Social Case work practice in India

Lets discuss the concept of social case work practice in India. We have understood its meaning and definition in our previous articles. Social case work practitioners in India view the concepts of case work differently.  According to them, social casework can be practiced successfully in a democratic society only.  In the context of social case work practice, democracy implies freedom and self-fulfillment.  In the Indian context the concept of self fulfillment and self expression go hand in hand with the concept of conformity to the group norm.  

It is believed that an individual does not have a right to express himself/ herself, to decide upon an action he/she will like to undertake or which he/she is capable of undertaking. In Indian society the individual remains, more or less, a participating member bound to his/her original group.  

Indian tradition does not primarily seem to subscribe to the concept of right.  The concept of duty to one’s fellow beings has run through ages.  In his/her relation to the rest of the society, the Indian scheme lays stress upon his/her duties – dharma by which he/she is to secure his/her own advancement and thus he/she may be distinguished from his/her western counterpart who emphasizes his/her rights.  Although, one implies the other, right emphasizes power and comforts for the physical self, and duty emphasizes debts which a person owes to all conscious beings.

  • For instance, in the case of a cancer patient, one can provide him/her all rights to a good medical facility but one can not ensure him/her the affection of his/her family as a matter of right.  Similar is the case of elderly persons.  One can ensure them good and safe shelter, adequate medical aid and some economic assistance, as a matter of right.
  •  Can one say that the elderly have a right to have his/her children’s affection? Can affection, love, care, acceptance be solicited as a matter of right? Focus on the concept of duty becomes imperative when as caseworkers one tries to bring about, an understanding between a mentally ill person and his/her family.  It is expected and encouraged that the family regards it as its duty to look after the welfare of its sick member and that it takes a genuine interest in what the member does or feels. 
  •  But if extreme individualism is encouraged (as in the west) on the part of the members of the family then the need of the patient will not be looked into by them.  At the same time the social caseworker, who has to respect the individualism of the members of the family, will have to go beyond the limits of case work practice in order to discuss with them their areas of duty towards their relatives.

Casework Practice in India

In India, the caseworker has to perform a two-fold role: on one hand, s/he has to handle traditional casework situations, where the individual’s adjustment to his/ her reality is disturbed due to internal or external strains.  On the other, the case worker’s role is to help an individual to reach a new level of integration by introducing new ideas and new ways of living.  The caseworker should not be confined to help the client to adjust to the existing reality but also to become an active partner in the process of change for the betterment of society as well

In the Indian context, the concept of self fulfillment and self-expression go hand in hand with the concept of conformity to the group norm.  In Indian society, the individual remains, more or less, a participating member bound to his/her original group.  Indian tradition does not primarily seem to subscribe to the concept of right. In the practice of social casework, time and again, one sees that the needs of the clients are not limited to their material wants only.   The emotional needs can be
met only if one focuses on the concept of duty. Society always encourages individuals, families, and communities to take a genuine interest in the life of people who are old, sick, infirm, disadvantaged, and vulnerable. In the Indian culture, social caseworker often has to work towards enabling the client and the members of his/her family to understand their intrinsic dignity as human beings and act accordingly.
The caseworker has to enable the individual to discharge his/her duties and help his/her family members or society to grapple with new ideas and thinking that will ultimately benefit them.

  1. Mathew Grace, (1992), An Introduction to Social Casework, TISS, Bombay
  2. Perlman, H. (1957), Social Case Work: A Problem-Solving Process, University of Chicago Press, Chicago.
  3. Friedlander, W. A. (1982), Introduction to Social Welfare, Prentice Hall of India: New Delhi.
  4. Younghusband, E. (1971), New Developments in Case Work, Volume II, London: George Allan & Unwin Ltd.


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