Man is a social creature. This means he cannot live alone he lives in a society consisting not of his own family but also of some other families. And the peace and happiness of each individual depend to a great extent upon what he gets from the other members of his society. So we are all indebted to one another in some form or another. Thus arises the duty of social service, ----the duty of paying back a part of our obligations by doing some service to society.
This service may be done in different forms. The rich may help the society by founding school and colleges and hospitals. The educated may take up the work of bringing the light of knowledge to the illiterate poor, or teaching then lessons on morality, sanitation and a good, healthy life. Even the poor and illiterate may offer words of kindness and sympathy to persons in distress, or physical service such as nursing the sick and doing relief work. There is, therefore, no excuse for anybody if he fails in this duty of social service.
Fortunately for mankind, this instinct of social service is natural to many. This is why beggars manage to live; natural disasters like flood and cyclone and earthquake find bands of volunteers for relief work; the Bharat Sevasram Sangha and Ramkrishna Mission do not lack devoted workers for their acts of Philanthropy. The Red Cross, the World Health Organization, the Rockfeller Foundation, etc. are social service institutions, serving the people of the whole world.
The students have an important role in this respect. They have idealism and great energy. This is why they are the first to come forward in works of social service. And though learning is their chief concern, this spirit of service should be encouraged. There is a proposal to make social service for a certain period compulsory for every student. There are many practical difficulties in giving effect to the proposal. But it is open to objection from another point of view, Compulsion generates a spirit of revolt. So compulsory service, instead of producing the desired result, may make it unpopular. Social service is effective only when it is voluntary. What is wanted is to make the students conscious of their obligations to society. This done, they will not be found wanting.