What Comes to Your Mind When You Hear ‘Social Service’?

Many months ago, I got an opportunity to moderate a panel discussion on ‘Creating Social Awareness among students’. The participants were teachers from various schools in Trivandrum city. Except for one, all teachers were vociferous about how they create social awareness among their students. I guess the silent teacher was a victim of an unplanned participant replacement ๐Ÿ™‚

Teachers recollected taking children forย visits to the Regional Cancer Center & old age homes, fund raiser events conducted and large amounts collected. I felt that the discussion brought out very limited points.

I am thinking aloud on certain points that I either mentioned in that discussion or thought about later.

  1. Is ‘social service’ only about spending time with the deprived and the ailing and, raising funds?
  2. There are schools in the same city with meager facilities. Children, who enjoy good amenities, can spend some time with their disadvantaged peers. No better way, in my opinion, than being able to relate to oneโ€™s peers from a different background.
  3. An established school can adopt a poor man’s school and decide how to assist them for a certain duration.
  4. Can’t Doctor parents from a school or Doctor spouses from a company be organized for a day’s health camp in a rural area?
  5. When spending time at institutes for the differently abled, most groups plan entertainment events for a whole day. Not all managements are currently equipped for Knowledge Management through Information Technology. Is there any good practice we can help find and share with the managements?
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  7. A school teacher in that panel discussion said they also spread awareness about harms from plastic. But it was part of their Environment track and not Social Service track. Is the society immune from environmental issues?
  8. A picture does speak a thousand words. When pictures of physically challenged people are used for fund raising, it is sympathy and not empathy that is generated. Bulls Eye – sympathy funds!
  9. At certain corporate discussions, posters and media coverage gets more discussed than an end vision for planned Social Awareness Campaigns. Here, Social Service happens to be a sub-track of ‘branding’.

Most of us tend to limit our thinking to (pre)set boundaries. Identify the first picture your mind generates when you hear ‘Social Service’. Is your thought process limited? If you feel โ€˜yesโ€™, can you identify what triggers this picture for you? ๐Ÿ™‚


  1. Indu,

    The first picture that comes in ma mind is that of Kerala Sastra Sahitya Parishad.

    It is interesting something like that will not come in the typical ‘corporate social responsibility’ thingamajiggies. But anyone will havta agree that they have a model and a history of doing great work.

  2. Thank you for the response. Renaming is a good idea. I am thinking whether we should refer to it as ‘Illustration of Kindness’. It is a common practice for illustrations to carry a watermark saying ‘this if ONLY an illustration’. Positive thinkers then look forward to a better real life model, whenever the time comes ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. I agree, Indu. Many things are limited first, by their unneccessarily limited definitions and second, from the lack of being challenged or questioned. However, there are mavericks and entrepreneurs in every field who do precisely that. And their numbers increase everyday, so there is hope yet. ๐Ÿ™‚

    There are innumerable ways to implement ‘social service’ and I’m sure that there are many little things that do not to come to light, especially at organised events like the one you attended. In fact, I think its time that the phrase “social service” be replaced. It has come to be associated with a martyr like, charity-based, often branded set of actions. Have you heard of the phrase “Random and senseless acts of Kindness”? Wouldn’t that be nice- calling it something like “Sensless Kindness”? ๐Ÿ™‚ What say you?

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