National Service Scheme (NSS) was introduced in 1969 to mark the centenary year of Mahatma Gandhi’s birth. It was launched in 37 universities and 40,000 students joined the scheme in the beginning.
The nationwide scheme now includes 3.8 million university students after 50 years of its inception. NSS is a central government scheme, implemented by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports in universities, colleges and schools.
The aim of this scheme is to involve students in government-led community service schemes as volunteers. Students gain experience which they can use to further serve their community.
One of the main objectives of this scheme is based on Mahatma Gandhi’s idea that youngsters should prioritise social responsibility. Inspired by this, the motto of NSS is ‘Not Me But You.’
Under the leadership of Dr Radhakrishnan, University Grants Commission (UGC) introduced this voluntary service scheme, keeping in mind that it will strengthen the connection between the campus and the community.
With the help of this scheme, many government-led community initiatives have been successfully implemented. Every NSS volunteer is required to put 240 hours of service for two years. They are required to spend their service hours in the community, which could be a village or slum.
These volunteers have provided relief work during natural disasters like floods, earthquakes, famines and are also helping the government to manage the Covid-19 crisis.
The higher secondary wing of NSS took up the task of producing five lakh reusable masks in order to make their contribution in the fight against coronavirus.
In August 2019, during Kerala floods, NSS volunteers from the University of Kerala helped served their community. As reported by The Hindu, NSS units in different colleges collected relief material for people hit by the flood and helped district authorities in collecting information about the damage suffered by people during the flood.
When the 2015 Nepal Earthquake hit Nepal and India, the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports deputed volunteers to carry out relief work.