Mahatma Gandhi Wrote, “Since you have time to spare, meet Narandas Gandhi and ask him to give you some light social work.”17 Social work addresses the barriers, inequities and injustices that exist in society. It responds to crises and emergencies as well as to everyday personal and social problems. Social work utilizes a variety of skills, techniques, and activities consistent with its holistic focus on persons and their environments.
Social work interventions range from primarily person-focused psychosocial processes to involvement in social policy, planning and development. These include counseling, clinical social work, group work, social pedagogical work, and family treatment and therapy as well as efforts to help people obtain services and resources in the community. Interventions also include agency administration, community organization and engaging in social and political action to impact social policy and economic development.
The holistic focus of social work is universal, but the priorities of social work practice will vary from country to country and from time to time depending on cultural, historical, and socio-economic conditions. Mahatma Gandhi wrote, “Valji’s nephew Rasik is studying in Shamaldas College. College students are often found doing silent social work while studying. See if you can tempt Rasik. If he comes forward, he may also be able to draw his friends into the work.”18
Mahatma Gandhi Wrote, “I have no doubt that untouchability is going. It can go quicker, but we have not got a corps of social workers adequate to the task. It is social work indeed, but more than that it is great spiritual effort. If untouchability remains, Hinduism perishes and with it Hindu culture. And if that calamity comes, the whole face of India will be changed. The ruining of Hindu culture is fraught with incalculable harm for the general culture of India. But I am firm in my faith that untouchability is bound to go, it is going.
Here you will see I am surrounded by untouchables. We have, for instance, for our cook an untouchable boy. He never knew cooking; certainly he did not know how to cook hygienically. He is now learning it. He is a fine boy, eager to learn, and hard-working. This process is going on throughout India. The best of our workers are trying to work amongst the untouchables in this fashion. That is the complete reform.”19 Mahatma Gandhi Wrote, “There is no direct relation between Harijan workers and khadi. Even those who wear foreign clothes can serve Harijans. Therefore keep on doing social work without paying any heed to the criticism.”20
Mahatma Gandhi Wrote, “Of course what is true of the Army is more or less true of all Christian Missions. Their social work is undertaken not for its own sake but as an aid to the salvation of those who receive social service. The history of India would have been written differently if the Christians had come to India to live their lives in our midst and permeate ours with their aroma if there was any. There would then have been mutual goodwill and utter absence of suspicion.
But say some of them, If what you say had held good with Jesus there would have been no Christians. To answer this would land me in a controversy in which I have no desire to engage. But I may be life. He called men to repentance. It was he who said, not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”21
Mahatma Gandhi Wrote, “A gathering of some workers of Kathiawar was held some time ago in Bhavnagar. After a great deal of discussion, a resolution was passed, at the instance of Shri Nanabhai, that they should do social work under my guidance and be governed by the restrictions imposed by me.”22
Mahatma Gandhi Wrote, “It is my keen desire that you should take up some social work with this idea in your mind, if for no other reason, that you are thus identifying yourself with the poor.”23 Mahatma Gandhi Wrote, “Your work seems to be progressing well. The important thing is that you are at peace there and have got independent social work. You should take up sanitation work. If you succeed in cleaning up Mahua, you will deserve a medal.”24
Mahatma Gandhi Wrote, “Perhaps you do not know that I felt compelled to come into the political field because I found that I could not do even social work without touching politics. I feel that political work must be looked upon in terms of social and moral progress. In democracy no part of life is untouched by politics. Under the British you cannot escape politics in the good sense. It embraces the whole life. All who breathe must pay a tax. That is British rule in India. Take the salt tax for instance. It concern everybody. The collector of revenue and the policeman are the only symbols by which millions in India’s villages know British rule. One cannot sit still while the people are being ravaged.”25
Mahatma Gandhi Wrote, “Intellectual work is important and has an undoubted place in the scheme of life. But what I insist on is the necessity of physical labour. No man, I claim, ought to be free from that obligation. It will serve to improve even the quality of his intellectual output. I venture to say that in ancient times Brahmins worked with their body as with their mind. But even if they did not, body labour is a proved necessity at the present time. In this connection I would refer to the life of Tolstoy and how he made famous the theory of bread-labour first propounded in his country by the Russian peasant Bondaref.”26
Social work emerged as a profession out of the early efforts of churches and philanthropic groups to relieve the effects of poverty, to bring the comforts of religion to the poor, to promote temperance and encourage thrift, to care for children, the sick, and the aged, and to correct the delinquent. Orphanages and homes for the elderly were typical results of these activities. The word charity best describes the early activities, which were aimed at the piecemeal alleviation of particular mal-adjustments. In such charitable work the principal criterion in determining aid to families was worthiness, while the emphasis in later social work was on restoring individuals to normal life both for their own sake and for the sake of the community.
- 17-LETTER TO BHUJANGILAL CHHAYA;March 28, 1935
- 18-LETTER TO CHHAGANLAL JOSHI; September 25, 1935
- 19-VOL. 69: 16 MAY, 1936- 19 OCTOBER, 1936, Page- 284
- 20-LETTER TO MEHRABEHN ZABWALA; August 22, 1936
- 21-Harijan, 12-6-1937
- 22-VOL. 72 : 6 JULY, 1937 – 20 FEBRUARY, 1938, Page- 103
- 23-LETTER TO S. K. VAIDYA; May 25, 1944
- 24-LETTER TO MANU GANDHI; August 19, 1946
- 25-VOL.92 : 9 AUGUST, 1946 – 6 NOVEMBER, 1946, Page- 230
- 26-Harijan, 23-2-1947