Sakhya History
Nirmala Niketan's Fight for Human Rights

Ever since its inception, the College of Social Work, Nirmala Niketan, has emerged as a champion of human rights, believing that social work education and responding to the ground reality of human life must go hand in hand. During the 1980's when the “dowry” problem received much publicity as a source of violence and social injustice to women, the College readily responded to the invitation of the District Vigilance Commission, Govt. of Maharashtra, to participate in a concerted action against dowry violence on women.
This Vigilance Cell initially worked under the Collector of Mumbai as Chairperson of the Committee. The Cell received funds from the Committee and submitted regular reports of its activities. However the official representatives on the Vigilance Cell were not able to give the attention required to approach the problem on a war-footing as was necessary for change in the system. Hence the college project of Sakhya was launched as the Anti-Dowry Guidance Cell of the District Vigilance Committee. Sakhya depended on the Committee for the funds to appoint professional social workers as well as to meet the expenses of the programmes planned by the College.
The efforts made by the College under the banner of Sakhya had met with considerable success and new opportunities in the field of counselling as well as in recruiting volunteers to support the programmes organised, began to open in all directions. More personnel were needed to respond to expanding possibilities.

Sakhya's Transformation in the Face of Adversity

While the Vigilance Committee continued to extend a certain measure of financial support to the project, the Sakhya workers felt the need of more competent professional members on the Vigilance Cell to guide their actions and programmes on the medical, legal and public relations aspects of their functioning. Moreover due to frequent changes in the appointment of Collectors, meetings were not held regularly and eventually the short-term as well as the long-term planning of the project became the responsibility of the Co-ordinator and Principal of the College. In 1994, the funding from the Vigilance Committee was suddenly curtailed with serious repercussions on the possibility of continuing the service of the professional social workers in the project. In the light of such vacillating support, Sakhya was obliged to seek other sources of financial help in order to sustain the vision and thrust of the project. Thus did Sakhya embark upon the second phase of the project which was marked by the following aspirations:

  1. To broaden the vision of intervention to larger issues concerning women, beyond just the problem of dowry
  2. To effect a geographical expansion of services for a wider outreach to women
  3. To network with other organisations for a more effective intervention on the curative, preventive and promotional fronts
  4. To use media more effectively, to document and create greater awareness as a means of education of the public, to draw volunteers and to raise funds for the growing needs of the cause of women.

(One would need to develop the various interventions and programmes of Sakhya during this second phase till the year 2004 when Sakhya was no more a College project and became an independent entity under the Nirmala Institute Trust, with the change of address. You would have to show how Sakhya has developed gradually with increased staff and a widening and varied outreach with newer aspirations and goals. I was told to do only the first part which I have.)