IS INDIA A WELFARE STATE?
Arpita Singh, I Year of B.A.,LL.B, from BMS college of Law, Bengaluru
A welfare state is a form of government that plays a key role in protection and promotion of its citizens in aspects of economic and social well-being. A welfare state tries to provide the basic amenities to its citizens along with health facilities, equal opportunities and equal distribution of wealth.
So can we conclude from this, India being a welfare state just by the virtue of the fact that it claims to be so?
A welfare state is one which takes care of the poor and underprivileged sections of the society. In the case of India, the state simply tries to uplift the impoverished and homeless section, and this alone doesn’t make a country a welfare state.
Let’s consider the example of MNREGA, 2005 which was designed as a corruption free measure to provide 100 days of work to rural people, but eventually it got entangled into the vicious cycle of bureaucracy and logistics.
Many critics claim that a welfare state is not an absolute term, indeed, it is a work in progress. The Indian government has introduced numerous policies with the objective of welfare. The Sarv Siksha Abhiyan , the Beti Bachao Andolan, the establishment of public health units, the execution of vaccination campaigns, the granting of oil and gas subsidies are all examples of such policies.
Although these policies have not succeeded to the extent desired, they have managed to some extent to contribute to the benefit of people of India.
A welfare state tries to provide social security to its citizens without any discrimination. The recent example of Anti CAA and NRC protest all over the country just contradicts the objective of India being a welfare state. Without getting involved in the matter of right and wrong, we all know what happened during these protests. Large number of innocent people had to suffer because of these protests and a few proportions of people among those who were portraying their views against the policies of the government who were fighting for their own rights, had to even lose their lives.
Can we still consider India being a welfare state?
This remains a major question.
One major objective of a welfare state is to provide equal and basic health facilities to its citizens. But in the recent case of covid-19 pandemic situation we all came across cases where corruption took over and finished the lives of poor and needy people. We saw many incidents of hospitals in Delhi and Haryana where a few hospitals falsely claimed its patients to be corona positive just to squeeze money from the hands of people.
When we consider the healthcare situation of our country, India ranks 42 out of 93 countries in the world in the healthcare index 2020. In the past few years, India’s rank was lower than that of Bangladesh and Sudan. It is true that India has improved in this field but only to a few extent. Even this minute change was possible because of the life-threatening attack of coronavirus which led to the improvement in India such as increased number of ventilators, super specialised hospitals, PPE kits, active research wings for research and development of antivirus and above all awareness among the citizens regarding hygiene and health care.
The function of a welfare state is to eradicate illiteracy, provide equal opportunities in the field of education irrespective of any sort of discrimination. When we consider the world literacy index 2020, the literacy rate of India is 77.7 %. Kerala once again emerged as the most literate state and Andhra Pradesh was featured at the bottom. The survey showed that there was a considerable gap in male and female literacy rate. Does that mean that equal opportunities are being actually provided irrespective of the gender?
Nowadays the education system in India is becoming more and more feasible and quite easily available to the richer section of the society, whereas it is getting unapproachable for the middle class or the lower section of the society. In India there are both government schools and private schools, but we all know the difference why people consider private schools first. Why can't there be a system for quality education even in the government schools of India? Why can’t there be recruitment of qualified and well-educated teachers in the government school itself, so that with minimum fee structure every parent or guardian can at least provide the opportunity to their children for education without getting suppressed by the fees of schools, the prices of books and stationery etc.
India’s rank in the World Press Freedom Index 2020 is 142 out of 180 countries with a score of 45.33. Such a formidable performance! The reason behind this performance is quite prominent. In India press and news channels get divided on the basis of their support for the government. The media which is considered to be the guiding source or information centre for the citizens is itself misguided and highly influenced. On our televisions, in the name of news, all we can see is the reporters yelling to prove their points. There’s no appraisal and criticism instead the channels just blindfoldly follow the government and wrongly influence the public opinion. Moreover, if we come across some good reporters who try to understand the root causes of the situations and come up with a solution, then either they are murdered or people don’t pay heed to them or they just vanish. The government can’t be held responsible for this and, to some extent, even the news channels are not at fault. It’s WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA who need to decide whether we need the 'real media' or a media like this popularly known as GODI MEDIA.
Considering the above ranks and indices and the different scenarios of our country, it is definitely sure that India in today’s era is not a welfare state but indeed is trying to be one. Moreover, in the coming days, the citizens of the country will have to initiate and take steps forward to help India in becoming a welfare state and in improving in all aspects of health, education, social well-being, protection and promotion of economic well-being.