What is Welfare State?
Welfare State is a concept of government where the state plays a significant role in protecting and promoting the economic and social well-being of its people. Basically it is a government or a state which aims at the welfare of people. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth and public responsibility for the people who are unable to afford minimal provisions to live a good life. The government can help its needy citizens by providing them either money or services. Cash payments, concessions, subsidies, public distributions and grants all come under welfare.
Today almost every democratic country in the world is a welfare state. The responsibilities of the government are extensive and diversified in a welfare state. Earlier the concept of state was something different, it meant a police state. The primary responsibility of the government was to ensure the safety and security of its citizens. Democracy has changed the functions and role of government. Democracy has been redefined with the establishment of welfare state.
A welfare state takes care of its poor, unemployed, sick, disabled and other oppressed group of people. It provides health care, social insurance, education, housing, and old age pensions in order to eliminate economic and social inequalities. Unemployed people also get unemployment compensations from the government. America, Canada, Australia and most of the European democratic countries are welfare states.
Relevance in Indian Scenario
India is described as a welfare state by the Preamble and Directive Principles of State Policy embodied in Part IV of the Indian Constitution. The government of India has established a diverse and extensive social welfare system. India is fully committed to the welfare and development of its citizens, especially the weaker section like the schedule casts (SCs), scheduled tribes (STs), minorities, disabled and other backward people. Seats are reserved for them in all government educational institutes, government jobs, Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha. The Indian government has also passed laws for abolishing the social evil untouchability, Zamindari and Begar system. Poor people can get essential commodities at a low price in fair price shops. The government has produced several development programmes for the empowerment of women and lower cast people.
However, welfare policies in India are not properly monitored and implemented. Several government hospitals, schools and colleges lack basic infrastructure and facilities. According to various surveys the government also fails to provide adequate social security to the working poor.
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