"Wondering what a social activist is, is a challenge before us, the society and the omnipotent state. Taking up the challenges, involved in the practice of social work needs to be reflected in defining or re-defining social work," she said.
"It is with the interactions in group that we learn and grow with. These interactions when they are peaceful, democratic, accommodative and humane, there seems to be no problem around us. But, when there are controversies, violence, and incidences of discrimination, the problems begin," Ms Patkar added.
"What should social work be for? And what is it that it should be against? It should be spelt out with every interaction that we ourselves engage in," she reminded the participants of the workshop.
"In a broader context," she added that, "when even the slumlords also call themselves as social workers and most politicians who are called to be social workers, anyone who works with any section of society, if he/she is to be called a social worker, then what is unique about us who are part of a professional training institute or professional practices that are considered as professional social work? I think our institute really gives us a well defined history and chronology on how the social work has moved ahead and we have to tap what is unique about us".
"It is the basic right to life that we all work for. From individual to community to society, are we really challenging everything that goes against these rights? It is a question that every professional social worker should ask themselves. We are professionals and we need not be within a binding framework of either the state or the particular context (that we work in)," she added.
Prof. S.B. Arora, the acting Vice Chancellor of IGNOU during his address to the students pointed out that the practice of social work is not taught but comes from within.
Now, IGNOU has programmmes till the research level in social work as well.
"The main aim of the workshop is to highlight and discuss on the social work education and profession since it began in India and to discover and at the same time to explore the ingenuity and growth of the profession over the years. The outcome of the workshop will help social work students, practitioners, and academicians to identify priority areas in strengthening the profession," said Dr. Rose Nembiakkim, Director, School of Social Work, IGNOU while highlighting the need to evolve with the changing demands and concerns.
The workshop was attended by academicians from Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Jamia MIlia Islamia (JMI), Rajiv Gandhi University (RGU), Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Delhi School of Social Work (DSSW) along with more than 100 IGNOU students. Dr. G Mahesh, Assistant Professor, SOSW, IGNOU, delivered the vote of thanks.
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