NSS: National Service Scheme, youth in nation building




National Service Scheme (NSS) was introduced in 1969 with the primary objective of developing the personality and character of the student youth through voluntary community service. Initially it was launched in 37 Universities involving about 40,000 volunteers. However, with the passage of time and as a Pan Indian programme, the number of educational institutions covered under NSS has been increasing year after year. Currently more than 36.5 lakh volunteers are enrolled in 39,695 NSS units spread over 391 Universities/ +2 Councils, 16,278 Colleges and Technical Institutions and 12,483 Senior Secondary Schools. Since its inception, over 4.78 crore students have benefited from NSS.

Each NSS volunteer is required to put in minimum 120 hours of service per year for two years, i.e., total 240 hours. This work is undertaken in villages/ slums adopted by NSS unit or in school/ college campuses. usually after study hours or during weekends/ vacations. Besides, Each NSS unit organises a Special Camp of 7 days' duration in adopted villages or urban slums during vacations, with some specific projects, by involving the local communities. Each volunteer is required to participate in the Special Camp once during the 2-year period. Thus, about 50 percent of the NSS volunteers in a Unit participate in a particular Special Camp.

NSS units can take up any activity that has relevant to the community. The activities continue to evolve in response to the needs of the community. The core activities could be in the field of education and literacy, health, family welfare and nutrition, sanitation and cleanliness, environment conservation, social service programmes, programmes for improving status of women, production-oriented programmes, disaster relief and rehabilitation, campaigning against social evils, creating awareness about Flagship Programmes of the Government like Digital India, Skill India, Promotion of Yoga etc.


NSS is a Central government programme. yet the Central government, the States/UTs and the Educational Institutions are the 3 pillars of this Programme.   It would have been impossible to effectively run a programme directly from the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, dealing with over 29,000 educational institutions across the country. The implementation of the programme has been possible due to effective collaboration/ partnership between the Centre and the States on the one hand and the States and Educational Institutions on the other.  

As mentioned earlier, NSS was introduced with the primary objective of developing the personality and character of the student youth through voluntary community service. ‘Education through Service’ is the purpose of the NSS. The ideological orientation of the NSS is inspired by the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi. Very appropriately, the motto of NSS is “NOT ME, BUT YOU”. An NSS volunteer places the ‘community’ before ‘self’. This is part of the third dimension of education, namely, value education, which is becoming increasingly important.

            NSS volunteers have been making very valuable contribution to the Society, besides developing their own personality. During the previous year, NSS units organised 12,628 special camps in adopted villages/ slums across the country. NSS volunteers undertook 91 lakh volunteer-hours of Shramadaan, donated 1.98 lakh units of blood and planted over 13.27 lakh saplings. The volunteers were instrumental in organising about 7,051 Health, Eye and Immunization camps and also 30,011 awareness programmes through rallies and campaigns on various important government programmes and social issues. NSS volunteers facilitated pulse polio immunization of about 6 lakh children. The volunteers have been playing key role in Swachh Bharat Mission, spreading digital literacy and in popularization of Yoga. On the occasion of International Day of Yoga last year, about 11.19 lakh NSS volunteers participated in yoga programmes across the country.

            Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports is committed to expand NSS in a big way. So far, the NSS covers less than 10% of the students eligible to join it. Efforts are being made to increase funding support for NSS and meanwhile, setting up of Self-Financing Units of NSS has also been permitted. To encourage students to take up NSS, UGC has issued an Advisory to all Universities to introduce NSS as an Elective subject with credits. The Ministry has been rewarding good work done by NSS volunteers by conferring Annual NSS Awards at national level, by providing opportunities to NSS volunteers to participate in Republic Day Parade, International Youth Delegations, Adventure Camps, etc.

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            While a lot of good work is being done under NSS, there is potential to do much more. The students and NSS volunteers are young Indians and they represent the most dynamic and vibrant section of the Society.  These are exciting times in India.  The Government of India, under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi has embarked on the mission of building a united, strong and modern India – “Ek Bharat, Shreshtha Bharat”, following the principle of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas”.  A number of path-breaking initiatives have been taken. ‘Make in India’ campaign has been launched to develop India as a global manufacturing hub. ‘Digital India’ initiative seeks to transform India into a digitally empowered society and knowledge economy. A nation-wide campaign to promote Digital Payments is underway. ‘Skill India’ has being launched to impart necessary skills to prepare Indians for the opportunities in Indian economy as also the opportunities abroad.

A number of initiatives, including Smart Cities Project, have been launched for developing infrastructure. ‘Swachh Bharat Mission’ and ‘Clean Ganga’ Mission have been launched for building a clean and green India.  A sustained and determined campaign is underway to eliminate the black money and to clean up our Society. NSS volunteers can be contributors as well as beneficiaries of these initiatives.  The programme design of NSS needs to constantly evolve to reflect the priorities of the Government and the nation.

The importance of NSS was underlined in an Evaluation Study conducted through Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS). In their Study Report, TISS concluded that NSS has been a well-intentioned and an ideologically motivated scheme of the Government of India and that NSS is one of the greatest experiments in the field of youth work in the world. In fact, TISS recommended that NSS should be made mandatory for all public and private funded universities, colleges and institutions and should be integrated as part of the curriculum.

by Mr. Alok Deshwal
*Jt. Director(M&C), PIB, New Delhi

Hundred years of Champaran Satyagraha

The centenary of Mahatma Gandhi’s first Satyagraha in India is being marked this April. It was undertaken in the erstwhile undivided Champaran district in northern Bihar. He went there in April, 1917 on learning about the abuses suffered by the cultivators of the district, forced into growing indigo by British planters/estate owners. ‘The Champaran tenant’, informs Gandhi, ‘was bound by law to plant three out of every twenty parts of his land with indigo for his landlord’. This system was called Tinkathia. 

Agrarian issues rarely formed the part of the political discourse in those days. Even Gandhi was reluctant to commit himself to task in the beginning. But he was so thoroughly persuaded by Rajkumar Shukla, an indigo cultivator from Champaran that he decided to investigate into the matter. Gandhi’s plan was to carry out an extensive inquiry in the district and demand action based on its findings. It was barely two years that he had returned from his two decade long residence in South Africa. He went to Champaran in his personal capacity, revealing nothing of his association with Indian National Congress. By his own admission, Gandhi was on a humanitarian rather than a political mission to Champaran. Nobody recognized him in the district, located in northern end of Bihar, bordering Nepal. It was practically shielded from the political currents in the rest of India.

The local authorities like the Chairman of the Planters Association, Commissioner of Tirhut Division and Police Superintendent did not find his visit welcome. They unsuccessfully tried to dissuade Gandhi from undertaking his inquiry. But Gandhi determinedly began his work from the house of Babu Gorakh Prasad in Motihari, headquarters of the district. While he making a spot visit to a village on an elephant back, a common transport in rural Bihar then, he was served with a court summon. He had been charged with violating Section 144 of Cr. PC. Gandhi received the summons without demur, but refused to leave Champaran. The announcement of his inquiry had already captivated the imagination of the peasants. His popularity skyrocketed as the news of his prosecution broke.

 On April 18, 1917 when Gandhi appeared in Motihari Court, he found 2000 local people accompanying him. The magistrate was thrown into a tizzy, and wanted to defer the trial. But to his surprise, Gandhi wanted to plead guilty. Gandhi read out a statement, and excerpt from which reads- “As a law abiding citizen my first instinct would be, as it was, to obey the order served on me. But I could not do so without doing violence to my sense of duty to those for whom I have come. I feel that I could not just now serve them only by remaining in their midst. I could not, therefore, voluntarily retire. Amid this conflict of duties, I could only throw the responsibility of removing me from them on the Administration………I have disregarded the order served upon me not for want of respect for lawful authority, but in obedience to the higher law of our being, the voice of conscience”.

The Motihari trial collapsed. The Lieutenant Governor of Bihar had ordered the withdrawal of case against Gandhi, and the Collector wrote to Gandhi saying he was free to conduct the inquiry. But this small step was giant leap forward in the history of freedom struggle. ‘The country thus had’ says Gandhi, ‘its first object lesson in Civil Disobedience’. It was widely reported in the newspapers, and heralded the advent of Gandhian era.

Gandhi’s method of inquiry at Champaran was based on surveys by the volunteers. The respondents who willingly gave statements should sign the papers or give thumb impressions. For those unwilling to participate, the reasons must be recorded by the volunteers. The principal volunteers in this survey were mostly lawyers like Babu Rajendra Prasad, Dharnidhar Prasad, Gorakh Prasad, Ramnawami Prasad, Sambhusaran and Anugraha Narain Sinha. Two centres were set up at Motihari and Bettiah. The rush had been so great that volunteers were barely able to cope with the work from day to day. During a recording of the statement an officer from C.I.D. was present. Apart from these several villages were visited and hundreds of ryats (tenants) were queried in their homes. Within a month nearly 4000 statements were taken. Planters refused to attend meetings where ryats were present. But some of them met Gandhi in a delegation. They tried to pose that they were benefactors of their ryats and had protected them from the tangle of moneylenders. But ryats had different opinion about them.

The Bihar administration grew anxious at Gandhi’s prolonged stay in Champaran. Thus on June 4, 1917 Sir Edward Gait, the Lieutenant Governor of Bihar, while receiving Gandhi at Ranchi declared the formation of a formal inquiry committee with Gandhi aboard. But Gait had to concede that Gandhi and volunteers could remain in Champaran and Gandhi would not cease to be an advocate of the ryats.

The Champaran Inquiry Committee began its preliminary meeting on July 11, 1917. After several sittings and spot visits, the Committee submitted its final report on October 4. The Government accepted almost all its recommendations to the benefit of the ryats. The principal recommendation accepted was complete abolition of Tinkathia system. It was a major blow to the British planters who became resentful. But they could not prevent the passage of Champaran Agrarian Act in Bihar & Orissa Legislative Council on March 4, 1918. The scourge of coercive indigo plantation passed into history.

Gandhi’s association with Champaran lasted for a year. Towards the end he had got busy with another agrarian Satyagraha at Kaira (or Kheda) in Gujarat.  He did not limit his stay in Champaran to indigo issue. He promoted primary education in a poorly literate district by inviting volunteers, who came from as far as Maharashtra and Gujarat. The victory at Champaran established  Gandhi’s repute in Indian politics.

By *PRIYADARSHI DUTTA
*The writer is an independent researcher and columnist based in New Delhi. The views expressed herein are his personal.

How Indian President is elected?

Election to the Office of President of India, 2017 (15th Presidential Election). 

The term of office of Shri Pranab Mukherjee, President of India,  is ending on 24th July, 2017.   As per Article 62 of the Constitution,  an election to fill the vacancy caused by the expiration of the term of office of the outgoing President is required to be completed before the expiration of  the term.  The law provides that the notification for election shall be issued on or after  the sixtieth day before the expiry of term of office of the outgoing President.

2.         Article 324 of the Constitution read with the Presidential and Vice – Presidential Elections Act, 1952, and the Presidential and Vice – Presidential Elections Rules, 1974 vests the superintendence, direction and control of the conduct of election to the office of the President of India in the Election Commission of India.  The Election Commission is mandated to ensure  that the election to the office of the President of India, which is the highest elective office in the nation, must be a free and fair election and the Commission is taking all necessary steps for discharging its constitutional responsibility. 
3.         The President is elected by the members of the Electoral College consisting of:
            (I)        elected members of both Houses of Parliament, and
(II)       elected members of the Legislative Assemblies of all States including National Capital Territory of Delhi and the Union Territory of Puducherry.
(The nominated members of either Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha or Legislative Assemblies of the States are not eligible to be included in the Electoral College and therefore, they are not entitled to participate in the election. Similarly, members of the Legislative Councils are also not electors for the Presidential election).

4.         Article 55 (3) of the Constitution provides that the election shall be held in accordance with the System of Proportional Representation by means of single transferable vote and the voting at such election shall be by secret ballot.  In this system, the elector has to mark preferences against the names of the candidates. Preference can be marked in the international form of Indian numerals, in Roman form, or in the form in any  recognised Indian languages. Preference has to be marked in figures only. The elector can mark as many preference as the number of candidates. While the marking of the first preference is compulsory for the ballot paper to be valid, other preferences are optional.
5.         For marking the vote, the Commission will supply particular pens. This pen will be given to the electors  in the polling station by the designated official when the ballot paper is handed over. Electors have to mark the ballot only with this particular pen and not with any other pen. Voting by using any other pen may lead to invalidation of the vote at the time of counting, under Rule 31(1) (d) of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Rules, 1974, reproduced below:-
“ A ballot paper shall be invalid on which-
……………….
(d) any mark is made by which the elector may afterwards be identified” .

6.         The Election Commission, in consultation with the Central Government,  appoints the Secretary General of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, by rotation, as the Returning Officer. Accordingly, the Secretary General, Lok Sabha will be appointed as the Returning Officer for the present election.  Poll for the election will be taken in the Parliament House and in the premises of the State Legislative Assemblies, including the Legislative Assemblies of NCT of Delhi and Puducherry.  The Commission has also decided to appoint Assistant Returning Officers in all State Capitals, including NCT of Delhi and Union Territory of Puducherry, for making arrangements for conducting the poll and for transportation of the ballot boxes and other important documents to and from the Election Commission.  For meeting any eventuality in case the Assistant Returning Officer is not available for any reason, a second Assistant Returning Officer is also being appointed.  
7.         In pursuance of sub–section (1) of section (4) of the Presidential and Vice Presidential Elections Act, 1952, the Election Commission of India has fixed the schedule for the election to fill the office of the President of India as given below:
SCHEDULE FOR PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, 2017 
Issue of Election Commission’s notification calling the election 14-06-2017 (Wednesday) 
Last date for making nominations 28-06-2017 (Wednesday) 
Date for the scrutiny of nominations 29-06-2017 (Thursday) 
Last date for the withdrawal of candidatures 01-07-2017 (Saturday) 
Date on which a poll shall, if necessary, be taken 17-07-2017 (Monday) 
Date on which counting, if required, shall be taken 20-07-2017 (Thursday)

8.         The nomination paper of a candidate must be delivered to the Returning Officer at New Delhi in the place to be specified by him by a public notice that will be issued by him (in Form-1  appended to the Presidential and Vice- Presidential Elections, Rules, 1974), and at no other place. Under the law, nomination (in prescribed Form 2) can be filed   either by the candidate  himself or by any of his Proposers or Seconders between 11.00 a.m. to 3.00 p.m. Nomination cannot be filed on public holidays.   A nomination paper of a candidate has to be subscribe d by at least fifty electors as Proposers and by at least another fifty electors as Seconders.  An elector can subscribe to only one nomination paper of a candidate as either a Proposer or a Seconder. If an elector subscribes more than one nomination paper, his signature on the nomination papers other than the one first delivered to the Returning Officer, will be invalid. A candidate can file maximum of four nomination papers. The security deposit for the election is Rs. 15,000/- (Rupees fifteen thousand only), which is required to be made along with the nomination paper, or should be deposited in Reserve Bank of India or a Govt. Treasury under the relevant Head of Accounts for the purpose prior to filing of nomination.
9.         The list of members of the Electoral College maintained by the Commission for the Presidential Election, 2017, would be available for sale @ Rs. 300/- per copy from the counter opened in the premises of Election Commission of India.  A copy of the Electoral College is also being uploaded on the Commission’s website.
10.       The polling, if required, shall take place in the polling stations.
11.       Each contesting candidate  can authorize a  representative to be present in each place of polling (polling stations) and at  the place fixed for counting (counting hall). Authorization of representatives for this purpose shall be made by the candidate in writing.
12.       Normally, members of Parliament are expected to cast their votes at the Place pf Poll in the Parliament House, New Delhi, and members of State Legislative Assemblies are expected to vote at the respective State Capital.  However, on account of any exigency or special circumstances, the Members of Parliament can vote in any of the polling stations in the State capital/Delhi/Puducherry.  Similarly, any MLA  may vote at New Delhi instead of voting in the  respective State Capital.  For this purpose, the MPs/MLAs concerned have to apply in advance to the Election Commission in the prescribed format so as to reach the Election Commission at least 10 days before the date of poll. The format for making such application will be available with the Returning Officer and with the Assistant Returning Officers.
13.       The Constitution has expressly provided that election to the office of President shall be by secret ballot.  Therefore, the electors are expected to scrupulously maintain secrecy of vote.  There is no concept of  open voting  at this election and showing the ballot to anyone under any circumstances in the case of Presidential and Vice Presidential elections is totally prohibited. Voting procedure laid down in the 1974 Rules provides that after marking the vote in the Voting Compartment, the elector is required to fold the ballot paper and insert it in the Ballot Box. Any violation of the voting procedure will entail cancellation of the ballot paper by the Presiding Officer. As already mentioned in paragraph 4, marking of vote can be done only with the particular pen supplied to the electors in the polling station.
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14.       In this connection, it is also clarified that political parties cannot issue any whip to their MPs and MLAs in the matter of voting in the Presidential election. It is also clarified that as per Section 18 of the Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections Act, 1952,  the offence of ‘bribery’ or ‘undue influence’ as defined in Sections 171B and 171C of IPC,  by the  returned candidate or any person with the consent of the returned candidate are among the grounds on which the election can be declared void by the Hon’ble supreme Court in an Election Petition.
15.       The Chief Electoral Officers of each State including NCT of Delhi and UT of Puducherry shall supervise and coordinate with the Assistant Returning Officers for the conduct of poll at the respective State Capitals and matters such as transport of the ballot boxes and other important documents from the Election Commission to the respective State Capitals and back to New Delhi after the poll.
16.       Counting of votes will be held in New Delhi under the supervision of the Returning Officer. On completion of counting, Return of Election ( in Form 7 appended to the  Presidential and Vice-Presidential Elections  Rules, 1974) will be signed and issued by the Returning Officer declaring the candidate who secures the quota elected. Formal announcement of election of the President will be made by the Commission.
17.       The Commission appoints senior Officers of the Government of India as its Observers at the place(s) of polling to ensure proper conduct of poll.       
18.       The Commission has brought out a comprehensive booklet covering all aspects of election to the office of the President and copies of the publication can be obtained @ Rs. 25/- per copy from the Commission’s sale counter or from the offices of the Chief Electoral Officers in different States and Union Territories.
Source: Election Commission of India
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