NOTES AND COMMENTS AN EXPERIMENT IN PLANNED SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION INDIA...
NOTES AND COMMENTS
AN EXPERIMENT IN PLANNED SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION
INDIA is a land of poverty. Nearly 90 per cent of the population can be
classed as poor. This poverty, however, has not the same expression
at every place. There are at least three major types of poverty in India :
(1) the poverty of contentment; (2) the poverty of discontent; (3) the
poverty of decline and defeat. Millions of our peasants have known poverty
for centuries and yet they live their lives in contentment and even happiness,
unaware of a better standard of life or the possibilities of achievements and
knowledge. The urban working classes, who witness the achievements of
science and industry and the expressions of wealth and opportunities, gradually
enter the second class. They see before them a better future and begin to
take advantage of education and other opportunities, struggling and striving
to become better and more prosperous. To the third class belong the poor
who have known the blessings of opportunities, education and wealth ; but
who, due to various causes, are introduced to want, poverty and decline.
The task of social reconstruction is to bring all classes of people to a
normal standard of existence where there is health, education, efficiency and
capacity for social and cultural achievement. This is mainly a task of
rehabilitation, of restoring deviations from normal to normal, of improving
the individual, restoring happiness and unity to the family, and vitality and
organization to the social group.
SOME FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES OP SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION
Certain fundamental principles should govern the planning of social
1. Planning within well-defined geographical boundaries, irrespective
of caste or creed, affords the best chances of success.
2. The leadership and organisational staff must be qualified in the
theory and methods of social reconstruction.
3. The aim must be rehabilitation and not merely relief and
There must be a personal and direct approach to the poor.
5. All welfare activities need to be evaluated and correlated to a pre-
determined plan of social reconstruction.
86 NOTES AND COMMENTS
In India, social welfare on a class, caste or sectarian basis has been in
vogue. Activities are, therefore, scattered over extensive areas and adminis-
tered by central authorities, which often do not maintain a contact with the
poor and the activities that are provided for their welfare. The neighbourhood
or community afford the greatest scope to leadership for efficient organisation,
supervision and experimentation. The place and the physical environment
provide a natural boundary for the execution of a programme that can be made
most suitable to solve prevailing problems. A plan of social reconstruction,
with the village, locality or street as unit is perhaps the best solution to the
communal problem, as real problems will be faced by different communities
together and there will be a check on interested parties who exploit ignorant
persons by focussing the attention of the poor on less vital issues.
The major success of any plan depends upon the qualifications, know-
ledge and experience of leadership. By now it ought to be clear that the task of
social reconstruction is difficult and involves the knowledge of problems and of
the way to solve them, of social and individual psychology and of the ability to
deal effectively with fast changing social phenomena.
The importance of direct and personal contact is easily realised if the
welfare worker visualises his task as that of moulding the lives of individuals,
families and societies and guiding the minds of people to work on constructive
and creative lines. Personal contact affords the best opportunity for gaining
knowledge of real problems, their intensity and effect. This makes planning
easy and effective.
The aim of social work has been the subject of discussion and experi-
mentation for centuries. It should now be conceded that mere palliatives,
relief and amelioration, far from solving problems, create fresh problems
and lead to the degeneration and deterioration of the individual and society.
The real remedy lies in the effective and permanent eradication of poverty.
The family must become the unit of social health. The free individual must
be able to contribute the best towards human evolution. That is the real task
of social welfare.
Imitation is a grave danger to social work. It is undesirable that wel-
fare activities should be started at random simply because similar work is being
done in some other place, without any consideration of existing circumstances
and without the availability of efficient leadership and good organisation.
A CONCRETE PROJECT
The present article is not an attempt to elaborate the theories which
ought to govern a planned effort for social welfare. A better insight can be
obtained by describing an actual attempt to put theory into practice. The
PLANNED SOCIAL RECONSTUCTION 87
following details describe the history, plan, methods and organisation of the
"Welfare Centre at the Sir Ratan Tata Buildings, Cowasji Jehangir Colony,
Bombay. The Welfare Centre deals with nearly 250 poor Parsi families. It
is thus a sectarian endeavour, though the plan is prepared on a neighbourhood
basis. The sectarian approach could not be avoided due to conditions which
govern finance and the conditions prevailing in the Parsi community. The
leadership of the Welfare Centre, however, maintains a very broad outlook in
the conduct of all activities.
The welfare plan is a sequel to the alarming increase of poverty in the
Parsi community. About 3,000 families are maintained by doles and nearly
4,000 able-bodied persons are victims of chronic unemployment. The con-
sequences of such poverty have been found to tell on the health and morale of
the individual and the family. This poverty exists in spite of the annual help
of about five lacs of rupees which are given away in the shape of doles and far
larger sums which are spent on maintaining hospitals and clinics, educational
institutions, industrial homes and related activities. During the last ten years
more than a crore of rupees have been spent on providing cheap houses for
The actual conditions prevailing in the community were studied by a
very detailed socio-economic survey which was carried out by the Parsi Statis-
tical Bureau in 1939. The investigations obtained data on family history
and migration, housing, health, education, economic conditions and
unemployment in 11,000 Parsi families. The survey revealed the urgent need
of planned social welfare work if a serious crisis in the community was to be
The Sir Ratan Tata Charities decided to spend about eight lacs of rupees
to build eleven buildings on a large estate which was presented to them. The
buildings were planned to house nearly 250 tenants. A good plan for the build-
ings with up-to-date sanitary arrangement, large rooms, adequate provisions
for air and sunlight and necessary conveniences was prepared by a well- known
firm of Bombay architects. The tenements are of three types : (1) one room and
kitchen to house families of not more than 4 persons ; (2) one large room and
kitchen to house families of 5 persons; (3) two rooms and kitchen to house
larger families. The rents of the tenements vary between Rs. 9 and Rs. 13
Nearly 2,100 applications were received for the unoccupied flats. Each
application contained details of family composition by age, sex and relation-
ship, as well as social and economic data. A further special house-to-house
inquiry into the conditions of prospective tenants was carried out by a student
of the Sir Dorabji Tata Graduate School of Social Work who is now appointed
88 NOTES AND COMMENTS
Superintendent of the Colony. The following principles guided the selection of
tenants who were later to receive the benefit of planned social welfare :
1. That housing needs should prevail over economic needs.
2. That the benefit of housing should go to the largest number of per-
sons that could be housed without causing overcrowding and insani-
3. That simple families should receive preference over lone persons,
mixed families and joint families.
4. That the benefit of housing should go to families with an income of
less than Rs. 100/- per month, provided such families are not desti-
The benefit of housing was given to families living in prostitution and
insanitary areas and slums ; stranded families ; families living in overcrowded
tenements ; and families paying a rent which was more than 33 %
The need of good housing can be seen from the fact stated above, that
about 2,100 families applied for these 250 tenements.
The Trustees entrusted the plan and programme of social welfare to the
Zoroastrian Welfare Association. The Association carries out its work with
the help of trained and specially qualified leadership. 130 social workers
contribute between 2 and 20 hours of work per week to this Association.
There are three primary approaches to the subject of social welfare.
These are: (1) the personal approach ; (2) the family approach; and (3) the
community approach. By utilising a method involving all the three types of
social approach, a dynamic and co-ordinated plan of social welfare is able to
affect all the important aspects of the lives of all the individuals residing in
Personal approach is obtained by means of special activities for selected
groups. The important groups are : (1) children between 5 and 12 ; (2) boys
between 12 and 21; (3) girls between 12 and 21 ; (4) male adults between 21
and 55, and (5) female adults between 21 and 55.
Infant children are not neglected by the welfare programme. There is
a Maternity and Child Welfare Clinic in the immediate neighbourhood which
caters to this section of the community. The Clinic provides free milk and
essential nutrition and medical care for the children, and also works for the
education and training of the mothers. Family planning, involving instruction
in birth control methods, is also a part of the Clinic's programme.
The most important activities for the benefit of children between 5 and
12 are : (1) a pre-school group; (2) a primary school; (3) a kiddy club, and
(4) a play centre.
PLANNED SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION 89
The Nursery School has a staff of trained teachers. It has the advantage
of an excellent building with playgrounds and a play-shed. The playground
of the Nursery School has been specially planned for the purpose and trees
have been planted to provide cool shade. The playground is equipped with
the necessary apparatus required for various games. With the assistance of
qualified medical experts the following balanced diet is provided to the children;
The curriculum of the school includes a special activity course which is
suitable to the requirements of working class children. The course is based on
the curriculum of labour schools in Europe. The child is introduced to the
principal forms of matter used in modern agricultural and industrial produc-
tion. There is a graded course of work-processes which involves the training
NOTES AND COMMENTS
Of the senses, the development of skills, and the assimilation of major work
habits. The activity course, which is in addition to the other items of nursery
and primary school training, includes reading, writing, story-telling, singing,
drawing and kindergarten work.
The kiddy club is an organized group where children between 5 and 12
may spend their play hours in the evening, when the play-centre is not func-
tioning. The club is under an instructor who provides planned play and other
activities which are interesting and familiar to children. Activities for boys
and girls include : (1) evening play-centre; (2) boys club; (3) girls club, and
(4) nature club.
The play centre is the most important welfare activity for the benefit of
persons between 5 and 20 years of age.
The ideal of the play centre is to provide healthy, interesting and
organised pastimes for young children, boys and girls, with the end in view of
developing character and preparing the young to become energetic, useful,
healthy and social members of the community.
The aims of the play-centre are :
(1) To provide suitable play to interest various age-groups of both the
(2) To train members in disciplined enjoyment, self-government and
(3) To provide outdoor life for the young.
The method of the play-centre is to organize children residing in small,
well-defined localities into play-groups managed by themselves ; and organized,
directed and supervised by persons who are friends of the young.
The entire play centre is treated as one unit. The play is divided accord-
ing to heights of children into the following sections, under a section leader
who can also be a group leader :
(1) The Nursery Section, having both boys and girls.
(2) The Junior Girls Section.
(3) The Junior Boys Section.
(4) The Senior Girls Section.
(5) The Senior Boys Section.
Each Section is divided under a group leader into groups with not more
than 25 members.
The director, the superintendents and the instructors are in charge of
the direction of the play centre. The efficiency officer, the supervisor, the
quarter-master and the health supervisor are responsible for the management
and supervision of the centre. Sections and groups are managed by section
and group leaders,
PLANNED SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION
Games played at the centres are divided into the following groups :
(1) free play without leadership ; (2) nursery activities ; (3) organised group
and team games; (4) major team games like volley-ball, basket-ball, cricket,
hockey, captain ball, hutu-tu and ata-pata; and (5) indoor games. Other allied
activities of the play centre include excursions, cycling, skating, swimming,
tramping and camping.
The aims of the boys and girls clubs are :
1. To develop native talent by giving encouragement and providing
opportunity for self-expression.
2. To foster skills by engaging the members in the elementary practice
of applied sciences and arts.
3. To give opportunity for healthy social and intellectual recreation.
4. To build character and inculcate in the young a spirit of service,
comradeship and brotherhood.
5. To create a love for outdoor life.
Activities of the boys clubs include elementary handymanship, mech-
anics, electrical mechanics, applied chemistry, painting and drawing, hobbies,
carpentry, fretwork, reading of interesting boys literature, radio and cinema
for educational purposes, outdoor life, camping, visits to interesting places
and social activities.
Activities of the girls clubs include drawing, painting, singing, music,
embroidery, knitting, raffia-work, basket-making, flower-making, cooking
The nature club aims at creating a love for nature and outdoor life in
the young. Hikes, excursions, tramps and camps are frequently organised and
boys undertake long distance hikes on bicyles.
The women's club is an organisation to provide recreation and adult
education to the most important section of the community. The programme
of the women's club includes socials, musical evenings, lectures, excursions,
visits to places of interest and classes in domestic economy, cooking, sewing
The men's club is an organisation with a programme similar to the
women's club. Recently a workingmen's recreation club has been planned
to provide daily recreation to men when they return from work. Indoor and
outdoor games are the chief attraction.
The above programme of group work is meant to enlist the interest,
enthusiasm and energy of every member of the community in a systematic
effort to improve the character, morale, education and ability of all the mem-
bers of the community. The continuous effect of a well planned programme
creates a new outlook, a happier reaction to life and a desire to better one's
NOTES AND COMMENTS
condition and get out of the clutches of chronic poverty.
The problem of the individual is the problem of society as a whole. In
ordinary cases it can be expected that a simple programme of group work on a
well organized basis will be enough to secure a measure of co-operation and
public spirit. This is, however, not true when families have been under the
spell of poverty for a generation. Maladjustments have not only crept into
the lives of individuals, but of families as a whole. In many cases bad housing
in the past, chronic unemployment, chronic sub-health and want of social
and recreational life have so undermined the morale and happiness of the
individual and the family that it becomes imperative to solve the problem of
the family by case work.
Case work is the most important and most difficult branch of social
work. The case of each family has to be studied historically ; the real causes
of poverty have to be traced ; the happiness and unity of the members of the
family have to be restored ; and such help as is essential for putting a family
on its legs has to be given.
This is done by a qualified and trained social worker who knows the
methods of family case work, individual and social psychology, and the right
methods of individual and social approach. This is the main task of the
superintendent of the colony. He is not merely an official in charge of housing,
but he maintains a friendly and individual contact with all the residents of
the colony. He visits each family as often as possible. In the first stage a
complete historical, social and economic record of the family is obtained. The
historical, marital, economic, social and religious life of the family is studied
and continuous addition to the initial data is obtained through case cards
which are filled in at each visit. Over and above this the superintendent
maintains the following records :
(1) A register of births, initiations, marriages and deaths.
(2) A register of employment and unemployment.
(3) A register of family health.
(4) A personal record of education of the student community.
The task of a superintendent is to be a friend, adviser, guide and helper
to the poor families who are constantly in need of aid. After general
direction is given to the family to improve conditions, the case is taken up for
The treatment includes such items as the settling of family disputes,
provision for employment or maintenance and the restoration of health.
Doles are given in rare cases, but the major object in view is to put the family
on a basis of independence, self-reliance and self-respect.
The community approach is attempted in six distinct directions :
PLANNED SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION
(1) housing: (2) general education ; (3) economic reconstruction: (4) organi-
sation of social life ; (5) health and (6) religion.
We have already said that houses are provided at cheap rent with ade-
quate amenities and sanitation. Overcrowding is avoided and slum conditions
are controlled by good planning and scientific housing management.
The superintendent of the colony is in general charge of housing. He
sees to it that the rules are obeyed, cleanliness maintained and an atmosphere
of peace and goodwill reigns in the neighbourhood. The actual management
and administration of housing is left to the manager of the colony who is re-
sponsible for the collection of rent, the control of the menial staff and the care
and maintenance of houses, playground and roads.
The trustees are the owners of the colony and the direction and control
of the colony is entrusted by them to a housing committee consisting of doctors,
civil engineers, ladies and welfare workers. This unofficial committee super-
vises the work of the staff, visits the tenants and looks after sanitation and
In all cases a human and friendly approach is maintained and the diffi-
culties of the poor are sympathetically considered and dealt with. This does
not mean that there is any want of firmness or that sentimentality is allowed
to overrule the needs of discipline and good organisation.
Education is the most important weapon of social reconstruction. Edu-
cation is not meant for children alone, but all human beings are constantly
required to educate themselves with the aid of social educational programmes.
The Welfare Centre is a large and extensive building which provides all
facilities for a full educational programme. It was built at a cost of Rs. 40,000
with a spacious hall and large rooms. It is specially planned for welfare and
educational activities. It is used as a workshop and centre for vocational
training in the day and for educational, recreational, and welfare activities in
the evening. The building includes an office, which is planned to be the centre
of propaganda and organisation, a sales shop, a health clinic and separate
rooms for activities of boys, girls, men, women and children.
The Welfare Centre has its own newspaper called Colony Jivan
Life). It is a monthly bulletin giving an educative editorial. Special items
are included to interest men, women and youth. The paper gives general
world news and local news and programmes. There is a leader's page to
guide local leadership.
An intellectual life is tonic to poverty. It is essential to awaken the
consciousness of the poor and make them realise the problems that confront
them and the obstacles they have to overcome. The reading room, library,
circulating library, debating society and dramatic club, all help to keep up
NOTES AND COMMENTS
the interest of the residents of the colony in the problems of life. Newspapers
and magazines are a good recreation to those who can spare some hours to
know the path this world is treading and the reading room is able to attract a
small audience till late hours in the night. A library must fit the requirements
and intellectual tastes of the public and therefore the selection of literature for
the library is an important problem. Good novels and easy literature are kept
in the library, whilst books on history, economics, science, politics, psycho-
logy and education are kept in a special circulating library for the benefit of
persons of better intellectual calibre. The debating society is patronised by old
and young, men and women alike, and it provides keen interest to the other-
wise dull life of the workingmen. The dramatic society is a further incentive
to local enthusiasts to portray local life and problems in action, colour, song
A distinct enthusiasm for the adult education programme is added by
the radio and the cinema. Educational films draw large audiences and visual
education has proved a most useful and efficient tool for adult education.
Small annual exhibitions on various topics are a good medium of edu-
cation. During the last two years two local exhibitions were organised—one
on " H o m e and Child W e l f a r e " and another on " A r t s and Crafts." Exhi-
bitions help to create interest in various aspects of life and bring to public
notice latent talents amongst the poor.
The Welfare Centre pavilion will house a local museum to perpetuate
interesting creations of the local population. The museum is to become a
permanent source of education.
Economic reconstruction is the most difficult part of the local welfare
programme. Three main branches seek to solve the economic problem : (1)
The employment bureau ; (2) development of local industries and handicrafts,
and (3) cooperative societies.
Unemployment is a major issue that has worried the Parsi community
for a long time. The Association gave a close study to the problem. The
facts and figures given by the Parsi Statistical Bureau were examined and it
was found that a scientifically and systematically managed employment
bureau was the crying need of the community.
The employment bureau gives special attention to every individual case
and all work is distributed into five divisions : (1) recording and investiga-
tion ; (2) grading of capacity ; (3) canvassing and study of employment
demand; (4) follow-up and vocational guidance, and (5) vocational training.
The above method has proved useful and successful. A detailed unem-
ployment record is prepared, giving a full survey of the economic conditions,
academic qualifications, experience and life history of the unemployed person.
PLANNED SOCIAL RECONSTRUCTION
The unemployed person then goes through a brief examination and an intensive
study of his case is undertaken by specially qualified persons. The result is
stated in a confidential report. Copies of the record and confidential report
are sent to employers. Advertisements in daily, local and up-country papers
are studied. Applications are made and dispatched to the probable employers,
together with recommendation letters from influential persons. In many cases
employers are interviewed by our officers. Some important friends work as
agents of our bureau in important offices and they let us know about vacancies
that occur. If a person is employed, contact is maintained with the person
recommended by us. Every necessary help and advice is given to him, and if
problems arise, they are solved for him. It is also seen that satisfactory,
regular and efficient service is given by persons recommended by us.
Where it is found during investigation that prospects of an unemployed
person will improve by further vocational training, arrangements are made for
apprenticeship in mills, factories, workshops, or for special training in type-
writing and shorthand classes. The experience of our employment bureau has
revealed that there is an urgent need to preserve the talents of artists and
craftsmen. This can only be done by well organised handicrafts, aided by
small machinery, where the skill of the unemployed can be employed and im-
proved, and jobs can be found for them.
The need was also disclosed for well organised, regional workhouses
where the able-bodied, middle-aged and uneducated unemployed can do some
useful work under proper supervision.
In order to take advantage of the welfare centre pavilion, consideration
was given to discovering a small industry for which there might be a demand
in the m a r k e t ; where there were possibilities for expansion ; which would
not require a very large capital outlay or involve any serious risk, and which
would enable us to employ artists, skilled craftsmen and others. Our study
revealed that there is a good deal of demand in the market for what is called
nursery furniture, specially constructed to suit the requirements of children
and at the same time provide for training and development. Spray-painted
furniture with ornamentation to suit a child's aesthetics, is much in demand,
and is able to obtain a fair price. A small industry has therefore been created
to produce kindergarten, nursery and infant school equipment ; furniture for
home nursery and classrooms; play articles like blocks, jig saws, fancy toys
and rag dolls; playground equipment; toys suitable for advertising purposes,
and sundry wooden, spray-painted articles.
Participation in social life is not merely social recreation, it is a contri-
bution towards social organisation, social unity and social harmony. The
leadership of the welfare organisation takes advantage of every opportunity
NOTES AND COMMENTS
to bring and keep the residents together and gradually weld them into a happy
and creative neighbourhood. Holidays are celebrated with social gatherings,
songs, music and entertainment. The athletic sports, annual exhibitions and
annual social gatherings are important occasions where all sections of the
community come together to realise the bonds that bind society together.
Frequent programmes of lectures and religious and other functions are also
organised to educate and create social consciousness. Over and above this, the
welfare centre and all its allied activities provide opportunities for social
action, social effort and social participation for the common good.
The colony is fortunate in having within its precincts a Fire Temple
which is under the direction of an educated priest who is a student in the Sir
Dorabji Tata Graduate School of Social Work. It is planned to make religion
a centre for cultivated brotherhood, peace and tolerance. A religious leader-
ship with learning and a broad outlook is able to overcome petty religious
bigotry, prejudices and superstitions; and instil real life into the mere form of
religion. Freed from the limitations of uneducated and over-ritualistic
priestcraft, religion is bound to grow to serve the people and contribute to-
wards such spiritual development as is necessary for every human being.
B. H. M.
THE CHILDREN'S CLUB AS A FACTOR IN CIVIC EDUCATION
SINCE the problem of group living is becoming more and more difficult with
the growing complexity of our modern civilisation, the purpose of a
democratic plan of education has come to include the development of
well-integrated individuals who can live successfully in an ever-changing
dynamic culture. Its function, therefore, among others is to train children not
only to solve problems of human relationships within the limits of their indi-
vidual capacities but also to take the steps necessary to achieve success in the
art of co-operative living. The home and the school have long been reckoned
as important agencies to teach children to be open-minded, tolerant and
kindly toward the beliefs of others, to think logically, to make wise personal
and social choices and to cultivate the essential disciplines of self-direction,
self-appraisal and self-control. And now the playground has been added to this
list of educational agencies because of its social significance.
Though we in India have begun to provide parks and playgrounds in
congested urban areas, our main aim in this undertaking is to keep under-
privileged children off the streets and provide them with opportunities for the
enjoyment of their leisure. But character building as an objective to be
obtained through play has not yet come to be recognised.
T H E CHILDREN'S CLUB
While play can contribute in many directions to the socialization of the
child, the use of the playground in itself is of little value in character formation.
Desirable social attitudes and habits can be formed in children only when their
play activities are properly supervised and guided. To this important aspect
little or no thought has yet been given. In the "West, clubs are organised in
different localities where children can go regularly and participate in super-
vised group play with children more or less of the same age. Through trained
leadership these clubs try to make the play activities of children productive of
Though the children's club movement has not yet become popular in
India, some efforts are being made here and there to utilise the club as an
effective educational agency. For instance, Mrs. E. Asirvatham, B. A.,
started a few years ago the Inayatbagh Children's Club in Lucknow, with a
small group of children of the neighbourhood. The club has grown rapidly in
its membership, and now has a club house with play equipment such as swings,
seesaw, kiddy cars, climbing ladder and the like. Another interesting feature
of this club is its library, which has a fairly good collection of children's story
and picture books. The little members make good use of the library books
both at the club and in the home.
No doubt, the Inayatbagh Children's Club has received some recognition
from those who appreciate its usefulness in the education of the child, but the
children's club movement has not yet taken root in India because the social
values of play have not yet received our serious consideration. Even so great
a thinker as Spencer, who declared that children should be encouraged to play
in order that they might work off their surplus energy, lost sight of its social
significance. Rightly do modern psychologists refuse to regard play simply as
a superfluity of childhood. In it they see a wise provision of Nature for the
development of the human race.
As the child plays, so the man works. In other words, there is a close
connection between the character and extent of the child's play and the sort of
life he leads when he grows up to manhood. And in the most natural way,
play prepares the child for his later activities as an adult. The naturalness,
the freedom and the spontaneity of play contribute much more to the develop-
ment of his personality than we have yet realized. It is not without purpose
that Nature has made the child a little playing animal ; he plays not because
he is young ; he is young in order that he may play and thereby train himself
in the art of living. And naturally, therefore, during the early years of his
life, he educates himself in a very real sense through his play activities.
Since play is in harmony with his very nature, the child enters into it
wholeheartedly, and through unconscious exercise acquires an adequate physi-
NOTES AND COMMENTS
cal basis for his life. In the course of play he develops his reflexes, increases
his powers of physical control, makes his digestive organs and nervous system
strong, his blood pure, and his heart and lungs sound. In addition, he gains
precision in his movements, an accurate knowledge of his environment, and
enough resistance to throw off disease germs. In short, the child acquires
health, strength, endurance, grace and symmetry. But the effects of play are
not merely physical ; they are mental and social as well.
Children begin playing in the second quarter of the first year, and long
before the close of that year, they have engaged in a great variety of play.
Almost every sensation and movement, which comes under their control, is
repeated again and again in play. For the first two or three years, the child's
play is almost wholly sensory, motor and perceptional. In the third year his
powers of imagination are sufficiently developed to be used fairly extensively in
play. Feasts and fetes are provided on short notice and without complications
which so often perplex adult dispensers of hospitality. Imagination, as a
director of play activities, usually approaches its climax in the fifth and sixth
years. Children of this age are specially interested in fairy stories, largely
because such tales give playful exercise to their powers of imagination.
During the first five years, the child's activities are free and imagina-
tive, and are almost wholly of the kind called play; while in the period from
five to ten, games become more and more prominent. And then on to puberty,
testing exercises of physical powers are important elements in his play
activities. During the latter part of this period, there is a desire not only to
do what companions can or cannot do, but to reach certain standards, to
" make records." Thus play stimulates not only the child's physical growth,
but also his mental development. These effects of play were the first values
to be discovered. The social and moral influences of play activities of children
were unobserved until some of their necessary consequences became too patent
to remain hidden from the view of social scientists. That some of the world's
great teachers have long since discerned the value of play is true, but the
popular mind has not followed them. And the discovery had to be made anew.
Even now the social values of play have not been given the consideration
Though the Duke of Wellington, when asked to explain his victory at
Waterloo, is reported to have replied that it had been won years ago on the play-
grounds of Eton, yet we have been very slow to recognize that the playground
is the place where the child learns to lead and be led, to live and let live, and
play the game in the struggle for existence even if the odds are against him.
So the child's real world is the world of play, and he thinks and acts in
terms of play. Naturally, therefore, it is in the playground companionship
THE CHILDREN'S CLUB
that he gets nearly all of his experiences and forms almost all of his attitudes
towards others. On the play field his choices are many; he acts as a free
agent and creates his own ideals. It is there he does what he wants to do, and
acts from the inner law of his own being. Such actual participation in life
and its various responsibilities affords a civic training for which no other sub-
stitute can be found. In fact, it is here that we get our cue as to the possibi-
lities of play, and to the need of its proper cultivation so that the normal
social impulse may have a chance to contribute its part to manhood and
Since the social nature of the child finds its fullest and freest expression
in his recreative activities, play produces indelible effects on him for good
or bad. Without proper supervision and guidance, group play may often
develop undesirable social habits and attitudes, and produce the bully or the
coward. But in the club, play activities are well-planned and supervised, thus
minimizing bad influences and impressing upon the child's mind the ideals of
method and co-operation. Pew children are by nature generous; the majority
of them, being selfish, need the companionship of other children to round
off their rough corners. Through the associated activities of the club, children
soon learn—though they have no clear idea at first of the rights of the in-
dividual—that no group of children can usurp all the privileges, that the right
to use a play outfit cannot be monopolized by any one, that all things should be
held in common, and that every child should be given an equal opportunity.
In this manner the supervised activities of the club help to eliminate
from the child's mind the vulgar notion that " m i g h t is r i g h t , " and inculcate
in him the idea that others also have rights and such rights must be respected.
He is thus made to recognize mutual rights as a principle in co-operative living.
Need we point out the profound significance of this development of the notion
of mutual rights for the growth of a healthy citizenship 1
Our rapidly grow-
ing communal consciousness, social and political expansion, and the increas-
ing number of contacts which they involve, demand new delimitations of
rights and more ample recognition of the boundaries of the group and the
individual. The fact that play gives the child the much-needed training in the
recognition of mutual rights, entitles it to be regarded as an important school
for the training of citizens.
Allied to the development of this recognition of mutual rights is the
growth of self-control as a natural consequence of the former. The social
results which follow are expressed in such ethical values as obedience, order,
self-control and discipline. Self-control, which develops from the influence of
play, makes obedience something more than unwilling subordination. The
child, who thus learns to respect the rules of the playground, respects authority
NOTES AND COMMENTS
as he grows up and obeys the laws of the State. Even the conflicts of the play-
ground are not without some value in building up the child's character; in
point of fact, such conflicts awaken his first notions of social justice. Further,
the child's experiences in supervised group activities go a long way in
producing in him a sense of the value and uses of order, which is the mainstay
of social stability.
Play being social in character, another of its positive social values lies in
the effectiveness with which it brings together on a common level children of
different castes and social strata. They are all alike in their need of play and
the ideals of the playground are more or less the same for them all. This
common human need and this common mode of expression furnish a basis on
which children of all kinds and conditions can meet. By working and playing
in situations which demand a variety of interactions and reactions, the child
slowly builds up his capacity for good judgment in social relationships. Surely
no better opportunities than those furnished by play could be desired for
allaying caste prejudices, mitigating social and class differences, and laying
the foundation of our common humanity. Play, if properly guided, makes
children thoughtful and courteous, and draws out the finer qualities of the
spirit. And yet training in friendliness and neighbourliness has not been
thought of as an important function of education.
Few opportunities for discipline in living together are more significant
than those afforded by supervised group play. If we wish to realise the ideal
of social efficiency, we can ill-afford to neglect the play-life of the child. Sooner
or later the child draws away from the protective care of the family and
emerges as a self-directing individual. Albeit, it is absurd to expect the child
to make the transition mechanically from the individualism of his recently
discovered selfhood to the intricate relationships of adulthood with all the atti-
tudes and skills for social living ready made. Truth to tell, it is his social
group that develops most of his social attitudes and values, and enables him to
orient himself in the practices and purposes of community life.
It is on the playground he learns, if his activities are wisely guided,
the knack of getting on with his fellowmen, acquires the spirit of cooperation,
self-sacrifice and loyalty to the group, and it is there he prepares himself to
become the efficient citizen of a democracy. The club under trained manage-
ment can control the group activities so as to enable children to develop the
habits, standards and attitudes of greatest value to them and to society. It is
this understanding of child nature and the educational possibilities of play
that is at the basis of the rapidly expanding movement for children's clubs in
Europe and America.
We cannot lag behind the progressive countries of the West in making
THE CHILDREN'S CLUB
the best use of the opportunity child nature provides in the training of I n d i a ' s
future citizens in the art of group living. The danger to a wholesome civic
life in India lies in the communal conflicts and caste prejudices, in the lack of
sympathy and understanding, and in the persistence within our gates of seem-
ingly irreconcilable and hostile elements. But the opportunities afforded by
organized and supervised recreation for accomplishing this difficult task of
unifying the discordant forces are certainly very great. If we want the future
citizen of India to live at peace and harmony with his fellows and co-operate
generally as a good citizen, we cannot neglect this club-way of training the
child in group living.
J . M. K.
INDUSTRIAL WELFARE WORK IN THE TEXTILE INDUSTRY:
TODAY AND TOMORROW 1
THE historical roots of modern industrial welfare work are to be found in
the humanitarian movement which took rise in England during the
second half of the eighteenth century, under the influence of the Wesley-
an revival. It was Robert Owen (1771-1858), himself a prosperous factory
manager, who first perceived the relationship between satisfactory working
conditions and increased production. His unorthodox procedure in increasing
wages, shortening hours and reducing child labour to a minimum astounded his
fellow-employers, but won the loyalty and co-operation of his own employees.
Owen realized that if a worker is to be at his best it is necessary not
only that he should work under satisfactory conditions, but also live under
satisfactory conditions. Hence in the factory village of New Lanark he pro-
vided such amenities as decent sanitation, medical care, a savings bank and a
model provision store. He interested himself in the education of children and
organized night classes for adults. He provided the village with a public
park, recreation facilities and a public hall.
The experiments of Owen are worthy of mention because they demon-
strated in the early days of industry, under unideal conditions, that attention
to the amenities of working life is not incompatible with a profitable industry.
But though Owen had his followers, it was not until the end of the nine-
teenth century that welfare work made any marked progress in British industry.
The reasons which led employers to undertake welfare work are varied and the
motives undoubtedly mixed. In some instances the motive was undoubtedly
humanitarian and idealistic. In others it may have been purely selfish—a
1 The materials in this note first appeared as an article in the Jubilee Number of The
Indian Textile Journal
and are reprinted here with the kind permission of the Editor,
NOTES AND COMMENTS
means to the end of increased profits. Ranging between these two extremes are
the obviously utilitarian motives : the desire for increased efficiency; the desire
to attract a better type of labourers into the plant, or the desire to attract
labourers to a new industrial centre—perhaps in an out-of-the-way location—
by offering special inducements. With the rise of the labour movement many
employers turned to welfare work as a means of keeping a step or two in
advance of the demands of labour and thus preventing the spread of unionism.
It is not unknown for employers to start welfare work as a means of utilising
surplus profits and thus avoiding payment of heavy taxes to governments. But
whatever the motive, the nineteenth and the first decade of the twentieth cen-
tury saw a marked increase in the number of employers introducing safety and
sanitary measures, improving the working and living conditions of the workers,
reducing hours of work and providing for the education and recreation of both
workers and their families.
The first cotton mill in India was organised in Bombay in 1851. The
American Civil War gave an impetus to the cotton textile industry and by 1873
there were 18 mills, employing approximately 10,000 men, women and children.
The First Indian Factories Act (1881) was not wholly a result of the develop-
ment of a social conscience in India, but received a powerful impetus from the
concern of Lancashire manufacturers over Indian competition, leading to a
demand to regulate Indian labour. It is not my purpose here to present a
history of Indian labour legislation. I would only point out that progressive
improvement has been brought about by legislation in respect to working
conditions, hours of work and the employment of women and children. No
less important is the legislation relating to workmens' compensation, maternity
benefit and payment of wages. In some instances, welfare work on the part of
advanced employers has influenced legislation; in other instances legislation
has been necessary to bring lagging employers into line. Though there is
an intimate connection between welfare work and industrial legislation, my
concern in this paper is with that voluntary welfare work undertaken by
employers over and above the demands imposed by legislation.
Industrial welfare work, as commonly understood in India today, refers
to steps taken by management, within and without the place of work, to
increase the efficiency and happiness of the labour staff. Such activities
include the measures compelled by factory legislation, but go beyond legisla-
tion in providing for the health, safety and comfort of the workers. Thus
welfare work is concerned with medical care, education, housing, promotion
of thrift, recreation, social security—in fact with any activity or condition
which will help the worker to adjust to his environment in a more satisfactory
manner. In India as elsewhere, the motive for welfare work varies. In some
INDUSTRIAL WELFARE WORK
cases the motive is frankly, "It pays"; while in other eases there is a genuine
concern for the welfare of the employees as men and fellow workers.
The amount of welfare work in India is still small when compared with
the number of workers employed in industry. India being a poor country,
one would not expect to find welfare work upon the extensive and often lavish
scale that it is practised in the West. But even welfare work of a modest
nature is altogether too rare.
It was ten years ago that the Royal Commission on Labour in India
made the following statement :
We believe that there are great opportunities for the extension of welfare work in
India, and that in few directions is expenditure of money and thought so certain to give
valuable results. There are benefits of great importance which the worker is unable to secure
for himself, such as decent housing, adequate sanitation, efficient medical attention and the
education of his children, and an advance of State activity should be looked for in these direc-
tions. There is a difficulty in that the industrial workers form only a small fraction of the
population and it is difficult to justify any elaborate and expensive extension of State services
for their exclusive benefit. In present circumstances, therefore, further advance must depend
to a considerable extent on the co-operation of employers with other sections of the commu-
nity. It is precisely the fact that the workers have been brought together in an industrial
area which creates many of the problems of health, housing, recreation, etc., with which they
are faced. For this reason, we are strongly in favour, at the present juncture, of a more
general extension on the part of the employer of welfare work in its broader sense. It is ad-
visable to remember that there is a danger in giving to welfare what should go in wages and
so depriving the worker of independence and of the educative experience which comes from
having a margin after necessities have been met. But ordinarily there is no question of
choosing between raising wages and developing welfare activities. Employers who have done
most in the way of welfare work do not usually pay lower wages than their neighbours.
Indeed, welfare work is generally associated with wages higher than are paid in corresponding
establishments where no such work is attempted. Extensive welfare schemes may be regarded
as a wise investment which should, and usually does, bring in a profitable return in the form
of greater efficiency, (pp. 259-260.)
The extension of industrial welfare work to which the Royal Commis-
sion on Labour looked forward has not materialized. As a matter of fact there
is reason to believe that relative to the increase in the number of workers, the
situation has deteriorated during the past ten years. The welfare work
examined by the Commission was in large measure an inheritance of the
general prosperity of the early 1920's, and in part the. result of feverish
activity on the part of a number of employers to have something tangible to
exhibit to the Commission—even though the forced plant died a natural death
once the sunlight of Commission inspection was removed. Again, the
condition of the textile industry during the last decade has not been such as
•to encourage the employers to make large expenditures for welfare work.
Difficulty has been experienced in maintaining the status quo.
It is obviously impossible in an article of this nature to give a detailed
account of all the welfare activities being carried on in the Indian Textile
104 NOTES AND COMMENTS
Industry. It is therefore perhaps invidious to single out even a half dozen
pieces of work for special mention. But the illustrations cited do give some
indication both of the type of work that is being done, and of what can be
attempted in the welfare field.
One of the best, as well as one of the oldest pieces of welfare work, is
that sponsored by the Buckingham and Carnatic Mills in Madras. The
activities carried on cover a wide field, including health propaganda and
medical care, athletics, workmen's stores, co-operative societies, safety first
education, low rent worker's housing, library, dramatic society and forum.
The educational programme includes a school for the education of halftimers,
training for apprentices, and night classes for those workers who wish to
pursue their studies further. The welfare committee of the Mills, composed
of representatives of management and workers, deals with such questions as
provident fund and gratuity, workers' pensions, wage increments, fines,
bonuses, and leave and medical certificates. The work is under the supervi-
sion of a full-time secretary and his staff and the programme changes from
time to time to meet the changing needs of the workers. A succession of
annual reports, dating back to 1922, indicate clearly that the welfare com-
mittee has been an important factor in promoting peace and harmony in the
mills and enriching the life of the workers.
The Empress Mills in Nagpur also have a long record of achievement.
The welfare work consists of two types—internal and external. The internal
work is under the direction of the management and includes such activities as
cheap grain sales, medical assistance, creches for infants, instruction for
half-day girl and boy workers, noon-time recreational activities, cinema
shows and entertainments. The external work is entrusted to the Y.M.C.A.
and is carried on in the " bastis " or residential areas of the workers. The
programme includes kindergarten and primary schools, adult classes, illustrated
lectures, mothers' classes, institutes for games and reading purposes, co-
operative societies, medical activities, scouting and outdoor games. The model
housing programme of the Mills, in which the Company has granted special
facilities to workers for the erection of their own private dwellings, has
attracted wide attention.
In Cawnpore, Messrs. Begg, Sutherland & Co., Ltd., employ a welfare
superintentent to direct the welfare activities of the various companies under
their agency. The work follows the general pattern of schools, library and
reading room, indoor and outdoor games, scouting, adult education, medical
work and entertainment. A number of workers' houses are provided at low
rents. The welfare superintendent hears the workers' grievances and brings
them to the attention of the proper authorities, He also deals with cases
INDUSTRIAL WELFARE WORK
involving accidents and accident compensation.
The Delhi Cloth Mills support a welfare programme which includes
recreational activities; health hygiene and safety measures; educational and
vocational training schemes ; workers' housing, and miscellaneous benefits to
workers, such as provident fund, sickness insurance scheme and old age
pensions. A gymnasium, swimming pool and theatre are the outstanding
attractions in the recreational programme. A maternity home, child welfare
centre, creche and hospital are important elements in the health programme. A
labour officer engages staff, looks into complaints and supervises welfare work.
Ahmedabad is unique in that the lead for welfare work is given not by
the employers, but by a labour union—The Textile Labour Association. Under
intelligent leadership this union has developed a strong programme and
enrolled a membership of some 25,000 workers. The activities of the Associa-
tion include workers' housing, medical care, schools for children of workers
and adult education. The union has been an important factor in preserving
industrial peace in Ahmedabad. Ahmedabad is one of the few centres in India
where the workers are taking the lead in helping themselves.
In Bombay a number of mills are carrying on welfare work that is wor-
thy of mention. These mills include the Sassoon Group, Century, Svadeshi,
Khatau Makanjee, Kohinoor, Morarji Gokuldas, Simplex, Spring and
The Bombay welfare work is comprehensive in scope. A number of the
mills provide literacy education opportunities for their workers. A few main-
tain primary schools, while over a dozen mills send promising workers for
further training in the special technical classes conducted by the Social Service
League or the Victoria Jubilee Technical Institute. Visual education is carried
on both within the mill premises and outside the mills.
Practically all of the Bombay mills provide some sort of facilities for
either indoor or outdoor games—or both—and sponsor various types of leisure-
time activities such as bhajans, dramatic performances, excursions and exhibi-
tions. Eighteen mills provide partial housing accommodation for their
employees; more than 40 mills have canteens; 12 mills provide tiffin rooms and
3 mills have boarding houses. Thirty-seven Bombay mills maintain their own
dispensaries, which provide medical facilities for the workers and their
That the Bombay Mill owners have an interest in the economic security
of their employees is evidenced by the fact that 24 Bombay Mills support a
total of 41 co-operative societies ; 15 mills have provident fund schemes ; 10
grant some sort of bonus, and 11 grant pensions or gratuities to old employees
at the discretion of the managing agents.
NOTES AND COMMENTS
All of the larger mills in India comply at least with the minimum legis-
lative requirements regarding sanitation, ventilation, drinking water, safety,
creches, maternity benefit and workmen's compensation, and many of the
mills are considerably in advance of the law. The most commonly accepted
forms of voluntary welfare work are concerned with medical relief and housing.
A definite advance in recent years has been the appointment of both
Government labour officers and private labour officers, extending the meaning
of welfare from the provision of amenities for working men and their families
to a serious attempt to deal with internal working conditions, workers' griev-
ances and the promotion of industrial harmony. The outstanding development
in this direction has been in the city of Bombay, where the Government
Labour Officer, Labour Officer of the Millowners' Association and labour
officers from individual mills are co-operating in improving conditions,
efficiency and raising the standard of wages.
A still more recent development; in the Bombay Province has been the
appointment of a Government Labour Welfare Officer and the opening of labour
welfare centres by Government in the cities of Ahmedabad and Bombay. This
step is a recognition of the principle that the welfare of the worker is not the
concern of the employers alone, but of Government as well. The work is
wholly extra-mural, being carried on in the various localities in which the
So much for a very brief account of some the welfare work that is being
done in the Indian textile industry today. The remainder of my article will be
devoted to welfare work tomorrow, as I discuss a number of ways by which
the meaning of welfare can be extended, so that welfare work may be of
greater service both to employers and employees.
It was the World War and a growing interest in the application of psy-
chology to industry which gave a new turn to welfare work in the United
States. For some time the psychologists had been experimenting with indus-
trial fatigue and endeavouring to discover means of lessening the strain of
modern machine industry. They had also devoted attention to the study of
labour turnover, with its attendant waste. The World War created a difficult
problem in that it placed new demands on industry and at the same time called
experienced workmen out of industry for army service. If efficiency was to be
maintained it was essential that the displaced workmen be replaced by men
who could operate machines in an intelligent manner. The tool which the psy-
chologists offered was based upon the theory of individual differences. If men
did differ in abilities, the task was to discover these differences and to endea-
vour to place each man in the position in which he could function most
efficiently. This new approach to the problem of industrial management was
INDUSTRIAL WELFARE WORK 107
given the name of Personnel Administration and the older welfare activities
were designated as a department under this general head, known as service
management or employee services. Personnel administration has been
described as ' 'labour management enlightened by a scientific spirit and a social
conscience." 2 The offlcer-in-charge of a modern personnel division or
industrial relations department is regarded as equal in importance to the
executives charged with finance, production or distribution.
The enlargement in scope from the earlier welfare activities to a modern
personnel department can be seen from the following description of the
fuuctions of such a department :
(a) Employmente management, which is concerned with the maintenance of the neces-
sary staff of workers, that is, selecting, hiring, transfer, promotion, discharge and
the like ;
(b) Training activities ;
(c) Health and safety efforts ;
(d) Joint negotiation and adjustment, which is concerned with the conduct of collec-
tive bargaining or relations with company unions in the determination of terms
and conditions of employment and the handling of individual cases requiring
adjudication under such agreements ; and
(e) Service or welfare work, which is concerned with the administration of the
numerous supplementary efforts such as insurance, pensions, savings plans,
company housing, lunch rooms, recreational facilities, and the like. 3
A further study of the kinds of service provided under " ( e ) service or
welfare work " reveals a wide range of effort including medical service and
hospitals, indoor and outdoor recreational facilities, libraries, lunch rooms,
loan funds, thrift plans, benefit associations, group insurance, provision for
sick leave with pay and provision for vacation with pay. Considerable
attention is being paid to providing for the security of employees through
mutual benefit associations, death benefits, sickness and accident benefits,
group life insurance, group health and accident insurance, group unemploy-
ment insurance and pensions. There has also been a marked development of
employee representation on works councils, shop committees and the like.
As a means toward self help a large number of western industrialists
encourage systematic savings funds, both with and without company contri-
butions. In some instances the company pays a higher rate of interest than
can be secured from the local banks. Employee stock-ownership plans are
another form of saving. Profit-sharing plans, about which much was heard
in the earlier days, are today on the wane.
Educational activities include training on the job, apprenticeship
training and varieties of courses offered for purely cultural purposes and
2 Social Work Year Booh,
1929, p. 322.
3 Social Work Year Booh,
1937, p. 340.
108 NOTES AND COMMENTS
general personal advancement. Continuous research is financed by the
employers with the end in view of making personnel service more effective.
Labour unions have tended to be suspicious of welfare work because
they believed that it was a substitute on the part of the employers for paying
higher wages, and because they believed—and in many cases rightly—that it
was an attempt on the part of the employers to lessen the influence of the
unions. But with the abandonment of the term " welfare " and the integrat-
ing of labour relationships into the inner councils of management, much of
this prejudice has disappeared. It is now seen that the personnel officer
approaches his task, not simply as one content to supply wash rooms and
creches, but as a serious student of labour problems, who endeavours to view
the industrial situation in its entirety.
The present-day objective in industrial relationships is the attempt " to
adjust productive capacity to standards of living." The International Indus-
trial Relations Institute has adopted the phrase, optimum productivity,
describe the new objective. By definition, " The optimum of productivity is
the best possible achievement, quantitative and qualitative, in output and per-
formance, directed toward the highest standards of living, material and
cultural, which are attainable with rational conservation of resources, human
and material, and full utilization of the human and technical sciences, inven-
tion and skill."
Miss Mary van Kleeck, the Director of the Department of Industrial
Studies of the Russell Sage Foundation, points out the implications in this
definition when she says :
If the nature of the problem is to achieve such a social administration of technology
shall fully develop its potentialities, then we must recognize three partners in the procedure:
(1) Industrial management as a science has to administer not only the separately
owned units, but the interrelationships of plants and of industries in an effective producing
(2) Labour unions must similarly function, not only within the workshop, important
as is their functioning there, but also on an industry-wide and community-wide basis. Re-
cognizing at once that there are conflicts of interest between labour and management, it must
be said that the optimum cannot be completely achieved under present conditions, but that
optimum procedure calls for participation of representatives of the unions in the management
of production, especially in determining the speed and rate of output. To quote from the
paper on optimum productivity presented by Mary L. Fledderus at the 1938 conference of the
Industrial Relations Institute at the Hague: ' For the establishment of scientific criteria by
management and workers, the contributions of the technical and human sciences are fully
needed. Together they can establish these criteria for optimum procedure. For it is this
optimum procedure which at any given moment determines what is optimum in workshop
productivity.' Moreover, it should be noted that the trade-union movement is the only orga-
nized group exclusively and directly concerned with maintenance of basic factors in the
standards of living, namely, adequate wage rates and reasonable hours of work. The function
of the trade unions in the achievement of the optimum is therefore obvious.
INDUSTRIAL W E L F A R E WORK
(3) Government, though inevitably subject to political pressure from special in-
terests, is not precluded from constructive action, especially through labour laws. The task
of government in establishing good working conditions is to generalize standards achieved by
the most progressive managers. This function of generalization is of great importance, and
can be discharged by no other agency save that of Government. *
No one is more aware than myself that conditions in Indian industry—
particularly on the side of labour organization—are not such as to warrant an
immediate adoption of such a programme. But at the same time we must move
with the times. It is absolute folly to place the responsibility for welfare work
on the shoulders of department heads, already overburdened with their own
responsibilities. It is equally foolish to entrust this responsibility to men,
specifically designated for welfare work, but who have had no adequate back-
ground of training and who cannot see the problem in its proper perspective.
No board of directors would place an unqualified man in charge of finance or
production. But when it comes to the most difficult element in the whole
industrial system—the labour element—the cheapest man available is generally
regarded as good enough. Ignoring the very aspects which make for efficiency,
we bewail our lack of efficiency. To state a problem is not to solve it, but
awareness of our shortcomings may in time lead to their correction.
A TOWN WITHOUT BEGGARS
KOTTAYAM is a comparatively small town in central Travancore. To-day
you do not find any begging in its streets. Kottayam is trying an old,
outmoded experiment of the West, but unique in India, and perhaps
the dawning of a new era in the treatment of destitution and poverty.
In September 1939, at the initiation of the Municipality, a meeting was
called at which a Committee was appointed to prepare a scheme of work. The
first task was to take a census of beggars. For this, volunteers—students from
local High Schools and Colleges—visited the houses in town, collected the
weekly quota of their charity, and requested the householders not to give alms
on that day to any beggar, but to direct all beggars to a central place where a
census would be taken and the collected money disbursed. The claims of each
beggar were examined and tickets were issued to those found to be deserving
of public relief. Thus many undeserving beggars were eliminated. There
was at this first stage a form of licensed begging.
An Association was framed to ensure a permanent source of income and
interest. There are two classes of members—ordinary members contributing
Rs. 5/- and patrons contributing Rs. 100/-. In August 1940, a centre was
opened where the vagrants have been fed every day since then. They have
4 American Labour Legislation Review,
110 NOTES AND COMMENTS
further been prevented from begging on the street. On the average some 300
persons are fed every day at the centre. .
A Nursery School has also been started at the centre for children bet-
ween the ages of 31/2 and 6. It is the hope of the organisers to start a school for
juveniles and provide separate accommodation for lepers and other diseased
The most notable feature of the scheme is the hearty co-operation which
is being accorded by all sections and communities in the town. The Munici-
pality and Government are co-operating. The churches and other religious
institutions are in full sympathy.
We congratulate Kottayam for leading the way, and are glad to note
that representatives from other towns are watching and studying with interest
the Kottayam scheme, in the hope that they also can start some organised form
of beggar relief. Where Madras, Calcutta, Bombay and other cities have failed
Kottayam has succeeded.
P . M. T.
SELECTING STUDENTS FOR THE SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK
THE Sir Dorabji Tata Graduate School of Social Work limits its student
body to twenty graduates of Indian Universities. As the number of
applicants is always very greatly in excess of the number who can be
admitted, the process of selection is a most difficult one. It is of interest,
therefore, to note the discussion on " Selection of Personnel in the Field of
Social W o r k , " being a summary of a special session arranged by The National
Committee for Mental Hygiene (U.S.A.) at its 1940 Conference, and reported
in the January 1941 issue of the Journal Mental Hygiene.
Dr. Maud E. Watson, Director, The Children's Center, Detroit Michigan,
states the problem. Since social work demands "intelligent, adequately
trained individuals who must of necessity not only understand interpersonal
relationships, but also themselves possess well-integrated personalities in order
to work effectively," how can we mimimise the risk of training people who
later prove themselves to be unfitted for social work ? She suggests first of all
a really thorough physical examination to determine whether the candidate has
the necessary physical vigour to carry heavy physical and emotional burdens.
Second, shall the intelligence of the candidate be measured in terms of previous
high academic attainment, or '' shall intelligence rather be evaluated by a
battery of tests under a good clinical psychologist who has an understanding
of emotional conflicts 1 "
The third examination should be by a psychiatrist,
in order that we may have complete insight into a total personality,
Dr. Temple Burling, in continuing the discussion, suggests that it is
just as much the function of the school to provide the student with opportuni-
ties for growth and maturing as to equip him with intellectual tools. " The
problem, as I see i t , " he says, " i s not to find young people who are mature
and poised, but to discover those who are most likely to profit by the experi-
ence, and thereby develop insight, poise, and m a t u r i t y . "
Dr. Helen Witmer, of Smith College School for Social Work, points out
the "difficulty of judging maturity, stability, and capacity for being of help
to clients when the applicant for admission to a school is a young, untried
person of narrow life experience." She feels that the successful selection of
students is " a highly specialized task for which much research is needed,"—
involving the study of many students' academic progress and subsequent
Neither American Schools nor our own School have solved this problem,
but it is of value to have experienced workers in the field recognizing it and
devoting time to its discussion.
AN EXPERIMENT IN MORAL WELFARE WORK
MORAL Welfare work is the term now used for what used to be called rescue
and preventive work. This change of name denotes an important
change of policy. Instead of largely concentrating on the reclamation
of girls in moral danger, attempt is now made to strike at root causes. Today
an active moral welfare agency aims at raising moral standards, especially
amongst men, from whom comes the demand. Moral education of children is
advocated in order that they may both receive sex instruction in the right
way and also be helped to formulate the right sex ideals. Social reform has
to be planned, as bad housing, unemployment and sweated industries are
direct causes of prostitution. Steps have also to be taken to secure the right
type of legislation for the proper penalisation of trafficking in vice. Lastly,
adequate provision has to be made of different types of institutions for
different kinds of women and girls. Shelters and refuges offer temporary
accommodation ; long term training homes seek to equip girls for a fresh
start in life ; medical homes serve the need of those who have contracted
disease, and mother and baby homes exist for unmarried mothers.
Moral Welfare work in the West is still rather a new branch of social
work. The outbreak of total war must, however, have proved a doubly dread
disaster. On the one hand, in many invaded countries rescue organisations
must have been swept away and the work built up in past generations must
NOTES AND COMMENTS
have been smashed to atoms. On the other hand the need for such work must
have been raised by war conditions to the nth degree. The concentration of
troops and munition workers must necessarily constitute a grave moral
danger ; many problems arise from large scale civilian evacuation and refugee
immigration ; the very insecurity of the present time with its long drawn out
war of nerves must act as a kind of stimulant, whilst the materialism of the
times tends to lower existing moral standards. Much is said in war as to
physical casualties but little is noted abroad as to its moral casualties. The
basic importance of securing a right equilibrium in the relations of the sexes
is seen from the fact that failure to solve the moral problem has proved one
of the main causes of the downfall of past civilisations.
In the East, Moral Welfare work is still in a very undeveloped state.
In only a few of the biggest Indian cities have rescue homes been started.
The need for such work is immense. Owing to the immensity of the need on
the one hand and the shortage of rescue homes on the other, it is impossible
as yet to secure any specialisation in the work. It is, therefore, wise, as a
first step, to establish an Indian rescue home on a very wide basis ; to
endeavour to train the right type of Indian woman worker in the work itself—
as there are no facilities for obtaining trained rescue workers—and to utilise
the home as a small field of practical social work whereby local public opinion
can be educated regarding moral problems. This has been the underlying
policy in the recent establishment of a new type of rescue home for girls of all
castes and creeds at Yerandavna, near Poona in the Province of Bombay.
Prior to the actual opening of this home in December 1940, the small
group of people responsible for this step, under the auspices of Christa Prema
Seva Sangha, had been exploring the social needs of Poona for many months.
As a result of searching inquiry it was found that a home of this kind was
urgently required. It was seen that, although the Bombay Children Act was
in full force in Poona, there were no remand facilities for non-Hindu girls
under 16 years of age. The Bombay Borstal Schools' Act was found to be
completely inoperative for girls because of the lack of any institution equipped
to give Borstal training to girl offenders aged between 16 and 21 years. It
also appeared that there was no system of after-care for women prisoners
leaving the local jail and that completely destitute women denied a safe
asylum on discharge were only too likely to revert to crime and prostitution.
Then with the outbreak of war it was found that Poona had become a much
larger cantonment area, as well as a bigger munitions centre. Such things
must necessarily have a direct effect on the moral health of the adjacent city.
Lastly conditions in Poona City—bad housing, overcrowding, unemployment,
unrelieved destitution, together with bad caste practices and social traditions,
AN EXPERIMENT IN MORAL WELFARE WORK 113
all interact in causing terrible wastage in girl life. It was, therefore, decided
to concentrate on opening a rescue home in Poona, on a side at Yerandavna,
situated on the very edge of Poona City, in ideal country surroundings, lying
under the very shadow of the Parvati temple-crowned hill. About ten miles
away the Western Ghauts rear their rugged heads, culminating in the sheer
steepness of Sinhgad, Shivaji's famous fort.
Nearly half the total amount of money collected was spent on
putting the old buildings into proper repair. It was agreed that younger,
less dependable girls, used to simple Indian standards of living, should be
accommodated in the main orphanage building and that about 6 or 7 of the
separate disused teachers' quarters should be set apart as cottages, where
small groups of older, steadier girls could live in little 'families'. On the top
floor of another building, one dormitory has been fitted up for girls of any
community, accustomed to a Western standard of living. An old school
building will shortly be turned into a sisal fibre workshop. This industry
has proved a successful enterprise in Ahmednagar. It is hoped that the girls
will learn to make floor mats, brushes and sandals and, if the industry proves
a success, it is intended to pay the girls piece rate wages for efficient work.
A small dispensary has already been equipped and the honorary services of a
visiting woman doctor secured. It will probably later be necessary to engage
a residential full trained nurse in order that girls who have contracted
venereal disease may receive necessary treatment in the home. Again, when
the work has progressed and the necessary funds have been collected, one
empty bungalow will be used as a mother and baby home, where unmarried
mothers will be encouraged to stay until their babies have been weaned.
The above outline represents the policy underlying the establishment of
this new home. The name chosen—Mahila Seva Gram
—"place of uplift and
service for women," has been deliberately selected because of its Gandhian
reference and also because its very vagueness will prevent any inmate being
labelled as a rescue case. Again, this name stresses the need of humble service.
Girls of all castes and creeds will be admitted, and although definite Christian
teaching will be given to Christian girls, the faith of non-Christians will be
respected, as the Committee have rightly decided against proselytism.
Although Mahila Seva Gram was declared officially open on 13th Decem-
ber 1940, the buildings were not entirely finished until the end of the month.
The first nine weeks' experience demonstrated that the new home undoubtedly
meets a real need, as no less than 27 girls, women and children were admitted.
Of these 16 were Christian and 11 Muslim and Hindu. Four married women
sought admission because of ill-treatment by their husbands and three of them
were accompanied by their babies. Seven girls and young children have been
NOTES AND COMMENTS
sent by the Poona Juvenile Court. Two girls, aged over 16, one of whom had
been involved in a sensational kidnapping case, were sent by the police. Three
unmarried mothers, with their babies, have been admitted. In addition, appli-
cation has been made to Government for recognition, in order that selected
women prisoners, for whom jail treatment is inadvisable and young girl
offenders belonging to the Borstal age group may be sent for admission. Such
facts and figures in respect of the first two months' experience show that use-
ful work is already being done. Extension of the work will necessarily depend
upon two factors—amplification of funds and direct contact with the actual
need. It is, however, believed that as more and more girls are helped, the
means of contact will be increased and funds will be made available. Given
success, this experiment should provide facilities whereby the Bombay Children
Act, the Borstal Schools Act and the Prostitution Act—in so far as they affect
girls—can be put into more active operation. It is also hoped that the Home
may give scope for practical training of Indian women rescue workers.
M. K. DAVIS
THE WORKING OF THE MYSORE UNIVERSITY SETTLEMENT, BANGALORE
HE Late Mr. C. F. Andrews, in his Convocation Address to the University
of Mysore in 1938, suggested that some kind of University Settlement
should be started. The matter was seriously taken up by the Vice-Chan-
cellor and it is almost entirely due to his efforts that the present Settlement
came into being in August 1939. Through the Settlement the students of the
University are brought into contact with the poorest people of the land : slum
dwellers of the cities and the peasants of the countryside. It is the aim of the
Settlement to bring the rich and the poor together, and to make the University
not an isolated place where men and women live a life of ease and sometimes
luxury, but a centre where students may discover for themselves what are the
difficulties of the poor, and what are the proper ways of meeting these
The idea behind the Settlement is well-known. It is to raise the standard
of life of the slum workers—economically, physically, and morally. To this
end, the city slum areas have been our chief concern. The various slum areas
have been divided and work has been allotted to each area. There are in all
15 student members inside the Settlement, out of whom 12 are under-graduates
selected from different University Institutions on a stipendiary basis, and 3 are
graduates. All the members of the Settlement have to spend 2 hours every
evening in the welfare centres of the Settlement and all of them are residen-
tial members of the institution.
MYSORE UNIVERSITY SETTLEMENT, BANGALORE 115
Last year the workers of the Settlement made initial contacts with the
slum dwellers. This year it has been possible for us to work in other
The Settlement is conducting a night primary school in each of the slum
areas. Our workers, in addition to teaching, conduct games for the children.
This has brought some cheerfulness to the lives of these children. We are also
paying increasing attention to sanitation and hygienic conditions. Cases of
disease are immediately brought to the notice of medical men. It has been our
chief aim to see that proper roads are laid in the slum areas and enough fresh
water supplied to the inhabitants. This work is being well conducted in co-
operation with the Bangalore City Municipality.
Apart from these things the office is engaged in carrying on social and
economic survey work in the slum areas with a view to finding out the income,
expenditure, the number of earners and dependants, the state of health, etc.,
and assisting in the preparation of family budgets. Our workers frequently
take the children round the various parts of the city, and arrange musical
entertainments for the benefit of all.
A series of propaganda talks on sanitation, nutrition, health, hygiene,
temperance, co-operation and usefulness of community centres was arranged
in co-operation with the Government Development Departments.
Two graduate probationers chosen by the University are placed in the
Settlement for training. Regular lectures are being given to them and they
have been responsible to a great extent for the development of the welfare
centres attached to the Settlement. They have also carried on the social and
economic surveys of the localities entrusted to them, under the guidance of
the Settlement authorities. Lectures are delivered to them on four days every
week, the hours of lecturing being 2 to 3-30 p. m. The lectures cover the
organisation of social welfare activities, social case-work, organisation of wel-
fare centres, rural and urban problems and the history of the Settlement
The Settlement workers will in the future devote considerable attention
to the adult education problem. A great interest is being taken by the Warden
and the Settlement authorities in trying to start a workers' art centre, and a
special committee is working to collect funds for developing such a centre for
the guidance of aspiring dramatists and actors. Three Advocates of Bangalore
have volunteered to give free legal advice to those who are unable to pay. Youth
leagues have been started in various centres with a view to organising games,
debates, entertainments, group discussions and even to attempt social reform.
As soon as a Women's Settlement is started, during the month of June
1941, it is hoped to develop a creche, a nursery school, girls' and women's
NOTES AND COMMENTS
clubs and classes in hygiene, cooking and domestic economy. The problem of
supplying milk to babies and under-nourished children is also engaging the
attention of the Settlement.
In the Rural Settlement at Markonahalli, the work will be of a different
nature. Here some men with agricultural training will be permanently posted.
They will get their own plots of land to work. It is expected that this will
place them more on a par with the ryots and they will also, with the aid of the
different Government departments, carry to the peasants new agricultural
improvements and instruct them in hygiene, sanitation, village-industries and
co-operation. During vacations batches of students from the various colleges
of the University will join the activities of the Rural Settlement and receive
training in rural welfare work.
The University desires its students to be more than class room scholars.
It expects them to be useful and practical citizens, who can understand the
poor man's problems and work for their solution.
G. K. GOPALA RAO