Tuesday 12 April 2016

An Introspection of India's Social Security

In India the modern social security measures were planned and implemented after independence. They were too meagre and limited to the organised sector workers only, which constituted about 8 per cent of total workforce, despite a majority of the workforce comes in the unorganised sector. Importantly, the need to ensure social security for all, especially those in the unorganised sector, is an overarching concern recognised in the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-12). The constitution of India provides strength and spirit to the social security for organised and unorganised workers through its Directive Principles of the State Policy.

Social security legislations came into existence as a part of industrial policy after large scale industrialisation. Some social security benefits in the form of Acts for the organised workers working in the big industrial units were also enacted during the British period. But major social legislations were passed only after Independence. Thus, while a large proportion of the organised sector workers have been be benefiting from legally mandated and budget provided social security benefits since independence, but most of the workers in the unorganised sector have been left out.

According to the World Labour Report 2000, the public sector expenditure on social security in India was as meagre as 1.8 per cent of the GDP, whereas it was 4.7 per cent in Sri Lanka and 3.6 per cent in China. The eligibility criterion is also too tight as they exclude many a vulnerable persons. The below poverty line (BPL) criterion is a minimalist and inappropriate approach to extend social security to the unorganised workers. About 55% of the population does not come in the category of the poor in India but is highly vulnerable. Not only this, most of the unorganised workers suffer from the lack of awareness about social security and social welfare measures. It has been argued that globalization has adversely affected social welfare programmes of the state. The state often promotes rather than accepts globalization. This is why it is bound to impact on the policy regime and welfare character of the state.

Social welfare and social security are deeply linked but they are pursuing different ends. Social security refers to a state of mind as well as an objective fact. It is mainly directed towards providing income security as a preliminary to a state of social and psychological well-being. Social welfare, on the other hand, is broadly understood as ‘the end product of possession of goods, positions in life and supply of services to help him to live in wholesome contentment and communication with others in the group’.

Narrowly speaking, social welfare refers to a set of institutional or personal services provided either by the state or voluntary organizations to prevent the incidence or to reform or rehabilitate the victims of disabilities, or disorganization or delinquencies or destitution and so on.

Aparajeeta Sen
( PG MEDIA 2015-2017)

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