Reimagining Futures - Journey Begins at TISS
When I was in school I remember seeing print ads of Childline. The number was 1098 and a child holding a phone was the logo. What a great idea it had seemed to me back then, I could simply call up a number if I was beaten up at school, I thought. Several years later, sitting at the Convention Centre of the TISS, Bombay campus I found out that it all began there. What was meant to be a personal project of Jeroo Billimoria has now transformed into a global movement, along with the Ministry of Women and Child Development adopting the programme as its own
The occasion was the Director's Address as part of our Orientation for the academic year 16-18. Dr. Parasuraman was to speak about the various Field Action Projects that are undertaken at TISS by various faculty members and students belonging to the myriad centres that call this campus their home. It was amazing how candid, sensitive and witty the talk was. Apart from the fact that many of the programmes which began here were then later adopted as models by the Government of India/Various States as their own welfare/development programmes.
“No good work can be done without struggle”
There was Koshish, the programme to free Beggars' Home across India of people wrongly impounded, who were later rehabilitated. “If I go to VT at 3 AM, I will be picked up as a beggar and put into a Beggar's Home” Or the Special Cell for Women established in the 80s under Commissioner of Bombay, Julio Rebeiro IPS, which is now being adopted in Delhi. NRLM was started here while TISS also conducts the PMRDF – which invites young folks to work with the Collector of Conflict Affected districts.
The Centre for Disaster Management responds immediately with resources and expertise in times of all the disasters and reconstruction of a landslide affected Malin in Maharashtra and cloud burst affected Tharu in Leh is underway. A free counselling helpline iCall is being run on campus. There are 30 Criminal Justice fellowships offered. Tarasha, a programme to free mentally sound women, victims of domestic trouble, from homes for the mentally ill is underway. Academically he spoke about tie ups with Foreign Universities and establishing the Hindukush-Himalyan University Consortium, and the BRICS university network.
Social Sciences is nobody's baby
He explained how it is important to nurture social sciences. And the role it plays in finding solutions to the society's grave problems. All the projects were started on campus by enthusiastic faculty and student members. We listened in rapt attention to his accented voice, his anecdotes and witty remarks on social works, social sciences and the society.
“If you can succeed in UP, you can succeed anywhere”
When asked about what the School of Management (the one I belong to) has done, the Director explained how he wanted to abolish the HRM&LR Programme which I am a part of, when he joined in 2004. However, he only restructured it to make it more socially relevant. He also explained how our school had run a Skill Development programme with the Weavers of Benares, the Chikankari workers of Lucknow and the Sports Goods manufacturers at Meerut.
Apart from this, there is a lot of work being done with the Government directly such as the social audit of the Nirbhaya Programme, developing Participatory Planning for the Sansad Gram Yojana.
Why should you work for the Government?
Because the government works for the people, or is supposed to. But yes, you being there can make it for the people.
On jobs and careers, a lady asked about the low pay packages of trained social workers. To this the Director replied candidly: Nowadays, they get paid well but of course not as well as the HR guys. More laughter. He stressed on transforming personal privileges into opportunities for others. On taking up a grass roots job. On choosing a partner that respects you.
There is nothing that cannot be done. Speak truth to the power. Do it through research.
On several occasions, he mentioned that there were no funds to run these projects. But the money came because the will was there. He encouraged us to bring forth our projects and “we'll talk” he said. He answers were candid and encouraging. He was unassuming, revealed to us his salary (Rs. 89,000 take home)
But moreover, it made me feel great to be here. To be a part of something bigger, to be part of a University that doesn't stress only on getting placed but on making a difference to the lives of others. Now the slogan – Reimagining futures makes a lot more sense to me. I am looking forward to my two years here. Lots to be done.
For a complete list of the Field Action Programmes conducted at TISS and to get involved with them, kindly click here.