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Protect heritage or own future? Students in dilemma prior to examinations

Propagating the idea of salvation of heritage amongst the young is certainly creditable, but it seems Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has overlooked the fact that the youths also need to focus on personal growth and safeguard their collective future. Consequently, students affiliated to National Service Scheme (NSS) are currently edgy after repeated appeals from MTDC to constitute a tourism club to maintain and conserve historical sites in and around Pune.


Bitter experience: Many students who have worked for conservation and maintenance of historical places like Sinhagad Fort have had to shell out money from their own pockets. File pic

While the corporation has alleged nonconformity on part of NSS, the latter says that students are busy preparing for college examinations. In addition, youngsters allied with NSS claim that experience of working on government projects has not always been pleasant, and many times they have been denied basic amenities.

MTDC organised a discussion in December last year, where it was decided to take help of NSS students for the conservation and maintenance of historical places throughout the state. The responsibility of preservation of Sinhagad and Shivneri forts, and Panshet and Katraj water parks has been handed over to NSS students of Pune district.

However, MTDC’s Pune division head Naina Bondarde alleged that the NSS coordinator of University of Pune is not responding to the corporation’s appeals. Reacting to this, NSS coordinator of UoP Shakera Inamdar said that she is prepared to provide students for the upkeep of historical
places.

However, as NSS is an extracurricular activity for the youngsters, their parents would not allow them to indulge in this during the annual examination
period.  “MTDC has asked us to provide written testimony that the tourism club - comprising the NSS coordinator and ten students - has been established.

However, not only students but teachers too are occupied with exam related duties. So, we have requested the corporation to give us some time,” Inamdar said.  Meanwhile, M Phil student Sunil (name changed), who has been a part of NSS for the last seven years told MiD DAY that he has always had to spend money from his own pocket while participating in government projects.

“Students can give their time, but not money, as they are dependent on their parents or guardians. That’s precisely the reason why youths are shying away from NSS activities,” he said.  The NSS coordinator of a city-based college told MiD DAY, on the condition of anonymity, that in a recently held cleanliness drive near the river alongside Deccan Gymkhana, he brought 28 students who were not even granted essential facilities, which compelled them to leave after working for about two hours.

“Even drinking water was not provided to the youngsters by the organiser. I spent money from my own pocket and supplied breakfast to the students. Such experiences intensify the cynical approach of youths towards joining NSS,” he said.

Did you know?
> National Service Scheme, under the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports, Govt of India, was launched in Gandhiji's birth centenary year 1969, in 37 universities involving 40,000 students, with primary focus on the development of personality of students through community service. Today, NSS has more than 32 lakh student volunteers on its rolls. 

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