“What you reject today, you could accept tomorrow. And what you accept today, you could reject tomorrow. Never say never unless you can predict the future.”
Suzy Kassem in “Rise Up and Salute the Sun: The Writings of Suzy Kassem”
As I was preparing myself for my final semester during my Masters in Delhi School of Social work, the whole atmosphere was filled with mixed emotions of love, hatred and ideological battle among the students of my department as well as the whole country.
I remembered when I first joined the department, a question was asked “why do you want to become a social work professional”? Everyone wanted to be a change agent and make an impact to the society. Many things happened in the country in those two years which shaped all of us and made us what we are at right now, for good or for bad.
As we look around, everyday it is a new battle ground for every one of us. It is a battle for Ideology, for Change, for Survival, for Rights, for Identity, for Peace and what not.
What are your battles and why is it our battles?
As I travelled more than 50 villages in these past few months around the borders of Manipur, the issues that are affecting each day to the people are not the Indo-Pak conflict, not the US- North Korean conflict, not about ideology, not about Beef, not about the National anthem or the elections etc but it was about identity ,Jobs, basic Healthcare services, Basic livelihood activity, basic Educational facilities with proper teachers and toilets, basic sports infrastructure to pursue their talents. It is a battle for survival.
As social work professionals we took a pledge for social justice, equality and empowerment yet we are confused today as to where our intervention has to be focused. What we rejected some years back, we have accepted today and what we have accepted some years back, we have rejected it today. The values and principles which act as a guiding light and a ray of hope seem to be fading away with the onslaught of mechanism driven by vested interest of different players.
The work in social sector is becoming immune each day to conflicts and heading towards a business model. The social sector is in a tryst with destiny in its role and objectives of moving forward, as whether we will play a role to mitigate different forms of conflict with clarity, understanding, perseverance and commitment or to conform to other agents playing roles in enjoying the fruits of conflict. Today the name or the tag Social work has been looked down upon as the most corrupted profession with every Tom, Dick and Harry who doesn’t have a regular Job title getting associated with it.
Coming back to question they often asked in the department, “Why do you want to be a social work professional”?
The answer to this is detrimental to the consequences that the person will bear in their career as well as their lives. Very few had made choices according to the principles, values and ethics of the profession. When we started in the department, all the answer including mine was very ideal in utopian frame but as we started seeing the realities of what lays ahead, our paths towards the ideals got narrower and narrower.
It is very important to understand what exactly our goals, vision and objectives are so that we can sustain in our field regardless of many unwanted intervention and pressure from the society as well as the state in itself.
In a state like ours where we have not seen much stability in the discourse of law and order, community tensions, governments as well as the nature of relationship and divide between the hill and the valley, this past few months has been calm and ominous. We should take this as an opportunity to refocus our priorities and to be empathetic in our approach of bringing over all development in the state.
The times are changing; it is high time we focus on the needs of the society in alignment to the ethics, values, and principles of an egalitarian society regardless of the oxymoron state we might be in. (The writer is Director, Recognize Rise And Empower Association)