DailyPost 1662

The best way to describe the Indian state is a welfare state. Welfare in normal parlance means that the government takes care of the poor and the needy. The constitution, the laws and the government machinery is at the backend. The poor and needy by the acts, attitude and response of the govt should feel that they are under the benevolent umbrella of Indian governance as much as the wealthiest person in this country. The litmus test of the real existence of the welfare state is if large part of the population are aware of the fact that they live in such a state. Over the years have they got a feeling that the governments in the country post-independence have been working for their welfare?

A basic social security cover at least sufficient enough to take care of the citizen to live with dignity from the womb to the tomb can be a workable definition. Can all the programs and projects of the different tiers of the government combined are  capable enough to deliver the barest minimum defined? It would be an out of the world calculation if somebody can provide the per unit expenditure on a citizen, below a given income bar,  from all sources of the government. It would also be a clueless exercise for a person to find out what is there on the offer for him by the governments. The figures of expenditure and coverage  are flaunted election after election by all political parties. People have no clue of it.

In the cacophony of the political noise, all other words of common sense to wisdom are completely lost. From the parliament to the village panchayat and every single gathering it is only their wisdom that is on full display. The prime indicator to go by in a welfare state can only be the Human Development Indices. The funding, consultants, experts and the government servants keep changing, but our dismal performance seems to be there to stay. Do we have expert practitioners in welfare administration or our regular government machinery is made to deliver welfare to the common masses? Expertise coupled with conviction can only deliver. Does our political executive have a permanent stake in welfare?

There have been times the courts have been forced to interfere to push the welfare state agenda. To become a welfare state in the true sense, what is wherewithal we have acquired to make it happen? Doles and welfare has become synonymous and the political class finds it extremely convenient to conduct this exercise in which they have gained huge mastery, a pandemic that has afflicted every party at every level. This has delivered them power and has been consistently delivering it, then why go in for any other model. The famed health infrastructure is in shambles in most of the cities. What all plagued us in the COVID-19 wave is turning out to be more critical this time over. Making people stand on their own feet is the pious duty of any welfare state. Unfortunately, the poor and the needy are falling on their  faces.


Sanjay Sahay

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