Like every professional course, social work too requires the student/trainee to work in a professional setup and learn on the practical field and sharpen all the skills and knowledge acquired in the classroom. I got the opportunity to do this for one month in the Delhi office of an international development organization. It was a nice time working with the organization in a completely different community setup from what I am used to, that is, the urban community.
The mission and the vision of the organization really attracted me a lot. Because they want to make a world without poverty and injustice; a world in which every woman, man and girl and boy enjoy the right to life with dignity. I also liked their approach to the whole community, giving equal attention to men, women, youth, and children. To achieve their objectives they are implementing different plans and projects very systematically.
Another thing that attracted me a lot is the utilization of the RTI (Right to Information) Act for the community purpose. Compared to the north eastern region of the country they are taking the benefit of the act at the fullest. I personally witnessed the benefits that the community is getting from the use of this act, and the agency is successful in empowering the community by using this act.
The project to which I was assigned focused on the Right to Food and the Right to Education. After working a month in New Delhi I have observed the NGO sector in a broad way. There are some areas where I personally feel that some of the NGOs should reflect deeply on the works that they are doing. For example agencies which have a rights based approach are guiding the community people to get their identity proof from the government. From the community itself I came to know that majority of these people are migrated from other places outside of our country. If the situation remains the same and this NGO sector supports and helps them with proof of Indian identity, will not this be a threat to our country, our nationality? How long we can feed illegal migrants in our country? These NGOs are one the one hand criticizing the government by saying that the government machinery is corrupt; but on the other hand, I feel they are undermining the interest of the country by what they do. Though social work is for all, irrespective of age, sex, religion etc., I think there should be some boundaries or limits; or it is the time to change few principles, values and ethics of social work. States like Tripura, Assam, Meghalaya are facing so many problems because of the migration problem. It is time for all NGOs to wake up to do some interventions in this issue before it becomes out of control.
Social work is a profession aiming at empowerment of people. The agency where I worked is doing a great job in mobilizing the people to gain their rights. But in the same area there are other organizations which are focusing on giving short time material supports in different areas like education, housing and health, because of which people not interested in demanding their rights from the government. So I feel that either there is a need to change the values and ethics of social work or the way these organizations are working. Because they even don’t know till when they can facilitate the people -till the end of the project? That is 3 years, 5 years or 10-15 years? After that who will carry on the work? Or they have to wait for another project or another agency? By these activities people are becoming more dependent than empowered.
(These reflections are based on complete personal views and experiences, there is no intention to criticize or evaluate anyone or anybody and their respective profession.)—Aditya Bhatta, MSW 3rd SEM, 2010.