Following Princeton University's plan to allow new students to take a year off to participate in social service abroad, we asked readers if a similar idea -- giving students a year off to undertake social service activities in rural India -- was a good idea.
A number of readers wrote in with their take on the idea, here's a look at some of the responses we received:
Universities can tie up with NGOs and let small group of students do a project/research/community service for at least 3 months as part of the course itself for every stream (Science/Arts/Commerce). I would say a mix of Militery training and service/research through NGOs in a different state is ideal. This will definitely help young students understand and have broader perspective about life than just an understanding about their surroundings.
Why not? No doubt, this idea of compulsory social service is good and broadens horizons of the student. It is all the more necessary in India with our diversity. I feel that the one year can be split into 9 months of compulsory military training and 3 months of "social service" to indoctrinate discipline in our students.
-- Varadraj Prabhu
When I graduated in 2001 I took a year off on a voluntary assignment spending most of the time with youth in rural and semi urban areas in West bengal, north east and other parts of India. Post, that I got into a masters programme in communications. The 12 months spent in travelling to remote corners of india, exposing myself to lifestyles of people my age in small towns, the experiencines one encountered during train journeys and the learnings I have had have helped me immensely in my post graduation, my job and in my life. I don't think one year is too much of a time waste if put to good use. Compulsory community service would be a better option than military service for the weak hearted.
-- Amith Prabhu
A very famous quote says, "An Idea can change your life".
Well i would say, "This idea will change our country".
Going and working in the heart of our country, uderstanding the simple people, their hardwork, their problems, for whom today also money stays far behind in their list of priorities, unlike we, the urban Indian.
It will help a youth to be down-to-earth...... lot of differnce will come. I would urge the Institutes to go ahead with this idea.
-- Sanjay Lakhotia
Though a very novel and good idea but i do not think its relevant to our Indian education system.A year off will be too much and it wont help our students so much to go to rural areas to gain sight,we as have diverse cultures r alraedy aware of our cultures our people etc.But ya few months in the graduation course which allows studenst to go to diff states of india perhaps will have.But this should be in the course not outside it .
-- Sharmeely Kaushik
India is still a developing country..and if I year is lost lihe this..can a middle class parent manage the expenses for this...Parents take loans for childs eductaion and and somehow make ends meet...
this is a very normal case in our society..
may be this can be done for students from high society..as they have money and stuff to manage such things !!
It looks a brilliant idea..but then every coin has its others sides
-- Gagan Naik
We have to mould the NSS program from the present status and every citizen of India should work for the NSS for a period of one year , on a voluntary basis. That will expand the so-called visions and wisdom of the young generation, let them know that the life is not the musical bights and night clubs and pubs, but it is really worthy then all those things advertised with smart and dynamic looking ones. They must also should know that country and cultures
-- Ramanatha Sastry
This is really a very good idea in developing the knowledge of village culture in city people. City life has became a mechanical life which has resulted in cultureless and non-relational life. So, students, especially those who are originally from cities, must be suggested to go and live with the people who are living away from all these pressures and mechanical lifestyles.
-- Nagaraj Hegde
This is really a very inteligent and great idea. We should start this as soon as possible.
I have done my graduation from Mumbai, but I have lived my life in the remotest of India, thats Uttaranchal remote hills, I lived in UP, I lived in Panagarh (WB),
In my graduation time I have seen most of my friends were unaware of our rural India. They think everything on the basis of the metro what they have seen.
The questions pertaining to such a "NOVEL" idea, would be feasibility, necessity and access to such a framework / structure. Also if only 10% of the whole lot are going to be sent across, then the question arises as to what constitutes the idea of social awareness for Indian students and who all of the lot shoudl be chosen for such a NOVEL RIDE.
It may be, well worth a shot, but with lack of financial resources with Indian institutions and also with the social structure acting as a thorn in intellectual growth, i believe any such implementation within Indian framework would stand a 20% chance of sucess rate.
Also with the thinking of American / European Institutions being wuite different with respect to risk taking, horizon broadening, it would require extremely careful logistical planning and response to carry out such a program.
A possible solution to this could be allowing local students to migrate inside the country under such a scheme for first few years under various social scheme brackets and then probably move into cross-border ventures. But still a great vision and point of debate.
Looks like a good step for sure...
-- Ron Raj
Should our students be given a year off to work with India's rural communities so that they gain a better understanding of the issues and problems confronting the country?
Would this interaction help our graduates gain a better, more well-rounded perspective of India, its present and future?
With students burdened with the pressures of exams and the search for lucrative careers, would such a programme lend clarity to their academic pursuits?
Post your comments on the message board below!