ST. XAVIER’S COLLEGE CELEBRATES NSS GOLDEN JUBILEE
“Essential to the attainment of these national goals is the moral imperative of ensuring social justice and respect for human dignity. The great biblical tradition enjoins on all peoples the duty to hear the voice of the poor. It bids us to break the bonds of injustice and oppression which give rise to glaring, and indeed, scandalous social inequalities. Reforming the social structures which perpetuate poverty and the exclusion of the poor first requires a conversion of mind and heart”. Pope Francis
To commemorate 50 years of the National Service Scheme (NSS) at St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous) Kolkata, a day-long seminar on the theme: ‘Social Responsibility of College Students – Its Need and Relevance Today’ was held on 24th September 2019 in collaboration with the Internal Quality Assurance Cell (IQAC) of the College.
“Creating Men and Women for others”, has been one of the missions of St. Xavier’s College since its establishment in 1860. Engaging College students at the service of the less privileged and backward people has always been a way of life at St. Xavier’s. However, this social commitment became more prominent under the leadership of Fr. Gerard (Babu) Beckers, SJ, in 1969 when the NSS was launched in the Country and in the College. Since then the social outreach initiatives of the College has grown in leaps and bounds touching numerous lives and creating positive impact on the society. For the last 50 years, the NSS motto of “Not me, But you”, was the mantra of every NSS Volunteer in the campus.
Rev. Dr. Dominic Savio, SJ. Principal of the College reminded the students about the rich history of St. Xavier’s College in his inaugural address. He mentioned great Jesuits like Fr. Babu Beckers, who used to accompany the students into the villages and work along with them. He motivated the students by saying, “Young students have maximum potential, maximum energy and maximum enthusiasm. If you channelize these energies constructively then surely the impact will also be constructive”. He appreciated the NSS volunteers for their committed service throughout the year. He greatly acknowledged the dedication and hard work of Prof. Cheryl Francis, the Director of Social Work & NSS at St. Xavier’s College. He congratulated her for receiving the Best Programme Officer Award from Calcutta University.
Ms. Ratnaboli Ray, Founder & Managing Trustee, Mental Health Rights Organization was the Chief Guest for the programme. “I feel so proud to be part of this iconic Institution”, she expressed with all humility. “I am here to talk about how the youth (YOU) can contribute towards a more egalitarian and equitable society, how together we- the youth and the not-as-young but equally eager, can strive to remove inequalities in our societies”. She stressed on three very important ways by which the Youth could contribute to the society – Self Development, Improving the Quality of Life of Peers and Donating Quality Time.
The primary objective of the seminar was to encourage College students to engage in social causes, apart from their academic commitments, thereby becoming agents of social change. 230 students representing 23 departments from the main and rural campus at Raghabpur presented on the theme. The topics varied from Waste Management to Water Conservation to Child Marriage, to Transgender, to Menstrual Hygiene, to Substance abuse to lynching, to Gender equality. However, Mental Health and Mental Wellness was the favourite topic of more than 6 teams. As future plan, every team submitted a plan of action which would be taken up by their respective departments and coordinated by the NSS involving more students and faculty members.
Mr. Chittapriyo Sadhu, General Manager, Save the Children NGO, who was the judge for the event, was overwhelmed by the response of the students. “I feel so delighted to see young people so interested to take up social causes. Your topics were very relevant and creatively presented”. To appreciate the efforts of the students, prizes were distributed. The First position went to Mass Communication & Vediography, The Second went to Commerce Morning Team 1 and Third to BA General, Rural Campus. Apart from this, special prizes were given to the Education Department for ‘Most Disciplined’, the Bengali Department (Rural Campus) for ‘Most Enthusiastic’, the Bengali Department (Main Campus) for ‘Most Creative’ and the Political Science department for ‘Best Plan of Action’
The programme concluded with a vote of thanks to the College Administration, NSS Board Members and the organising team members. Miss Chandrima Biswas, a commerce student from the rural campus received the Best Student Volunteer Award for her dedicated service with NSS.
St. Xavier’s College has always focussed on Rural Development. Rev. Dr. Dominic Savio, S.J., Principal and Rector, St. Xavier’s College (Autonomous), Kolkata has added a new dimension to NSS by involving it in various programmes recommended by MHRD and UGC. To mention a few – The Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, ‘Unnat Bharat Abhiyan’, ‘Creating a plastic free campus’, Water conservation etc. The NSS is working vigorously on creating awareness on the ‘ill effects of Plastic’, ‘Keeping the campus Green & Clean’, ‘Say NO to Drugs’, Gender Equality, Mental Wellness and the like apart from continuing its annual events like Blood Donation Camp, Shishu Mela, Village Education Programme and the Rural Work Camps. NSS also works in collaboration with various NGOs where the students are linked to provide necessary services. The Alumni Association has been extremely supportive in all the social outreach initiatives of the College. NSS works alongside with the Alumni Association and the Students’ Council especially when it comes to responding to needs during natural calamities.
“An army without arms” and the “Human Face of St. Xavier’s” are some of the phrases used for NSS in the campus. The Department of Social Work and NSS has come a long way. But there are still ‘miles and miles to go…’ At St. Xavier’s we are committed to build a just society. We are committed to live up to its Motto of Nihil Ultra! Nothing Beyond.
Following are the activities held during the period July 2018 to October 2019: