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Analysing the Concept of Voluntarism

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Published: Mon, 5 Dec 2016

In India, Voluntary Organizations are known by different terms like charity, society etc. The term voluntarism is derived from the Latin word ‘Voluntas’ which means is will. The will includes all forms of impulses, passion, appetites or desires. A number of definitions of voluntary organization have been put by different scholar from different discipline.

Bourdillon (1945) define that “voluntary organization is the product of the blood, sweat and toil of a few individuals who are known for their persistent efforts for achievement of their sincere aspiration.”

Michael Banton (1968) an anthropologist says that, it is a group organized for the pursuit of one interest or of several interest in common. Usually, it is contrasted with voluntary groups serving a greater variety of ends, such as kin group, castes, social class, and communities.”

Professor N.R. Indamdar (1987) says, voluntary organization in development to be of durable use to the community has to nature a strong desire and impulse for community development among its members, to be economically viable, to possess dedicated and hard working leadership and to command resources of expertise in the function undertaken.”

According to Lord Beveridge (1979), a voluntary organization, properly speaking, is an organization, where its workers are paid or unpaid, govern by its own members without external control.”

On the basis of above definitions, it can be said that voluntary organizations are those organizations which have volunteered to engage themselves in service without the object of profit earning. It has the character to promote public welfare or social improvement in some special regards. Member of such bodies works together for a common end. These agencies are also known as non-governmental organization. Voluntary organizations and non-governmental organizations are used as interchangeable terms. But such uses are not correct. There is a technical difference between voluntary organization and non-governmental organization.

Defining the boundaries of the voluntary or non-governmental organization in India is a difficult task. On the one hand, the voluntary organizations include self help facilities, women’s groups, credit unions, green lobbyists, professional associations in field such as research and advocacy, service delivery, relief and rehabilitation etc. On the other hand, NGOs includes all formations of voluntary organizations in addition to business associations, trade unions, foundations, consultants, cultural bodies, health and educational institutions, cooperative societies and religious organizations, etc. Hence, it can be said that voluntary organizations are subset of non-governmental organizations. It means all voluntary organizations are non-governmental organizations but all non-governmental organizations can not be voluntary organization. The most important feature of voluntary organization is, they are formed voluntarily, are willing to work, on the behalf of other, are independent, are not for profit, not self serving.

The role of voluntary organization is very wide. Now days lots of work done by voluntary organizations. These organizations are like – Tuberculosis association of India, Indian medical association, Indian red cross, National society for prevention of blindness, Hind Kusht Niwarn Sangh, and Christian medical association of India. Beside its various service organization like – lion, rotaries, Jaycus as well as certain religious societies like- Arya Samaj, Sanatam Dharam Sabha, Ramakrishna missionary also contributing to the human welfare. But unfortunately there is no co-ordination among the various societies in the certain area. While the areas where there is grate need of these organization get neglected. It is mention in ‘National Health Policy’ that there should be supportive relationship between these organizations. The gap between the need and service has to be abridged and that also required change in the attitude as well as the practice on the part of government and its officials towards the involvement of the voluntary organizations. At the same time, the voluntary organizations also have to establish their credibility, accountability and increasing professionalism.

Health is not only the provisioning of medical care but it also include various component like sanitation, housing, nutrition, supply of the safe drinking water and also the reduce the prevailing high rate of morbidity and mortality in the country. All these activities could be take care of by voluntary organization with the calibration of those service providing agencies which are working for human welfare and for improvement in quality of life.

In developed country the aim of voluntary organizations is in prevention and promotion of health services like on preventing smoking, alcohol consumption, accidents, over nutrition, physical activities and stress. But in developing countries focus is more on improvement in nutrition, hygiene, and housing, working condition, providing clear water for supply, food, vector bone disease and reduction in birth rate.

EMERGENCE OF VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATION IN HEALTH SERVICES:

India has a long history and tradition of voluntary action. It is providing services to the sick, needy and poor. The main role of voluntary organization was in reaching out and mobilizing people and their insight in to ground level problems. The forms of voluntary organizations were varied. It was working in a different form of institution and their success attracted national and international attention towards them.

In the early phase up to nineteenth century the genesis of the voluntarism was in the form of charity, philanthropy and relief activities. But the voluntary effort was limited those days. Mostly kings and the chiefs used to provide free kitchens during famine and shelter to homeless. This kind of voluntary work was due to belief in the Dharma Sastra.

Prior to nineteen century family kinship, cast and the village community were the main institutions who were providing the facility to the needy people. In this century, voluntarism gain new stimulation.

The first half of the nineteenth century was the era of social reform movement. In this period some people like Raja Ram Mohan Roy, Ravindra Nath Tagoor, Dayanand Saraswati, Swami Vivekananda were fighting against the rigid social evil like Sati Pratha, Child Marriage, prohibition of widow remarriage and the caste directed practice. During this period the voluntary organization was based on ‘Reformist approach’. This period was seen as shift of Christian missionary in to voluntary action. The second half of the nineteenth century was the period of the process of institutionalization of social and religious movement. And a large number of reform associated organizations in different part of the century were attracting many people to voluntary work.

There are several movements in India which have grate influence on development of voluntarism in welfare of society.

The Christian Missionaries movement:

In the last quarter of the eighteen century, European was converting the Indian native of Hindustan to the Christian religion. (Basu, 1985). Till 1817, Missionaries motivated almost 700 people in and around Serampore and converted them in to Christian. Along with this conversion they started charitable work and fight against social problems. A huge number of school, hospitals, literacy center, vocational tanning center etc were started in this period. In fact it was the starting of the voluntary action on the part of the missionaries. In the period of 1947 there were decreasing pattern seen in these institution but after independence many Christian missionary have promoted voluntary organization to serve the vulnerable people.

Movement against Casteism:

The other factor in the promotion of the voluntary organization is movement against casteism. From 1980s many organized societies initiated cast movement in different part of the India. For instance Satya Sodhak Samaj (1873) etc. these organization were devided in two type on the basis of approach. One group was following the Gandhian approach and second was non-Gandhian. Gandhian group never followed inter-cast marriage or taking food with higher cast people but non-Gandhian group did the same.

Gandhian Movement:

The idea of this movement was to reconstruction of society through social struggle. His movement during 1920s and 30s aimed at the welfare of all human beings and creation of a stateless and classless society by means of ‘Swaraj’ and ‘Sarvodaya’. In this regard, Gandhi started various program like Khadi and village industries, abolition of untouchability, village sanitation, basic education, tribal labor welfare, women welfare etc. The movement wanted to make village communities self reliant, self sufficient and free so that they would stand up for their own rights. In 1938 by the help of ‘Santi Senas’ he made his movement strong. It was the most systematic attempts toword development of moral and spiritual value among the people. Another aspect BHOODAN was initiated by Vinoba Bhave in 1951 after the death of Gandhi Ji. The objective of this movement was to effect a voluntary transformation in the distribution of lands in rural India according to the principle of equality. This nature of movement promoted voluntary sector in India.”

There are other movements like lion movement, women movement, environment movement, Chipko movement, Baba Amte movement which were playing important role in the emergence of Voluntarism in social welfare.

All these development and movements had impact on health. It was resulted a similar kind of voluntary action on health. In modern times, Christian missionaries initiated the tradition of running charitable dispensaries and hospitals (Mukhopadhya 1987). Much latter Hindu charitable organizations like Ramakrishna Mission also opened charitable dispensaries. But at this time the character of voluntary organization was ambiguous.

In the period of 20s and 30s voluntary action in the health field was influenced by the Gandhian ideology. The first of voluntarism was guided by a humanist concern and an anti-colonial and nationalistic sprit. The concern of the ill health and communicable disease was created among the intellectuals and medical professionals. This resulted in the formation of voluntary bodies like the Hindu Kustha Nivaran Sangh and the TB association of India. The Indian Medical Association was also born out of voluntary effort by nationalistic mind doctors. These doctors were inspired by the welfare state movement of United Kingdom and socialized health service of Soviet Union (Banerji 1985).

In All India medical Conference at Lahore in 1929, Dr. B.C. Roy in his presidential period had called for an organized voluntary effort by the Indian medical association. He stated that if we want to do any thing extra, we have to form voluntary organization for social services, for giving aid during epidemic, for raising sanitary consciousness among the mass.” Government health statistic data shows that after independence there was a sudden rise in voluntary health sector in the profile, wideness and range of activity.

ROLE OF VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATION IN POLICY AND PROGRAM:

The role of voluntary organization is recognized in the level of policy implementation. Ministry of health and family welfare involved to the NGOs and voluntary agencies in various program and policy as supplement. The credibility of these second and third sector agencies is to bring the change in social and personal attitude, perception and behavior of the community. The role of these sectors is not only in supplement of health and family welfare services provided by the government, it also helps in the bringing up the communication gap between the people and the government.

The ministry has several centrally sponsored and central sector schemes aiming at fulfill the national commitment to attain the goal of “Health for All”, in accordance with Alma Ata Declaration of 1978 to which India is also a signatory. In these schemes government provides funds and start working with to voluntary organization for the success of schemes.

The scheme for improvement of medical services launched by government seeks to provide medical care to rural and highly density slum population of the country. The objective of this scheme was to encourage voluntary organizations to provide improved medical services to rural and high density slum population in the country. A program ‘Special Health scheme for Rural Area’ was launched by the Ministry of health and family welfare. The main purpose the scheme was to encourage the voluntary organizations in setting up a new hospitals/ dispensaries in rural area where the existing medical care facilities are inadequate.” A lot of National Health Program like National Anti Malaria Program, National Leprosy Eradication Program, Revised National Tuberculosis Program, National Aids Control Program, National Cancer Control Program and Drug De-Addiction Program launched by the ministry of health and family welfare with the collaboration of various ministries of government like Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. In these programs the financial assistance was made to voluntary organizations to undertake different kind of survey, education, awareness, treatment and provide services especially to the weaker section of the society. In the sixties the technology oriented Family Planning approach was launched. In this program the role of voluntary organization was to ‘covert the family planning program from a routine government program to a people’s movement.” In the year 1983, the national health policy, emphasis the need for “securing the small family norm through voluntary efforts and moving towards the goal of population stabilization”.

In 1997, the alma-Ata conference held under the joint sponsorship of the WHO and the UNICEF fixed a goal of ‘Health for All by 2000 A.D’ (WHO/UNICEF 1978). This conference finds out alternative approaches to meet the basic health need of the third world people. In this declaration it was mentions that we have to achieve the target- infant mortality rate below 60, prenatal mortality to 30, crude death rate to 9, maternal mortality below 2, life expectancy at birth to 64, and net reproductive arte 1. These goals look unachievable without the help of second and third sectors. The conclusion drawn by the report goes strongly in favour of Voluntary organization.

Through out all worlds, voluntary sector has important role in provisioning of the primary health care in adverse situation. The seventh five year plan and National Health Policy emphasis the importance of voluntary sector to achieve the health care goals.

REFLECTION OF VOLUNTARY ORGANIZATIONS IN FIVE YEAR PLAN: A BRIEF ANALYSIS

After the independence India started the five year plan in 1951. The assumption behind it was that the state would take the responsibility to eliminate the poverty, ignorance, disease and inequality of opportunity. The plan took in to consideration the available resources, made adequate provisioning of the social welfare services, and prioritising of different developmental programs. In these plans the role of voluntary organization was recognized effectively.

In the first fine year plan voluntary organization were taken in to consideration as a social service agency. Thus social service agencies provide workers to help village Panchaits and cooperation societies. It was recognise in the first five year plan that these organization will help in training of workers and their service could be avail in specific area. It was realised that voluntary organization could be better in rural areas for the constriction and repair of sources of water supply, roads and sanitation works for which state has no resources. In the national advisory committee for public cooperation it was recognized that voluntary organization will play an important role in national plan by developing their own activities. In this plan mostly voluntary organization were engaged in the training of midwives, dais and health workers and establishing of large number of maternity and child health centres.

In woman and child welfare, social education and community mobilising, it was realised that public cooperation through voluntary organizations could give valuable results. The Planners admitted, “It is necessary to coordinate the programmes of various voluntary organizations. Such coordination calls for a common approach and a cooperative outlook on the part of the organisers of voluntary social work”.

Public participation in the work of voluntary organization was appreciated in the second plan. As stated by the plan “by harnessing voluntary effort and local manpower resources, physical targets in the Plan can be supplemented in many fields and even greatly exceeded”. This statement was inspired by the two organizations which were working in those days that were Bharat Sewak Samaj and the Kasturba Gandhi National Memorial Trust. In this period the theme of voluntary organization was social welfare. Central Social Welfare Board (CSWB) established state level social Welfare Advisory Board in order to reach to the local NGOs and release funds.”

But in second five year plan the role of voluntary organizations did not have the span. It was limited only to social welfare. In this period the central social welfare board was set up with the object of assisting voluntary organizations in organizing welfare program for women, children, and the handicapped. But their potential was not recognized in policy planning and implementation.

During the third five year plan there were gradual increments in voluntary organizations in quality and quantity both. During this period they were engaged in flood control, anti-water logging and irrigation. There work based on technology. Rural industries and health was the main focus. It was the period when individual cooperation got institutionalized and Nation Advisory Committee for public cooperation lost its credibility. This plan acknowledged, “it is essential that the help of voluntary organization labour organization and other association in various fields of national life should be sought on as large a scale as possible and integrated in to the practical programme of work adopted in each area”. The role of voluntary organizations recognized in the displaced tribal, resettlement and rehabilitation of the people also.

In fourth plan the focuses was on support and strengthen the voluntary organizations to build up their capability for continuous work. The family welfare and child welfare program was under in partnership between voluntary organization and Pnachyti Raj. A study was also set up by the commission on social welfare. This commission made several recommendation concerning grants to voluntary organizations.

In fifth five year plan financial assistance was given to voluntary organizations providing medical care and implementation of family planning program. Voluntary organizations started to conduct experiment, like youth against famine, and involvement of youth in development work.

Sixth plan was on same theme of social welfare. The area of voluntary work was extending in energy sources, water management, soil conservation, disaster management and nutrition.

Seventh plan is seen as emergence of voluntary organizations in planning and implementation of program and policy. There were free to plan their own schemes and follow the methodology they thought best in provisioning of the service and reduction of poverty”. They were offering grants in aid to help set up income generating unit for needy women. Regarding health, Union Ministry of health and family Welfare launched many scheme for realising fund to voluntary organizations like scheme for improvement of medical services, improvement of hospitals in rural or urban areas, promotion and development of voluntary blood donation program, special health scheme for setting up small hospitals/ dispensaries in rural area only.

The key goal of eighth plan was socio-economic development. It was believed that the association of voluntary organizations could be cost-effective in the integrated development of rain fed areas, watershed management, and agricultural extension. Voluntary organizations made a tremendous contribution in raising and promoting the small family norms by motivation and education of women, provisioning of the antenatal and postnatal care. The role of government has shift from service delivery to facilitating voluntary organizations to fill the gap in social services. Voluntary organizations were participating effetely in decision making, and accountability from the state.

The ninth five year plan was almost silent on voluntary organizations. It has been realised that the voluntary organizations are actually complementary in nature. Both the government and voluntary sector are to work on a reciprocal basis. In this plan there was liberty to each ministry to allocate funds to voluntary organization for various projects and programmes.


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