. What exactly does this mean? What kind of social service is wanted and desirable? Is it not the duty of the government to take care of the needs of its citizens? If so, is there any need for some individuals and organizations to enter this field?
In every democracy, and especially in a socialistic democracy, there is a great responsibility on the government to provide social facilities and take care of the general welfare of its citizens. In our country, our government is also looking after a number of welfare activities. It provides education and medical care. Welfare of he downtrodden and the handicapped is also taken care of.
All these activities cannot be termed social service as government is doing all these as a part of its welfare programme. Therefore social service shall mean something else, which is undertaken either by and individual or by an organization. Service could be that which is rendered for some payment. But social service is that which is done voluntarily, without expecting any reward or payment or recognition.
Any help rendered on these lines by and individual or organization to the needy could be termed social service.
For example, Mother Teresa had started her mission of service to take care of the orphan children. The Andhra Mahila Sabha is rendering invaluable service to women. These could be termed as examples of social service.
We have the negative side of the picture also. Some interested and self seeking gentlemen and ladies, who are rich and who could afford to spend, start institution of various kinds in the name of social service. That is a move to get social recognition and respect from the public. In many such cases they are individual based. They start social service for a purpose and after their purpose is served they either close it up or start exploitation.
There are reputed organizations like the Rotary Club, the Lions Club, Sri Satya Sai Baba Mission, Ramakrishna Mission etc, who are doing valuable service to society in the name of social service. All religions have said that service to mankind is service to God. Hence selfless service to humanity at large may be termed as actual social service.
A programme, called N.S.S. (National Social Service) has been started in colleges and universities involving young boys and girls. In schools there are already movements like Bharat Scouts and Guides and Junior Red Cross wings doing social service. The N.S.S. goes to villages to help the rural folk in the fields of education, construction of roads and tanks, and to teach them hygienic methods.
There are still many areas where individuals can do a lot of social service by simply appealing to the minds of people. They are (1) prohibition, (2) anti-dowry system, (3) eradication of illiteracy, (4) village sanitation, (5) rural upliftment, (6) medical care etc, in villages.
We find many foreigners undertaking social service programmes in the fields of medical care, education and welfare of he handicapped. We now have to decide as to how long we have to depend on foreigners for solving our problems. It is high time that we learn to serve our brethren without depending on foreign funds or foreign personnel. We should inspire our youth to dedicate themselves in the service of the nation.