Situating RASS in the Historical Milieu


An interesting mix of Gandhian spirit and the western model of development had been churned out by RASS in India. It considers itself as a national level community based organization.  

It had a staunch belief that poverty breeds isolation (of women and children) and in the process the role of NGO was crucial, but not total. Its disbelief in the overarching and eternally self-imposing role of NGOs into people’s problems had a direct relation to Gandhian spirit of village reconstruction where people are the owners. Extending the same logic the organisation makes it an institutional mandate that it would make efforts towards making common people participate in socio-environment projects, economic progression and agricultural innovations. The organisation sees poverty as a social phenomenon. There is a realization that empowering poor is a long process and cannot be measured. Efficacy can be seen only when people become self-reliant through participation in the process of development interventions (54. Brochure, Balaji Bala Vikas: 2006). These basic ideas and fundamental attributes of the organisational thinking paved way for Rashtriya Seva Samithi to evolve as an agency driven by a historical conscience, contextual considerations in the process of development continuum, a clear perspective on the role for self and other and faith in democratic action and legislative support.




Development Perspective of RASS

Consequential to its basic ideas, Rashtriya Seva Samithi fructified its vision into one that visualizes itself as a peoples’ initiative for protecting their rights, without discrimination on the basis of caste, colour, creed, region or religion. Its mission statement also echoes similar objectives. It declares that involvement in promotion of human rights, dignity and gender balance call for peoples’ social, economic and political participation. As sequels to vision and mission, the organisation set the programme strategies and objectives – A. bottom-up planning; (participatory planning and development approach); programme implementation through peoples’ collectives; multi-disciplinary approach; stakeholder capacity building; community resource management; linkages with government; creation of social capital. B. organizing people through community-based institutions; capacity building of vulnerable population; mobilizing people towards good governance; networking; economic empowerment through collective action; playing the bridge role between people and government; promoting sustainable development; advocacy and lobbying.

No NGO is equipped to deal with the macro socio-economic policies or micro structural issues in totality.  It is only through legislation and democratic action that the fundamental structural issues can be resolved.  But NGOs can play a pivotal role in bringing reforms through social action and development models at micro level with an important rider on suitable replication of the same. It is towards this ultimate goal that RASS rededicates itself. In light of conflicting views expressed on development frameworks and controversies surrounding the selective discrimination used by government in choosing partners, Rashtriya Seva Samithi offers a good example of how an organisation with its roots firmly entrenched in rural areas could extend its presence to the national level with active support and coordination from democratic government.