Social Welfarism in India
It is almost impossible to define Social Welfare. Its ambit is so vast that one cannot give a precise explanation as to what one means by social welfare in a state. Going through various explanations of ‘Social Welfarism’, the best explanation that one can make out is that social welfarism is the carrying out of the activities in order to carter to the special needs of persons and groups who by reasons of some handicap, social, economic, physicals or mental are unable to avail themselves of the amenities and services provided by the community. Some of the weaker sections of the society are, women, children, handicapped, aged and infirm, Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes etc. Social Welfarism is not a recently developed phenomenon, but has been developing in some or the other way, since the evolution of the mankind.
India has been a welfare state and the India n Constitution has embedded the same in the Part IV of the Indian Constitution which is the Directive Principles for the State Policy. Various Articles have awarded for the welfare of the state. Article 38 says, “The State shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting as effectively as it may a social order in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all the institutions of the national life”.
Article 39 speaks of, a) Adequate means of livelihood; b) Distribution of natural resources so as best to sub serve the common good; c) Opposition to the concentration of wealth; d) Equal pay for equal work for both men and women; e) conservation of health and strength of workers- especially of women and children; f) The non-exploitation of children.
Article 41 speaks of the State securing the right to work, to education, and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement.
Therefore the Indian Constitution lays down the principles in order to have social welfarism across the country. The concept of social welfarism is also carried out in various countries. The biggest achievement that the mankind has achieved by way of social welfarism is ‘Democracy’. It has enabled the people to transform and have a peaceful life. The Equals are treated equal and fairness is maintained throughout. Be it Britain, USA, China, Russia or France, social welfarism has been the priority of the Government.
For the same instance, a vast social insurance scheme has been in operation today in Britain. The policy drafted there is such that all those of working age contribute to it except housewives. Such provision is made for the welfare of the old age retirement benefits, widow’s benefits, unemployment benefits, family allowances for families with two or more children, milk for school children, milk and special food for expectant and nursing mothers, free medical service, free secondary education, as result of this social welfarism there is high level of economic satisfaction.
So far as India is concerned it is very difficult to analyze and come to conclusion that despite having enshrined the concept of ‘social welfarism’ in the Constitution has it been able to achieve social welfarism for its people. The Directive Principles where the principles of social welfarism have been enshrined is upto the state to decide and frame policy to achieve such principles. The biggest problem for achievement of the social welfarism is that this Part IV is not enforceable at the court of law. Moreover there are many other hindrances to achieve social welfarism. Despite this the Government of India has been able to achieve commendable welfarism. A very classic example of this is, the initiative, called RSBY (Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana), is singled out for praise in a big review of India’s multifarious welfare schemes. Introduced in April 2008, RSBY has so far doled out 23.5m smart cards to poor households, entitling up to five family members to 30,000 rupees of hospital treatment per year. There’s even a bit of money to pay for transport.
Despite the great hindrances which stand in the way of social planning, the social welfare movement has been, nevertheless, gaining ground in India as in other countries. The Planning Commission set up by the Government of India in March 1950 to prepare a plan for the most effective and balanced utilization of the country’s resource formulates the programme of social welfare in India. The Five Year Plan concept has been a great success. In the First Five Year Plan a sum of Rs. 1.60 crore was to be allocated to be spent under the had “Social Welfare”. In the Second Five Year Plan a sum of Rs. 13.40 crore was embarked under the same head. In the Third Five Year Plan, the allocation was Rs. 19.40 crore. Similarly in the Sixth Five Year Plan the amount was raised upto Rs. 799.97 crore.
There are various departments which have come into existence for ‘Social Welfarism’. The first is The Department of Social Welfare created in 1964 and elevated to an Independent Ministry of Welfare under the Central Government and was responsible for general social welfare. It plans in social welfare programmes and co-ordinates welfare services maintained by the Government of India, the State Government and the national voluntary agencies. The second is the Central Social Welfare Board was setup in August 1953 to distribute funds to voluntary social service organizations for “strengthening, improving and extending” the existing activities in the field of social welfare and for developing new programmes and carrying out pilot projects the Board is also vested with the task of exploring the need for and the possibility of implementing new welfare activities.
In today’s time the Social Welfarism has to be a part and parcel of each policy in order to have bright and prosperous future. The government has been working in various fields to maintain social welfare with all community and in all states. Various fields of social welfare are, Women Welfare, Child Welfare, Welfare of Physically Handicapped, Welfare of Scheduled Tribes, Urban Poverty Alleviation, Disaster Management, etc.
The article will further deal with the critical analysis of Urban Poverty Alleviation.
Urban Poverty Alleviation
The point of choosing this topic is that everytime when the welfare is taken into consideration, it is the Rural Welfare. The newspapers and the news channels are all the time concerned with the rural upliftment. No doubt that welfare of the rural population is of major concern, but the welfare of the urban population cannot be ignored and is becoming one of the major concern of today’s time.
In the Federal structure of the Indian polity, the matters pertaining to the housing and urban development have been assigned by the Constitution of India to the State Governments. The Constitutions (74th Amendment) Act have further delegated many of these functions to the urban local bodies. The constitutional and legal authority of the Government of India is limited only to Delhi and other Union Territories and to the subject which State Legislatures authorize the Union Parliament to legislate.
However, the provisions of the Constitution notwithstanding, the Government of India plays a much more important role and exercise a larger influence to shape the policies and programmes of the country as a whole. Policies and programme contents are decided at the time of formulation of Five Year Plans. The indirect effect of the fiscal, economic and industrial location decisions of the Government of India exercise a far more dominant influence on the pattern of urbanization and real estate investment in the country. All the policies are under the supervision of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation.
Various schemes and policies laid down by the government in order to achieve Urban Poverty Alleviation are:
- National Urban Housing and Habitat Policy, 2007.
- Rajiv Awas Yojna
1. National Urban Housing and Habitat Policy, 2007
The policy document by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation outlines the current housing situation in India in the context of urbanisation, the large influx of population from the rural areas to urban areas in the metropolitan cities in India, the urgent need for provision of housing and basic services to the population in the urban areas and promotion of sustainable habitats in the country.
In view of this scenario, and the housing shortage and budgetary constraints of both the central and state governments, the policy highlights the need for promotion of public-private partnerships to reach its goal of Affordable Housing for All. In order to do this, it encourages involvement of multiple stake-holders such as the private sector, the cooperative sector, the industrial sector for labour housing and the services/institutional sector for employee housing.
However, ‘Land’ and ‘Colonisation’ being State subjects, it is primarily the responsibility of State Governments to take follow up measures in pursuance of the policy advocacy. Further, the Central Government has taken several measures and implementing schemes for providing affordable housing to urban poor. Further the analysis of the policy put forward the following points:
- The Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), launched by the Government in the year 2005 caters to provision of housing and basic services to urban poor in slums in 65 specified cities under the Sub Mission Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP) and in other cities and towns under the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP).
- The Interest Subsidy Scheme for Housing the Urban Poor (ISHUP) provides for interest subsidy on housing loans to the Economically Weaker Sections (EWS) and Low Income Group (LIG) as part of credit-enablement measures and encourages those households to avail of loan facilities through Commercial Banks/Housing Finance Companies for the purposes of construction/acquisition of houses and avail 5% subsidy in interest payment for loans upto Rs. 1 lakh.
- The scheme of Affordable Housing in Partnership seeks assembly of land for construction of affordable housing and provides Central Government assistance towards provision of internal and external infrastructure connectivity.
- Furthermore, the Government has announced a new scheme called Rajiv Awas Yojana (RAY) for providing support to States that are willing to provide property rights to slum dwellers.
With its focus on urban housing, the policy aims at promoting sustainable development of habitat in the country with a view to ensuring equitable supply of land shelter and services at affordable prices to all sections of the society. However, given the magnitude of the housing shortage and the staggering requirements of funds, public sector efforts alone will not suffice in fulfilling the requirement due to budgetary constraints of both Central and State Governments. Even the policy aims at forging strong partnerships between the public private and cooperative sectors for accelerated growth in the housing sector and sustainable development of habitat.
2. Rajiv Awas Yojna:
At the time of passing of the scheme then President, Pratibha Patil, while addressing the Parliament said, “The scheme for affordable housing through partnership and the scheme for interest subsidy for urban housing would be dovetailed into the Rajiv Awas Yojana which would extend support under JNNURM to states that are willing to assign property rights to people living in slum areas”.
The scheme provides for the financial assistance to the States by the Centre, who are willing to assign property rights to slum dwellers for provision of shelter and basic civic and social services for slum re-development and for creation of affordable housing stock under the RAY scheme. The scheme had been designed on the basis of experience of the Jawaharlal National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) sub-mission of Basic Services to the Urban Poor (BSUP) and the Integrated Housing and Urban Development Programme (HSDP).
A critical part of the programme, amounting to one-fourth of such projects, is developing rental accommodation. According to government estimates, rapid population growth and increasing urbanization are exerting tremendous pressure on the available land and infrastructure in urban areas. At the beginning of the 11th Five-Year Plan period (2007-12) the housing shortage in urban areas was around 24.71 million units, out of which 99% was in the EWS and low income group (LIG) categories, according to these estimates.
The scheme provides for developing a robust database on slums, which is critical for implementation o the proposed Rajiv Awas Yojna(RAY). The concerned Ministry has released funds for Slum/Household/Livelihoods surveys in 394 class I cities having more than one lakh popu;ation in the country.
So far as the nature of the welfare state is concerned, the first important thing to remember is that welfare is not a matter of charity, but of right. Welfare as understood here does not carry with it any stigma of pauperism. Secondly, if the welfare is to be genuine welfare, the ground for it should have been prepared earlier by the various agencies at the work in the State. Unless the minds and attitudes of men and women are attuned to the heaven falling into the mouths of an expectant people. And thirdly, if the welfare state is to be a blessing and not a curse, it should not produce a pauper mentality on the part of its recipients. Be whatever the State have done, care should be taken not to dry up the wells of initiative and self-help.
There are many hindrances to the social welfarism in India be it the low level production or the population. The welfarism will always have some or the other kind of hindrance. Comparing India with the United States, the per captia income of US is about $1800 a year, while that of India is as low as $100 a year. Millions do not even get that amount. If actual welfarism is to achieve we need to increase our national production, for which we need far-reaching moral and institutional changes. Through our homes, our educational and religious institutions, civic associations, our recreational and social clubs, and our party cells we must instill in people a keen desire for honest, sustained and arduous work.
We must take care that every welfare measure enacted in good faith opens up opportunities for the illicit gain. This means that those who administer welfare as well as those on whose behalf it is administered should develop a high degree of personal integrity. If large amount of money is spent on welfare is consumed by a top-heavy administration or is diverted into wrong channels as is the case at times the game is not worth the candle. We must take care that in the name of “Welfare” we must not drive ourselves to national bankruptcy.
A solution which the Government should take in order to have social welfare is that ‘a minimum wage legislation’. It is one of the earliest step that the welfare state should undertake. A corollary is that is that the quantity and quality of work performed should be commensurate with the wages received. This policy implementation would help in Urban Poverty Alleviation.
It is the elementary duty of every democratic state to teach some kind of skill or other to every citizen. Basic education is another such duty. It should be imparted to as far as possible, because it is the only key to social welfarism. The vision which we see to be a super power by 2020, can only be achieved when education is imparted to each section of the society.
In order to have fully secured social welfarism in India, the states should keep national interest above their private interest. The very example of Dehradun flood that took place recently last month, showed that when other states came forward for help, then due to political pressure the help was not taken as the state offering help had the Chief Minister of the rival party. The feeling of nationalism and equality has to be embedded as it the key to social welfarism. Be it rich or the poor, both have to come forward for social welfarism as it is the only way the very objective social welfarism can be achieved. Another solution for social welfarism is the population control. If the population control is not taken into consideration then no social welfarism can be achieved as every problem is some or the other way has a hindrance in the form of population.
Lastly the government should remove the mediatory agent and have direct interaction with the public at large. Many documentaries have shown the misuse of the funds. Therefore the Government should popularize its policy and make people as much aware as possible. Various surveys done by the NGOs have shown that people even in urban areas are still not aware of the use of the ‘Adhaar Cards’. They have been provided with these cards but they have no idea as to what to do with it.
 An Introduction to Sociology, by Vidya Bhushan and D.R. Sachdeva
 An Introduction to Sociology, by Vidya Bhushan and D.R. Sachdeva