October 24, 2010
Dept of Social Work, Coimbatore
Dr. J. Paranjothi Ramalingam, Head of Department of Social Work at Coimbatore was recently invited to inaugurate a student association Resonance, whereby he highlighted trends in social work, both nationally and internationally.
“In India, Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra account for the largest number of institutions offering social work education,” he informed the audience. “This trend seems to be now spreading to other states also.”
Dr. Ramalingam recalled the pioneering work of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences that began social work education in India in 1936. Today India has approximately 300,000 social work professionals working across the country.
Elaborating on trends in Indian education, he stated, “The UGC recommends electives in Counseling, Disaster Management, Gerontological Social Work, Legal Systems in India, Women and Development, Children in Difficulty and Youth and Development. Most social work schools are only able to offer two or three specializations, however.”
Dr. Ramalingam compared this with the trends seen internationally.
“The University of Hong Hong offers a wider spectrum of 65 electives from which students choose at least four,” he underlined.
Pointing to Malaysia’s government, which has approved a Social Work Act that aims at regulating and ensuring the quality of social care by setting a national competency standard, he stated that India could use this as an example to follow.
Dr. Ramalingam further reported inspiring news regarding student placements.
“In Kerala, the state government has appointed social workers statewide, while in Tamil Nadu, community organizers have been designated,” he shared. “Employment opportunities exist in government hospitals as counselors, in HR departments and many NGOs today.”
“In addition, many corporations have started CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives and they need social work students.”
“Improve your communication and soft skills,” Dr. Ramalingam encouraged the students in his concluding remarks. “Develop multiple talents and creative thinking. Thorough knowledge in the field is required to become a successful social work professional.”
Dr. Ramalingam’s areas of research include Health & Mental Health, Women Empowerment, Adolescence, Substantial Social Problems and General Social Work Practice.
He has especially studied the role of the NSS (National Service Scheme) in bringing about positive social change.
Before joining Amrita in June 2009, Dr. Ramlingam headed the Department of Social Work at Sri Ramakrishna Mission Vidyalaya College of Arts and Sciences, Coimbatore from 1996 for thirteen years.
“My experience at Amrita has been wonderful,” he shared. “There is a very good academic atmosphere. The spiritual aspects help shape students to be good citizens of the future. All this is being made possible with Chancellor Amma’s blessings and the Pro-Chancellor’s leadership.”