The Servants of India Society (SIS), an organisation established in 1905 by Gopal Krishna Gokhale, completed 118 years of existence this year on 12 June 2022. The Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, which bears the name of the reformer who founded SIS, is housed on the same campus as the SIS.
The Gokhale Institute organised the SIS Foundation Day function at the Kale Hall on the Institute campus. Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, a former member of the Parliament (Rajya Sabha) and the President of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations, was the invited chief guest. Gokhale Institute’s Vice-Chancellor Ajit Ranade was present, along with SIS Chairperson Damodar Sahoo and Secretary Milind Deshmukh.
Ranade set the stage by giving an in-depth introduction to the Servants of India Society, how it was established, its vision and mission, and its apolitical emphasis on social upliftment and humanism.
Chief guest Vinay Sahasrabuddhe, President of the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), spoke at length about large organisations in the 21st century. He mentioned that a sense of purpose, belonging and ownership, and one’s identification with the people around them are crucial for any individual and the organisation. Selfless work, desire for change, and inspiration from within are a must for this, he said, were the characteristics of the yesteryear voluntarism.
Voluntary organisations, and even political parties, are going through several crises. He began talking about the crisis of purpose, which is the mother of another demon, the crisis of ownership. The third, namely, the crisis of authenticity, is also all-pervasive now. Then, he said, comes the crisis of relationships. He then went on to speak about the diversity in identities, and yet, engulfing them, a sense of collectivism and consensus.
Damodar Sahoo, Chairperson of the SIS and Milind Deshmukh, Secretary, SIS were present and gave their thoughts on the legacy of the Society, and more importantly, its continuing work in the 21st century.