I take this appropriate opportunity to embark upon a brief journey down the memory lane. Let me start by putting on the record the very challenging and fortunate circumstances under which the upgradation of our existing certificate course in family counselling into a postgraduate diploma course in counselling by the University of Calcutta. Building on our almost three-decade-long experience of running one of the premier and oldest counselling course in the country, we had felt the need to upgrade the same in response to a long-standing demand express by a sizeable segment of the participants of the successive certificate courses and other professional associates and collaborators of ours. They have always wanted us to link up the previous exercise with a more viably structured academic programme with sound and sustainable career options.
At this juncture of burgeoning globalized development initiatives and opportunities, counselling has acquired a pivotal significance in diverse job markets covering all the sectors of our economy. Duly trained counsellors are very much in demand in the human resource division of government, commercial and development sector organisations. Mounting stress and strains keep piling up almost on a day-to-day basis in our homes and workplaces, generating multilayered complication in interpersonal, group and community relationship.
The almost total breakdown of the joint family system has gone a long way in destroying mechanisms of conciliation and arbitration he could draw upon in all sort of crisis situations. Herein lies the growing necessity and importance of the modern practice of counselling and also the paramount need for acquiring requisite academic knowledge and technical skills if we are to take up this activity with a fair amount of dedication and commitment in the twin context of “mind-body” and “family-society” interfaces. The present-day science and art of counselling is predicated upon professional expertise and/or vocational seriousness.
LASWEB’s previous certificate course in family counselling was conceived following the passage of the Legal Service Authorities Act, 1987, wherein consideration of pre-litigation conciliation and settlement were emphasized as for providing effective legal support to disadvantaged and inconvenienced people. Lok Adalats[people’s courts] became the preferred instrument for delivering speedy justice and a way out of the perennial protection of legal trials. A little earlier the of the Family Courts Act, 1984 had created specific modalities and provisions for counselling. Our counselling course, one of the first of it’s kind in the country, came into being in this developing milieu of systemic empathy and dispensation of judicial concern. In addition to imparting legal literacy, we did realize that prospective counsellors should also acquire some basic knowledge of psychology, physiology and sociology. After having complete the 26th certificate course less than a month back, I now feel rather nostalgic about what we have passed through during this long period and at the same time would like to entre firmly into the next phase to take up the new challenges that our current diploma course has presented before us at this point in time.
Working in close conformity with the National Committee for Legal Aid Service – India[NCFLAS] and the Association of the Retired Judges of the Supreme and High Courts in India, LASWEB has networked and partnered extensively with the judicial academies, state legal services authorities, law universities and other legal research institutions functioning in different part of the countries. We have carried out projects and programmes in collaboration with foreign legal aid and human rights organisations. The participants of the diploma course will have full benefits of remaining in touch with these organisation and institutions to pursue their own individual personal plans. They will also be guided substantially through viable placement initiatives by a select group of very distinguished resource persons.. Sitting and retired judges of the Supreme and High courts of India, well known legal practitioners, eminent academics from some of our leading law and other universities and social activists and established counsellors will provide them with theoretical knowledge and practical expertise from the diverse field of law, psychology, physiology and sociology. The course will cover the six sub-disciplines of Career Counselling, Industrial Counselling , Environmental L:aw, Gender Justice, Juvenile Justice and Issues of Public Interest Litigation and Right to Information in tune with the spirit of what’s now being demanded of democratic governance based on socio-legal empowerment and access to cost-effective and quality justice.
We have come a long ways and do intend to travel further in the direction of creating holistic academic excellence through a balanced curriculum of practically viable technical instructions. I would welcome functioning and retired professionals and service holders from the government, non-governmental and corporate sectors, lawyers and judicial officers, duly inclined enthusiast and lay persons from all walks of life, students, housewives and self-employed persons to do this course. Together we can make a difference. It’s going to be a difference to be manifested in our courage of conviction with which we will strive to serve our own people in varied family, community and social settings. By putting best efforts to produce counsellors of substance, we shall be fulfilling our human service commitment in a befitting manner.
I would wish all concerned a grand success in this educational endeavour and once again extend a hearty welcome to those who will come forward to do this post-graduate diploma course.