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Es­tab­lished in 1936 as the Sir Dorabji Tata Grad­u­ate School of So­cial Work, the in­sti­tute had Dr Clif­ford Man­shardt as its first di­rec­tor, and 20 stu­dents on the ros­ter. It was re­named Tata In­sti­tute of So­cial Sciences (TISS) in 1944; 10 years later, it shifted to a new cam­pus in Deonar, Mumbai, which re­mains its head­quar­ters. The ob­jec­tive was to cre­ate hu­man ser­vice pro­fes­sion­als to work with and en­able peo­ple to over­come poverty, de­pri­va­tion and un­em­ploy­ment. In 1948, in the af­ter­math of Par­ti­tion, on the in­sis­tence of then di­rec­tor Behram Me­hta, a re­lief team of stu­dents and fac­ulty was sent to Delhi to work in refugee camps. This tra­di­tion of re­spond­ing to hu­man needs and nat­u­ral dis­as­ters by send­ing re­lief teams con­tin­ues to this day. “As an in­sti­tu­tion of­fer­ing ed­u­ca­tion in in­ter-dis­ci­plinary ar­eas of so­cial sciences, the cur­ricu­lum strives to en­able stu­dents to un­der­stand the pulse of so­ci­ety and chart change pro­cesses that cre­ate ap­pro­pri­ate so­lu­tions to some of the most press­ing is­sues in the coun­try. They also be­come skilled pro­fes­sion­als ca­pa­ble of work­ing with the gov­ern­ment, in the cor­po­rate world as well as in civil so­ci­ety,” says S. Par­sura­man, di­rec­tor of TISS since 2004.


Na­tional courts have in­vited the in­sti­tute fac­ulty to serve as am­i­cus cu­riae in sev­eral crit­i­cal cases. For in­stance, the Mumbai High Court asked TISS to in­ves­ti­gate the causes of farm­ers’ sui­cides in Ma­ha­rash­tra in 2005. In 2015, the Al­la­habad High Court di­rected the UP gov­ern­ment to seek the sup­port of TISS to de­velop an in­sti­tu­tional frame­work to se­cure the safety of women and chil­dren. In the same year, the Supreme Court di­rected TISS to de­velop stan­dard oper­at­ing pro­ce­dures to trace miss­ing chil­dren. TISS plays var­i­ous strate­gic roles in its work with gov­ern­ment projects of crit­i­cal na­tional im­por­tance: knowl­edge gen­er­a­tion, ca­pac­ity build­ing, pol­icy de­vel­op­ment, in­no­va­tion and demon­stra­tion, pro­gramme design and im­ple­men­ta­tion, or­gan­i­sa­tional de­vel­op­ment and re­struc­tur­ing, as well as eval­u­a­tion, re­view and re­search.

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