Question – A welfare state is based on the principles of equality of opportunity and equitable distribution of wealth. Discuss how realistic is the concept of Indian welfare state. – 15 September 2021
A welfare state is a form of government in which a state or a clearly established set of social institutions provides basic economic security to its citizens. The welfare state is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth and public responsibility for those unable to take advantage of the minimum provisions of a good life.
Equality, justice, liberty, rationality and individualism have been the main objectives of the welfare state. The main objective of the public welfare state is also to bring about ‘social change’ in a planned manner, and an important objective of social change is social justice. The concept of social justice flourished due to the rise of democracy and public welfare state and the worldwide popularity of human rights.
Under social justice, it is said that all persons are equal by birth and all have a sense of human dignity and pride. The purpose of public welfare state is to establish this social justice.
(Functions of Welfare State)
As far as the functions of the public welfare state are concerned, these are the functions which are necessary for the success of the state-
- Bridging the distance between the administrator and the public – The most important thing in the work of a public welfare state is to reduce the distance between the administrator and the public. And this can be possible only when the functions of social administration are linked with the functions of public welfare.
- Concept of social justice – The second important task of public welfare is to advance the concept of social justice. The concept of social justice has grown rapidly in democracy and public welfare states. For this, it wants to end the distinction of person-person on many other grounds including caste, religion, race, sex, race, color and softness. Under social justice, efforts are made to achieve this through fundamental rights, policy directive principles, social legislations, social policy and social planning.
- Social Policy – Another major function of the public welfare state is related to social policy. Many welfare policies are included under social policy, of which the reservation policy is the most important.
- Social planning – It is the function of the public welfare state to fulfill the functions of the state through social planning. Special programs and schemes of social welfare are conducted through social planning, so that weak and discriminated people can be brought in the basic stream of the society.
- Public cooperation – Public cooperation is the lifeblood of a public welfare state. Since a public welfare state conducts many policies and plans to achieve its ultimate objective, it is important to pursue its program with the help of public cooperation, because for the success of welfare schemes, the contribution of the public should be practical.
In pursuance of the welfare state, the Indian state has provided many schemes and policies. for example:
- By applying Article 16(4), the Government can make provision for reservation of appointments or posts in favor of any backward class which is not adequately represented in the State Services.
- Pursuant to Article 21A, Parliament enacted the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009. The Act seeks to provide that every child has the right to full-time elementary education.
- The Maternity Benefit Act (1961) and the Equal Remuneration Act (1976) have been enacted to protect the interests of women workers.
- All the schemes like Ayushman Bharat, Jal Jeevan Mission, Saubhagya Yojana etc. are steps towards fulfilling the mandate of the state.
Challenges before India to become a welfare state:
- Several global reports have emphasized that income inequality is increasing in India especially after the LPG reforms.
- Prevalence of discrimination on the basis of gender, caste and minority (communal violence) across the country.
- Gradual rise in the level of unemployment in recent years
- In India, the steps being taken to save capitalism are seen as a factor in creating a gap between the poor and the rich rather than preventing the unrest.
A state is the mandate of any mature democracy. Therefore, both citizens and the government should strive to make the society more inclusive and equitable. As it is known that equality of opportunity provides equal opportunities to all sections of the society, equitable distribution of wealth empowers them to maximize their productivity and contribution to society.
Government schemes like Stand-up India, Start up India, Jan-Dhan Yojana and land reform policies and policies like reservation for the deprived sections of job opportunities are some of the steps being taken by the government to ensure equitable distribution of wealth.