TISS – 75 years of quality education



The Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) was established in 1936 as the Sir Dorabji Tata Graduate School of Social Work. It was the first school of social work in India. TISS was a pioneering effort that had the singular objective of social welfare through academic excellence. In 1944, the Sir Dorabji Tata Graduate School of Social Work was renamed as the Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Since then, TISS has been expanding continuously in terms of educational programmes and infrastructure. While responding to the changing needs of the social and educational system in the country, the institute has gone far beyond the initial concern of social work education. Thus, an endeavour that started as a small institution offering a postgraduate diploma in Social Work, grew into a Deemed University and, as a result, diversified its activities.

TISS has always endeavoured to  continually respond to changing social realities through the development and application of knowledge, towards creating a people-centred, ecologically sustainable and just society that promotes and protects dignity, equality, social justice and human rights for all. Our commitment is to create knowledge, to speak truth to the dominant power structures, work closely with the State and non-State institutions, and strive to produce conscientious graduates who are committed to creating a just and equitable society.

Since its inception, TISS has never limited itself to the mandate of a conventional university. In fact, it has worked for the promotion of sustainable, equitable and participatory development that has been mediated through the twin lenses of social welfare and social justice through:

  • Value-based professional education for social work and other human service professions
  • Social research, and dissemination of socially relevant knowledge
  • Policy and programme level intervention through training and field action projects
  • Evidence based contribution to development and social welfare policies and programmes  at state, national and international levels
  • Professional response to national calamities, through relief, rehabilitation and disaster management.

During the years 2004-06 TISS restructured its academic programme in order to facilitate:

  • Greater responsiveness to micro, macro and meso social, political, technological, economic and cultural influences
  • Effective development and dissemination of intellectual, technological and skill resources
  • A more substantial, direct and visible contribution to strengthening peoples’ struggles for justice, dignity and human rights
  • A more flexible, open and receptive academic system to meet demands of the external situation for a range of skills and knowledge from human service professionals as well as the changing profile of students.

These objectives were realised through these transformations at the structural level:

  • Convergence of Faculty strengths across Departments/Units to generate new knowledge by bringing together faculty divided across the presently existing Departments / Units. This would furthe strengthen the teaching-learning processes, research and action.
  • Removing several administrative and management bottlenecks and providing for significant quality enhancement of teaching, research and action of Faculty within TISS.
  • Providing a structure that facilitates strategic planning at various levels of the Institute.
  • Providing effective quality enhancement and accountability mechanisms.
  • Providing additional support structures and enabling mechanisms for Faculty and students to excel in their work.
  • Enabling a qualitative change in the nature of relationships between and among the Faculty members and Students.

The institute has made tremendous progress through the years –now the Mumbai campus has 1400 masters’, 320 doctoral students, 180 full-time faculty members drawn from a multitude of disciplines. We have just announced 2012-14 admission to 26 Master’s programmes offered by six schools and two independent Centers. The research and publications have increased in quality and number. 26 field action projects – established and new – continue to contribute to innovative programs and policy at the State and National level.

The 100 acre campus in Tuljapur is now well established. The infrastructure is fully developed and the institute offers an undergraduate and a post-graduate programme in Rural Development. Its research and field action projects provide valuable inputs to the agriculture, water and sanitation, nutrition, watershed development, education and health sectors. The Tuljapur campus has got a strong multi-disciplinary faculty and it is headed by a TISS PMIR (Personnel Management and Industrial Relations) alumnus and India’s foremost Social Activist Prof. Pradip Prabhu.

The Guwahati Campus (funded by the Ministry of Development of North-Eastern Region, Government of India) and the Hyderabad campus (funded by Government of India and Azim Premji Foundation) along with the Tuljapur campus will offer a five year integrated Masters Programme in Social Sciences from June 2012. Construction work to create permanent campuses has started in Hyderabad and Guwahati, while the Government of Andhra Pradesh  and Government of Assam have given interim facilities to start teaching and research programmes.

Since 2005, TISS has been working in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, and Ladakh offering teaching, training and development support initiatives for sustainable development of these regions. These centres are engaged in path breaking development demonstration initiatives.

This year, the TISS celebrates its Platinum Jubilee. We recognize the contribution of and are supremely grateful to the founders of the institute, alumni, teachers and staff for creating and nurturing such an institution of excellence in higher education. During the course of this landmark year, an exciting series of events, both academic and cultural are being organised. I am writing to invite you to come join the students, staff and faculty to celebrate our achievements over 75 years and discuss ways to make the world a better place. The events planned through the year:

  • The formal inauguration of the Platinum Jubilee year.
  • The M-Ward Initiative – This is a massive challenge as well as an equally large opportunity to redefine our relevance as an institution to society. The M Ward, where TISS is located, is a microcosm of the city. It is an extreme example of skewed development in the metropolis, with virtually all indicators registering alarm. It requires urgent action that is multi-dimensional, comprehensive and strategic to serve its burgeoning population.  It has been the most neglected ward from the point of view of infrastructure and human development and poses a huge challenge to a city already struggling to provide basic amenities to the majority of its citizens.  The challenge in M Ward is to generate a paradigm shift in thinking and doingin envisioning and delivering a Development Plan that will benefit all its citizens and ensure the rights and entitlements of people, especially the marginalized and vulnerable. The attempt is to bring all disciplines within TISS to focus on research, theory, teaching and practice for social change and development that is sourced from and led by the M ward community. The key strategies envisaged for bringing about this change include:a community empowerment and leadership development, enabling equitable access to government programmes and schemes, creating a shared vision and ownership, and creating an enabling environment through advocacy and communication. While the project will need to be of a much longer duration, its initial stage is envisaged as a 3 year programme.
  • An Alumni meet which will include a half day seminar on the theme of Rethinking Social Justice. This will be followed by cultural events and ‘a trip down memory lane’. The event is planned for December 17 and 18,  2011.
  • A National Level Students Festival entitled Resonance is slated for December 20-22. This event will bring together students from various Universities across the country for a programme that involves discussion, reflection and cultural sharing. The theme of Resonance is Celebrating Diversity.
  • In addition to this, there will be a National Conference on February 17-19, 2012 on the broad theme of ‘Globalisation and Social Transformation: The Indian Experience’. The aim of the Conference is to provide a broad platform to academics, policy makers and practitioners from multiple disciplines nationally and internationally for debating and deliberating on Globalisation as a transformative process and its consequent effects on the economic, social, and cultural institutions in India. The conference will deal with 8 subthemes.
  • The Production of Print, Audio-visual and Web Material on the history of TISS has been initiated. This involves several projects which include the creation of a web based visual and oral history archive entitled TISStory, the production of a series of six films showcasing 75 years of the Institute’s contribution in various areas, the production of displays and exhibitions, a new look for the campuses and the production of an illustrated book on the history of the Institute.

The Institute sees the Platinum Jubilee as an opportunity to consolidate and revisit the significant changes wrought by re-structuring and to move forward with a renewed commitment to society for the next 25 years. It looks forward to the active participation of all its stakeholders: students, staff, alumni, partner organisations and others in making the Platinum Jubilee year an occasion to remember.

Thus I take up the opportunity to welcome you all to come and join us for the celebrations.

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