National Service Scheme, under the Ministry of Youth Affairs & Sports Govt. of India, popularly known as NSS was launched in Gandhiji's Birth Centenary Year 1969, in 37 Universities involving 40,000 students with primary focus on the development of personality of students through community service. Today, NSS has more than 3.2 million student volunteers on its roll spread over 298 Universities and 42 (+2) Senior Secondary Councils and Directorate of Vocational Education all over the country. From its inception, more than 3.75 crores students from Universities, Colleges and Institutions of higher learning have benefited from the NSS activities, as student volunteers.
After independence the University Grants Commission, headed by S. Radhakrishnan, recommended the introduction of voluntary national service in academic institutions. This idea was again considered by the Central Advisory Board of Education (CABE) at its meeting in January, 1950; after examining the idea and the experiences of other countries in this field, the board recommended that students and teachers should devote time to voluntary manual work. In the draft first Five-Year Plan adopted by the government in 1952, the need for social and labour service by Indian students for one year was stressed. In 1958 Jawaharlal Nehru, in a letter to the chief ministers, considered the idea of social service as a prerequisite for graduation. He directed the Ministry of Education to formulate a suitable scheme for the introduction of national service into academic institutions.