The name 'social policy' is used to apply

1. to the policies which governments use for welfare and social protection
2. to the ways in which welfare is developed in a society, and
3. to the academic study of the subject.
In the first sense, social policy is particularly concerned with social services and the
welfare state. In the second, broader sense, it stands for a range of issues extending far
beyond the actions of government - the means by which welfare is promoted, and the
social and economic conditions which shape the development of welfare.

It may also be clarified that the term 'policy' is not being used here in the sense of what is
expedient or advantageous for the time being. In other words sometimes what is pragmatic is
called policy and what is based on principles is referred to as doctrinaire. Therefore, it is better to
say that social policy is designed to specify social objectives, the manner of harnessing the
available resources and the pattern of their, deployment for achieving those objectives. The
social objectives themselves are set out in or are derived from formal national consensus as
reflected in the constitution of the country.

elements of Social Policy
The nature and scope of social policy as described in earlier paragraphs covers at least four
elements as follows: (i) social objectives of national development plans; (ii) social service
programmes in successive five year plans; (iii) concern for the protection and promotion of the
interests of the weaker sections of the population; and (iv) peoples' own involvement in the
formulation and implementation of policies and plans at various levels.

As against this, social welfare policy, as it deals with a particular sector of national endeavour ,
is something more specific and limited. It cover those purposeful and organised interventions
necessary to protect and rehabilitate such segments of the population which are unable to cope
with the demands of life on their own. In their case the family cannot by itself find an adequate
solution nor can it 'buy' the requisite service(s) in the market. They are the people who need
purposefully organised intervention by the community or state to provide need-based differential
care. Thus, one may generalise that while the underlying spirit in social policy is the concern for

. in considerable detail. the principle behind social welfare policy is the urge to provide enabling measures for those who are unable on account of some innate or acquired social disability to benefit from the general programmes of social services available to the rest of the population. promotive and distributive sense. In extreme cases it has even been referred to as 'justice with or without growth'. for the Second Development Decade referred to it as 'integrated development'. Such a social policy may also help bring about institutional or systemic change. This was reflected in preambles to the official documents on five year plans with phrases like 'growth with justice'. and sophistication and diversification of science and technology in order to make the economy modern and prosperous are facets of economic policy. like raising the national GNP and per capita incomes.N. a question is often asked as to the precise difference between economic policy and social policy. In the first place. Social Policy and Economic Policy Since social policy is now expected to influence national development plans. the international strategy adopted by the U. the difference of emphasis and approach is sufficiently indicative to bring out the difference between economic and social policy. This is relfected in the rather simple definition of development which was at one time recorded in the U. The integration sought to be achieved was not just of social change with economic growth but social justice in its protective. if not more. it went further to advocate growth for justice. It speaks of development as growth plus change or more elaborately economic growth with social change. in some instances. Models of development plans based on such economic policies have been found to be one sided and not very successful. In fact.N. Constitutional Base Most writings on social policy in India have drawn heavily upon the Indian Constitution drafted. documents. One might note that the case for reinforcing economic growth with social policy came towards the end of the fifties when the sixties were declared as the first United Nations Development Decade. In any case. there is a growing awareness that even social welfare policy could shift its focus from relief and charity to prevention and development. Of late. They are conceived in purely material terms relying on the input/output equations of material resources. important source of social policy in India has been the series of official documents on five year plans which have outlined justice. The second equally. That is why there is the well known finding both on theoretical considerations and practical experience that economic growth is a necessary but not a sufficient condition for development. a policy designed almost exclusively in terms of economic objectives. Taking that experience into consideration. debated and adopted in the Constituent Assembly of India set up specifically for the purpose shortly before the attainment of political independence in 1947. Economic policy can be supplemented and complemented by the objectives and operations designed to bring about equality of opportunity and narrowing the differences of wealth and income. social and economic.

one finds no evidence at all of any substantial or significant content of a Welfare State programme assigned to the Government at any of the three levels. however. In fact. As against this. Most of the legislation that has been enacted during the last thirty years whether for institutional changes like land reforms or for the protection of the weaker sections of the population (e. A low-income country having between forty to sixty per cent people below the poverty line. places for the reception and treatment of 'lunatics' and mentally deficient (item 16). workmen's compensation. borstal institutions and other institutions of a like nature (item 4 of the State List). Social security measures for the bulk of the population against the major contingencies of life are not only nonexistent on the statute book but there is no possibility of providing them. in the foreseeable future.g. This is altogether unsubstantiated either by the textual provisions of the Constitution or by the laws enacted under it. The reason why we have assumed India to be a Welfare State is found in the language of the Directive Principles of State Policy which is -very much influenced by 'welfare state' that was thick in the air at the time when India's constitution was being formulated. if one were to refer to the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution which gives the Union. charities and charitable institutions. economically speaking. reformatories. Concurrent and State Lists of legislative subjects. Specific Articles like 38 and 46 are often cited as relevant sources of social policy. provident fund.Within the Constitution. Part IV on the Directive Principles of State Policy is usually cited as the main source of India's social policy. employers' liability. The following items listed variously give an indication of the nature and extent of social welfare responsibilities assigned to various levels in the government under the Constitution. These are. relief of the disabled and unemployable appear under item 9 of the same list. and relief and rehabilitation of displaced persons (item 27). removal of untouchability) is also regarded as indicative of social policy in operation. . a mixed economy with a commitment to socialist objectives cannot claim to be a Welfare State as well. welfare of labour including conditions of work. One chronic myth that has been exploded in the light of experience is the implicit assumption that India is a Welfare State—at least one in the making. pensions for the invalid and the aged and maternity benefits (item 24). the Concurrent List provides for programmes for the regulation of vagrancy and for the relief and rehabilitation of nomadic and migratory tribes (item 15). charitable and religious endowments and religious institutions (item 28).

for instance. where self-employed persons far outnumber those who are employed and where the bulk of the people do not pay income tax. Only item 20 of the Concurrent List provides for a broad cover for other aspects of social policy under the omnibus term 'economic and social planning'. . local governments. Over the years except for a sizeable proportion of the industrial working class and the core of personnel in Government agencies. there are either those who are yet not sufficiently integrated with the mainstream of the economy like tribal communities or others who suffer from the double disability of social discrimination compounding and perpetuating poverty like in the case of the scheduled castes. In a country where unemployment and underemployment are chronically high. etc. progress in the provision and enlargement of benefits under social security/social insurance has been very tardy and fragmentary. ensuring peoples" participation in the formulation of policies and plans and in their implementation at various levels. development of human resources. public health and sanitation. In the first place.Certain other items in the State List do have a bearing on the wider aspects of social needs and problems. protection and promotion of the interests of the weaker sections of the population and creating conditions in which they could develop in accordance with their own cultural genius. income and opportunities (conversely prevention of concentration of economic power in the hands of a few). This may be examined under certain broad heads. bringing about the necessary attitudinal and institutional changes. cover administration of justice. Among the weaker sections. Social Policy in Development Plans Since national Planning was chosen as the main instrument of development. social security benefits have scarcely touched the bulk of the population. there are the other handicapped or maladjusted sections of the population who have been traditionally special clients of social workers. Although social security and social insurance are listed under item 3 of the Concurrent List. narrowing the disparities of wealth. Other backward classes suffer from a lag in development arising from traditional social stratification and chronic poverty. the idea of social security/social insurance remains only notional. promotion of employment. intoxicating liquors and drugs. the working of the various consitutional provisions on social policy can best be seen in the actual programmes planned and in their implementation.there are the social objectives of a development plan such as eradication of poverty. . Besides. These. These are the other groups who are in need of special care owing to some physical or mental handicap or a condition of economic deprivation and social neglect.

It pointed out that income dispartiy in the urban areas had widened more than those of rural areas. The converse process of 'levelling up' may take a much longer time and could only be the cumulative result of the total developmental process. 1964) came up with an equivocal finding. with a small class of the rich and a large mass of the poor (below the proverty line). It was not until the beginning of the Fourth Five Year Plan that the twin objective of 'growth with justice' was officially incorporated in the preamble to the plan. it may suffice to mention that certain legislative and executive measures were introduced to prevent concentration of economic power in the hands of a few and for curbing undue and unearned incomes and consequent ostentatious expenditure. Take for instance. This is another example of the relevance of social policy to economic growth and its impact on the social aspects of development. This produced spectacular results over a short period of time—a season or two. in the short run at any rate. the result is only levelling down'. From the policy point of view. which is that it should distribute wealth and not poverty. and it was hoped that complex issue and needs deeper and more detailed analysis. given suitable weather. it was possible to bring about a certain increase in the output. . even a year or two—but sustaining such an increase and the improvement of production on an enduring basis required much more than mere material inputWhile modernisation of the implements and inputs is essential for increased production. the so-called green revolution.A review of most of these aspects yields the following general observations which have been fairly well documented both in the official evaluation reports and in non-official studies. With a qualitative and quantitative improvement in the agricultural inputs. This could be done only by bringing about side by side a suitable institutional change. Social Objectives As for the redistributive objective of social policy. These were introduced in pursuance of a socialist policy to promote egaltarianism. Certain institutional changes were gradually but surely recognised as the necessary concomitant of the transfer of technology. when such attempts are made in a low-income country. land reforms to match with the green revolution. for instance. Institutional Change Social policy implications of technological change also became evident both on empirical grounds as well as on doctrinaire considerations. However. the report of the Committee on Distribution of Income and Levels of Living (Mahalanobis. it was made out that the claims of distributive justice often clashed with economic imperatives. however. was itself not enough for the modernistion of the economy. In the interim. Even so. it is not by itself enough to sustain it. It was found that modem technology. such a policy only belies the principles of distributive justice in the context of development. whether adopted wholesale from the more advanced countries or adapted to suit local conditions.

it was found that this employment potential failed to materialise to the extent estimated. This was initially stipulated for a period of 10 years which has been extended till 1990. The Weaker Sections The most important single element of social policy relates to the special Constitutional safeguards and provisions made for the protection and promotion of the interests of those segments of the population which had traditionally suffered from discrimination.Employment Promotion During the earlier periods of planning..g. In fact. there is abolition of discrimination or segregation in the public places (Article 17—abolition of untouchability). the employment potential of each plan was announced at the beginning of each plan period. Very often. although the correlation between investment and employment was admitted. Here again. grants for subsidiary occupations. It needed considerable modification in the strategy of development planning. Concern for more and better employment became evident in the revised strategies of development. employment would automatically be generated. by working out some kind of a ratio between investment and employment. The special measures for the weaker sections fall broadly in three categories. a massive and mounting programme of freeships and scholarships at all stages of education and a series of other measures to suit the specific needs of different sections of the backward classes. e. The second category of measures provided reservation of a certain percentage of places in educational and training institutions as also in employment in government organisations and public undertakings. rural-urban migration. the choice and adaptation of the technology. it was assumed that with progressively larger investment. The third category of programmes comprise development and welfare projects as part of successive five year plans. and the choice of technology—all these have vital impact on the employment potential of a project. it was discovered that the actual extent of employment potential depended on several factors in addition to investment. the rate of growth of population. . The equal importance of employment with the growth in the GNP has come to be regarded as much a concern of social policy as of sound economic growth. the number of entrants into labour market year after year. provision of house sites and assistance for housing. and balancing the claims of modernisation and 'economies of scale' with human needs. First. This was further backed up by appropriate Central and State enactments. These include a wide range of schemes and projects for settlement on land. credit for economic projects in agriculture and industry. isolation or alienation. This is yet another area which clearly brings out the indivisible nature of the develop ment process wherein the social and the economic elements must fuse together to produce the desired impact. the backlog of employment and underemployment.

Several reviews have been attempted to evaluate the impact of all these measures. They constitute a political strength that cannot be easily ignored. The problem is. the slightly better off groups and communities have benefited to a significantly greater extent. leaving the weakest among them still further behind Social Services From the viewpoint of social policy. however. Secondly. The mutually reinforcing inter-relationship between the social and economic sectors came to be appreciated after the unhappy experience in the earlier plans. appropriate institutions and scientific base or technical know how. The decision is not easy because under adult suffrage law the weaker sections constitute a very substantial proportion of voters. not of 'how much' but whether this policy can ever achieve success in the desired direction. The reordering of priorities in the subsequent plans especially for education and health and of course for population control came on the rebound. as it were. Many of economic projects remained unimplemented or under-implemented because of lack of right attitudes. First there is the relative importance of social services sectors and major economic sectors of agriculture and industry. namely. much remains to be done. As for the first. there has been a standing grievance that social services as a whole have been given a rather secondary place in the order of priorities. It is a dilemma for policy makers whether the developmental and welfare programmes for the weaker sections should be caste related or need based. The trend does not seem to be in that direction. promoted articulation of their demands and organisation on their part with the explicit intention of building up pressure lobbies. it has been represented that even within the weaker sections. some gains of economic growth were nullified because of ' population explosion'. The assumption seems to have been as though the economic sectors are autonomous and that once they generate enough resources. The level of aspirations has certainly gone up very appreciably. to make the weaker sections so self-reliant that they can emerge from the dependency status and whether the need for special measures would cease. social service programmes in India's five year plans need to be examined from two angles. If one were to judge them from the base line (position before the measures) these special programmes provided for the weaker sections have cumulatively made a significant impact on awakening consciousness of their rights and privileges under the constitution and in law. the inter se priorities and relationships among social services themselves also need to be examined. However. secondly. . in terms of actual working and living conditions or in terms of the subjective satisfaction of the concerned people. social services can expect to get a better deal. Alternatively.

The state. The Working Group for the Third Five Year Plan. it is noticed that education and health have received much greater emphasis than other social sectors like housing or social welfare. covered within its compass. women's welfare. subjects such as child welfare. A special body with an unorthodox status and a large measure of autonomy was set up in the form of the Central Social Welfare Board for promoting voluntary action in the welfare field. The fact that the voluntary agencies alone could lend the human touch so essential in welfare work has also been cited as an additional reason for the major role envisaged for them. Perhaps it would not be incorrect to infer that it was a combination of principle and expediency that shaped the policy of dependence on the voluntary effort in social welfare. Social Welfare Before the entry of the state in the welfare field. The idea was to provide a national perspective for welfare activities. took upon itself to help the voluntary organisations in maintaining and developing welfare services. it had been primarily the operational area of the voluntary organisations. welfare . which for the first time drew up a comprehensive framework for planning social welfare services. Partly in recognition of the pioneering role of voluntary organisations in social welfare. at the end of thirty years of planned development. The extreme paucity of resources available for welfare work in the earlier stages of economic development was also responsible for the reliance on voluntary organisations which could mobilise the resources directly at the community level. increasing difficulty in raising community resources to cope with greater demands for welfare agencies and the paucity of trained personnel were regarded as some of the major shortcomings of voluntary action in the years immediately after independence. to introduce an extensive system of grants-in-aid for improvement and development of services. there was no such clearly identified field as 'social welfare'. widely differing standards in the services. wherever such gaps were noticed. In fact. Isolated and sporadic action. the boundaries of social welfare field were slowly but perceptibly being demarcated with some precision. The Board's organisation consisted of composite bodies of officials and non-official social workers. As stated earlier. however. This is so because the bulk of the population cannot build for itself. when the Constitution framed its legislative lists for the Union and the States as also for concurrent jurisdiction. and to sponsor new programmes and 'services through non-official effort.As for the second point. The Central Social Welfare Board created a network of its own in the States and also at the district and block levels through which they administered both aided and sponsored programmes. the policy has been to encourage them to continue to shoulder a major responsibility for maintaining and developing welfare services. the private builders will not build for them because it is not profitable and the state cannot build enough because of the substantial and perpetual subsidies required for low-income housing. the housing position is perhaps worse than it was at the beginning. In terms of programmes.

As a country. extended and stabilised. The nature of programmes has also changed from curative to the positive and prorn-otive services. the content of programmes and the manner of their organisation have. In terms of finanical allocations. A schematic pattern of welfare services built from the community level upward has yet to be evolved. The priority for child welfare and development is being canvassed on the grounds of importance of building up young human resources of the country. emphasis has notionally been placed on child welfare. While certain encouraging trends in terms of positive. It is such a schematic pattern of minimum welfare services that will have to be the base of a pyramid supporting a graded structure of specialised services at the appropriate levels. But the number and variety of schemes that were formulated by the Central and State Governments and the voluntary organisations under these broad heads were so many that the limited resources were spread too wide and thin. Despite the celebration of August 15 as Independence Day and January 26 as Republic Day for past six decades. Training of welfare personnel has to be standardised in the context of clearly identified job positions at various levels of welfare agencies. a composite and complex job of manpower assessment on the one hand. religious. in operational terms efforts continue to be dissipated over a large and fragmented area. In fact. As regard social welfare services. a clear and rational policy has to be formulated. The categories of children. on the other hand. both from within and due to forces outside. The way India has evolved since departure of colonial British in 1947 is not at all inspiring. changed considerably since the inception of these programmes in the First Plan. welfare of slum dwellers and also training. has to be attempted in order to give effect to any rational welfare policy India – the biggest democracy in the world – is going through a lot of changes and turmoil. Preoccupation with handicapped children has been reduced in preference to the needs of otherwise normal but socio-economicaily deprived children. and economical as well as political.of the handicapped social defence. In terms of priorities. and standardisation and gradation of training. research and administration. youth welfare. greater outlays are also being set apart especially for nutrition but the organisational effort in the field is still not quite commensurate with the priority placed on it. it does not appear that India has really shaken off its colonial past. Contrary to the expectation that Indians would rule themselves with their own thinking it turned . it is unparalleled in its diversity – cultural. the Fourth Five Year Plan Working Group made only a slight modification in retaining the welfare of non-student youth in the welfare sector and included the aged and infirm along with the handicapped. promotive and integrated services have no doubt emerged. however. social. The administrative pattern needs to be rationalised and the partnership with voluntary organisations has to be made real.

Today. and an inadequate infrastructure are just a smattering of troubles that burden the Indian state. non-performance by and incompetence among bureaucrats.out that Nehru and his colleagues largely followed the demeanors of the White British and failed to look at larger issues faced by the newly free state. police abuse. . may be even harder! The "success" of India's democracy is a feat that must not be underemphasized. even within the most thriving of democratic societies problems exist. India has the largest number of poor in the world and is set to become the most populous country by around 2028 beating China. However. India confronts other issues. Doing business honestly in India is as tough as winning an Olympic medal. India is known for just three things: high population. high poverty. and high corruption. Corruption and bribery of politicians. In addition to the challenges mentioned above. this article by no means will attempt to say otherwise.

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