DEGREE OF PRIDE
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.
SHAPING THE NATION
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.