The National Service Scheme (NSS) is an Indian government-sponsored public service program conducted by the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports of the Government of India. Popularly known as NSS, the scheme was launched in Gandhiji's Centenary year, 1969. Aimed at developing student's personality through community service, NSS is a voluntary association of young people in Colleges, Universities and at +2 level working for a campus-community linkage.
The National Service Scheme (NSS) is Central Government sponsored programme falls under the jurisdiction of Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. Jawaharlal Nehru as first Prime Minister of post-independent India played a very important role in introducing NSS in academic institutions. NSS was launched in Mahatma Gandhi’s Birth Centenary Year 1969, in 37 Universities involving 40,000 students. Mahatma Gandhi always insisted the idea that students and youth should be involved in the nation building process and service to the nation. He suggested that instead of undertaking academic research about economic and social disability, the students should do “something positive so that the life of the villagers might be raised to a higher material and moral level”. Gandhiji insisted that the first duty of the students should be, not to treat their period of study as one of the opportunities for indulgence in intellectual luxury, but for preparing themselves for final dedication in the service of those who provided the sinews of the nation with the national goods & services so essential to society. Therefore, fostering social responsibility, inculcating dedication, commitment to solving social problems and developing personality through community service are the main aims of NSS. Today NSS has grown as one of the biggest social service institution and youth movement in the world with more than 38 lakhs of dedicated volunteers all over the country till 2016.
The Motto of NSS is "Not Me but You", that reflects the essence of democratic living and upholds the need for selfless service. The philosophy of the NSS is well doctrine in this motto, which underlines the belief that the welfare of an individual is ultimately dependent on the welfare of the society on the whole and therefore, the NSS volunteers shall strive for the well-being of the society.
The broad objectives of NSS are to:
1. Understand the community in which they work
2. Understand themselves in relation to their community;
3. Identify the needs and problems of the community and involve them in problem
4. Develop among them a sense of social and civic responsibility;
5. Utilize their knowledge in finding practical solution to individual and community
6. Develop competence required for group living and sharing of responsibilities;
7. Gain skills in mobilizing community participation;
8. Acquire leadership qualities and democratic attitude;
9. Develop capacity to meet emergencies and natural disasters and
10. Practice national integration and social harmony.
The symbol for the NSS has been based on the giant Rath Wheel of the world famous Konark Sun Temple (The Black Pagoda) situated in Orissa, India. The wheel portrays the cycle of creation, preservation and release and signifies the movement in life across time and space. The symbol thus stands for continuity as well as change and implies the continuous striving of NSS for social change.
The NSS symbol is embossed on the NSS badge. The NSS volunteers wear it while undertaking any programme of community service. The Konark wheel in the symbol has eight bars which represent the 24 hours of the day. Hence, the badge reminds the wearer to be in readiness for service of the nation round the clock i.e. for 24 hours. The red colour in the badge indicates that the NSS volunteers are full of blood i.e. lively, active, energetic and full of high spirit. The navy blue colour indicates the cosmos of which the NSS is a tiny part, ready to contribute its share for the welfare of the humankind.
NSS was formally launched on 24th September, 1969, the birth centenary year of Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of the Nation. Therefore, 24th September is celebrated every year as NSS Day with appropriate programmes and activities.
During Silver Jubilee Year 1994 the NSS theme song has been composed. All NSS volunteers are expected to learn the theme song, which is given to them and sing the song during NSS programmes and celebrations.
At national level, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports of India is the nodal authority, which works with state-level NSS cells. State-level NSS cells are responsibility of the respective state governments. Within states, each university has University level NSS cell under which institutions (schools and colleges) based NSS units operate. Most government and government-aided institutions have volunteer NSS units. Institutions are encouraged to have NSS volunteers.