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Dr. Bishnu Mohan Dash, Assistant Professor, Department of Social Work, Bhim Rao Ambedkar College, Delhi, India.

Indianisation/ Bharatiyakaran of Social Work: A national mission towards indigenising Social Work Education in India


The movement for Bharatiyakaran of social work education aims to restore and reroot India’s culture, traditional practices and wisdom in social work education. It aims at indigenization, decolonization and contextualization of social work education relevant to Indian society and culture. It is a national movement initiated by grass root social work academicians across the country with a mission to transform and reform social work curriculum, education and research throughout the country. Social work education in India since its inception in the year 1936 has mostly remained American Euro centric.

Despite more than eight decades of social work education in India, very few attempts have been made to make the curriculum indigenous and relevant to Indian society. Of course curriculum revision measures were undertaken by University Grants Commission, but moreover it remained Euro centric. Even in the in the past eight decades, there has been very little attempt to explore India’s indigenous thoughts, traditions and practices from its rich treasure of philosophical texts and indigenous experiences and there has been a tendency to maintain status quo with regard to social work curriculum. Due to blind emulation of western knowledge and its unsuitability and inadaptability in Indian context, Professional social workers in India have remained captive to euro centricism and the status of social work professionals have become ludicrous. Still we experience complete dissonance between the borrowed western alien paradigms, models of social work and Indian indigenous traditional social service models.

The unsystematic and unplanned introduction of social work as a professional course and sidelining of India’s indigenous paradigms, practices, the social work professionals have lost their credibility as professionals. The absolute imported curriculum and obsolete field work practicum has halted the momentum of social work discipline in India. Due to lack of evidenced based practice and teaching of unscientific or pseudo-scientific knowledge, social work practioners have not been able to secure exclusive areas of practice unlike USA and UK. As a result, the social work profession in India is still struggling for professional status as well as for its identity due to ineffective and irrelevant social work theories and practice models which is unsuitable and unadoptable in India’s local conditions. Of course, social workers used to claim themselves as professionals in India, but the reality is different and the actual status is much known to everyone. Though it has been too late, but recent developments towards Indianisation/Bharatiyakaran of social work education seems to be the new beginning to explore and incorporate indic wisdom in the social work curriculum.

The movement for Bharatiyakaran of social work education has made an attempt to revitalize and rejuvenate the social work education in India by redesigning the social work curriculum by integrating India’s traditional practices and emphasizes on reviving India’s traditional social institutions which has been proved very effective and successful since the ancient Vedic period. The advocates of Bharatiyakaran of social work education are engaged not only in reframing and redesigning the social work curriculum, but also working on teaching learning pedagogy in social work education as well as changing the research agenda. The advocates of Bharatiyakaran of social work education are continuously engaged in organizing seminars, conferences, workshops, live lecture series, publication of indigenous literature in social work as well as publication of articles and research papers in journals, magazines and leading daily newspapers as well as publication of newsletters. Researches are also being undertaken by the proponents of Bharatiyakaran on Bharatiyakaran of social work education as well as on areas to explore Indic indigenous models and experiences.

The newly designed Bharatiyakaran of social work curriculum is used by various universities as reference syllabus while designing their curriculum. The Bharatiyakaran of social work curriculum was finalized in a national workshop on Bharatiyakaran of Social Work education organized in Mahatma Gandhi Antarrashtriya Hindi Vishwavidyalaya, Wardha, Maharashtra. However, before the workshop, teams were formed to design each and every paper through discussions and consultations. Around 32 experts were invited for the redesigning of social work curriculum from different leading schools of social work. During the preparation of designing the curriculum, sources of indigenous knowledge were identified and incorporated. The Indian Philosophy ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ and Sarve Bhavantu Sukhinah’ was the motivational drive while designing the curriculum. The curriculum has not only expanded the philosophical base of social work curriculum but also included indigenous social work perspectives of Asian and African countries. It has also included the philosophical base of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Jainism and other major religions of India with an emphasis on spiritual social work. Besides that it has included the rich Indian tested experiences, thoughts and indigenous models of human happiness, well-being and community development. The Indian concepts of social welfare like dharma, danam, yagna, punya; purusartha, bhakti etc. has been incorporated in the curriculum. The Indic social work values, principles, ethics and practices are embedded in the Shastric literature has been incorporated in the social work curriculum. There has been attempt to include at least thirty percent of Indic wisdom in each and every paper of social work.

The proponents of Bharatiyakaran are not against Euro centric wisdom, however western Euro American paradigms of knowledge has also been incorporated in the curriculum in order to have a balance between Indian Indic wisdom and global standards of social work education. However, attempts are being made to decolonize the social work education as much as possible. While indianising the social work curriculum, regional experiences and indigenous innovations in Asian, African countries which are much more similar to Indian context has been added in the Curriculum. Besides that the models of various nationalist organizations and spiritual organizations in social work, Indian indigenous models of sanitation, housing, water harvesting, community development and rural development has been added in the curriculum. Attempts has been made to provide linkages between classroom learning and field realities. So, Bharatiyakaran of Social Work curriculum is a completely inclusive and holistic curriculum. Even faculty members and academicians are encouraged to undertake research on exploring Indic indigenous knowledge and ideas which will be applicable, effective in Indian context. The grass root consensus among social work fraternity in India has evolved towards indigenizing social work curriculum as well as making it culturally sensitive and compatible with Indian values and ethics as well as to reject the irrevalent Euro American perspectives in social work.

Ultimately it has resulted as people’s movement to redefine the future course of social work education in India towards promotion of evidenced based, strength based social work practice. Efforts are being undertaken by the proponents of Bharatiyakaran/indianisation of social work education to establish social work discipline as a vibrant and relevant in Indian context. It is not only relevant for social work profession in Indian context but social work profession as a whole. It aims to create professional social workers as champions of volunteerism, social service, social welfare and above all to prepare them to work devotedly by following the Indic social work values such as dharma, satya, nishtha, upeksha and ahimsha The movement for Bharatiyakaran/indianisation of social work education in India has ushered a new era of Indian social work besides giving a new perspective and new direction to Indian social work. It is comprised of Darshan, Ayurveda, Dharma, Shastric knowledge, Indian spirituality, social movements in India and Indian models of community development. It has given space for resurgence of Indic thought and knowledge with an emphasis on ‘swadeshi’ and ‘sarvodaya’ while indigenizing the curriculum. The Bharatiyakaran social work education is a paradigm shift from Euro American centric education to Indianisation of social work education.

Dr. Bishnu Mohan Dash is also General Secretary of Bharatiya Samaj Karya Parishad (BSKP), which is engaged in spearheading the movement for Bharatiyakaran of Social Work education in India.