Social Work in India

Professional social work in India, owes its origin to a short-term training course on social service organised by the social service league at Bombay. The training course included those men and women who were willing to volunteer them for social service. Till that time social workers did not get any salary or remuneration for their work. It was simply a social service to the needy people guided by the principle of humanity. The services for industrial labour class conducted by the Nagpada Neighbourhood House highlighted the need for trained workers around that time and this led to the commencement of a full-fledged professional education in social work with the establishment of Sir Dorabji Tata Graduate School of Social Work in 1936 in Bombay. The institute started a course of professional training in social work. Later on, it was renamed as the Tata School of Social Sciences (TISS).

The founding director of the institute Mr. Clifford Manshardt, was an American missionary and Mr. J.M. Kumarappa a well-known Indian educator with MA and PhD degrees from Columbia University was his collaborator. Thus, the seed of social work profession in colonial India was sown by the American professionals. Strong influence of American model on the social work education and training in India is result of this.

Social work education and profession in India has grown considerably in the last eighty years. Today social workers work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, schools, correctional settings, industries, corporate houses, etc. In the present socio-political-economic context, when individuals, groups and communities at large are facing adverse situations in day to day life, social workers have an important role to play. The value base, principles and skills of a social work professional helps him/her to bring out his/her client from the critical situation to a normal life.

“Social work is a practice-based profession and an academic discipline that promotes social change and development, social cohesion, and the empowerment and liberation of people. Principles of social justice, human rights, collective responsibility and respect for diversities are central to social work (IASSW, 2014).

Professional social work is devoted to enabling individuals, groups, families and communities function in the best possible manner in their environment. This entails provision of either direct services to our clients or working with them for change to improve social conditions (NASW, 2014).

As professionals who want to make things better, who want to relieve suffering, who want their work to make a difference (NASW, 2014), social workers apply their knowledge and skills to ameliorate sufferings and promote social justice.

Professional social work services include a wide array of activities which includes counselling, advocacy, rehabilitation services, child care, community practice etc. An exhaustive list of services offered by professional social workers has been provided in this website. The clientele in need of these services also belong to a diverse range. They include the needy and marginalised such as children in need of care and protection, women, disabled, elderly, as well as not-for-profit organisations and corporate houses. We at SEWA are making an attempt to bring the professional social workers providing various services and the prospective clients to a common platform through this website so that there can be a fruitful engagement of both the groups.

Link to the article by Prof. Sanjai Bhatt and Dr. Digvijoy Phukan on SWEI in India Click here