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State is an important legal institution as it is a source of all the powers and rights. According to Bosanque, - “the ‘state’ is a working conception of life as a whole.”

In Chisholms v Georgia[1], the Supreme Court of America held, “A state is a body, united together for the common benefit, to enjoy peacefully what is their own, and to do justice to other,”

According to Solmand, “A state is an association of human beings established for the attainment of certain ends by certain means.”

The relationship between state and law is inherent. A state maintains peace and administration in a society through law.

By the time the role of the state has been changed. Now the state is a social welfare state. A social welfare state means such a social system whereby then state assumes primary responsibility for the welfare of its citizens, as in matters of health care, education, employment, and social security.

Concept of government in which the state plays a key role in protecting and promoting the economic and social well- being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of equality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those who lack the minimal provisions for the good life. The term may be applied to a variety of forms of economic and social organization. A basic feature of the welfare state is social insurance, intended to provide benefit during periods of greatest need (e.g. old age, illness, unemployment). The welfare state also usually includes public provision of education, health services, and housing.[2]

Definition of Welfare State-

A Welfare state is a concept of government where then state plays a key role in the protection and promotion of the economic and social well- being of its citizens. It is based on the principles of quality of opportunity, equitable distribution of wealth, and public responsibility for those unable to avail themselves of the minimal provisions for a good life. Then general term may cover a variety of forms of economic and social organization.[3]

There are three main interpretation of the idea of a welfare state:[4]

1- The welfare state refers to the provision of welfare services by the state.

2- A welfare state is an ideal model where the state assumes primary responsibility for the welfare of its citizens. This responsibility is comprehensive, because all aspects of welfare are considered; a “safety net” is not enough. It is universal, because it covers every person as a matter of right.

3 - Welfare states may be identified with general systems of social welfare. In many “welfare states”, welfare is not actually provided by the state, but by a combination of independent, voluntary and government services.

According to Philosophical Theory “A system in which ultimate responsibility of government is well-being of all citizens.”       

According to Economic Theory, “A social system based on political responsibility for improvement in condition of all citizens.”

According to Business Dictionary, “Country in which government provides many services to its population, particularly in the areas of medical care, minimum income guarantees, and retirement pensions.”

According to Economics Dictionary “An economic system that combines feature of capitalism and by retaining private ownership while the government enacts broad programs of social welfare, such as pensions and public housing.”

The modern welfare state developed during the large 19th 20th centaury in response to Karl Marx’s theory of the inherent instability of capitalism in an attempt to protect the capitalist system from the socialist revaluation.

Welfare systems were developing intensively since the end of the World War II. At the end of century due to their restricting part of their responsibilities started to be channelled through non- governmental organizations which become important providers of social services.[5]

Before independence, state was a police state who’s main function was to collect revenue, maintain peace and to control administration. But, gradually, a drastic change has occurred in the form of state. After independence, Indian state is blossomed as a “social welfare state”. Due to which the functions of the state have highly increased.

Initially there was a rule of king which was replaced by the government later on. This government have three organs- Legislature, Executive and Judiciary. Being the representative of the state, the government started performing all the functions of all the state. However, the aforesaid three organs are detached from each other. So that anarchy and arbitrariness can not be developed.

At the time of independence, the constitution makers were highly influenced by the feeling of social equality and welfare of the people. They accepted that this sacrosanct (holy) work could only be done by state. For the same reason, they incorporated such provisions in the constitution of India which made the role of state important and went towards social welfare and ideal state.

Preamble, in general, is the form of Indian. The words, “Socialist”, “secular”, “democratic” and “republic” have been inserted in the preamble. Which reflects it’s from as a “social welfare state.” The expression “socialist” was intentionally introduced in the Preamble.[6]

In D. S. Nakara v. Union of India[7], the Supreme Court has held that the principal aim of a socialist state is to eliminate inequality in income, status and standards of life. The basic frame work of socialism is to provide a proper standard of life to the people, especially, security from cradle to grave. Amongst there, it envisaged economic equality and equitable distribution of income. This is a blend of Marxism & Gandhism, leaning heavily on Gandhian socialism. From a wholly feudal exploited slave society to a vibrant, throbbing socialist welfare society reveals a long march, but, during this journey, every state action, whenever taken, must be so directed and interpreted so as to take the society one step towards the goal.

In Excel Wear v Union of India[8], the supreme court held that the addition of the word ‘socialist’ might enable the courts to learn more in favour of nationalisation and state ownership of an industry. But, so long as private ownership of industries is recognised which governs an overwhelming large principles of socialism and social justice can not be pushed to such an extent so as to ignore completely, or to a very large extant, the interest of another section of the public, namely the private owners of the undertaking.

Similarly, the word ‘secularism’ is also adopted by 42nd Constitutional (Amendment) Act, 1976. The multifarious religious groups co-existed in India, but in spite of this, the constitution stands for secular state ‘secularism’ that there is no official religion but state protects all religions equally. Religion is irrelevant for the enjoyment of fundamental rights. Over and above, some fundamental rights have guaranteed freedom of worship and religion. In S.R. Bommai v. Union of India[9], the Supreme Court has held that ‘secularism’ is the basic feature of the Constitution. In Aruna Roy v. Union of India[10], the Supreme Court has held that ‘secularism’ has a positive meaning which is developing, understanding and respect towards different religion.

‘Democracy’ is a unique feature of the Constitution of India. It signifies the power of the people of India. The electorate choose representatives who run the government. It can be determined as ‘of the people for the people and by the people’; the government and the elected representative of the government are responsible for the people of India.

In a ‘republic’, the political sovereignty vests in the hands of people and the head of the state are only a person elected by the people for a fixed term.

In addition to these, our preamble has secures social, economical, political justice equality of status and opportunity to all including fraternity to all.

Except the preamble, there are so many other provisions in the Constitution which enable India as a “Social Welfare State”.

Firstly, it is essential to describe Fundamental Rights which are incorporated in the part IIIrd of the Constitution of India. These Fundamental Rights can be enforced directly by the Supreme Court by virtue of Article 32 and through High Courts under Article226. these Fundamental rights are essential for the better development of mental, character, economical and human dignity of every human being. These rights can not be derogated or denied by the state or government.

In Meneka Gandhi V. Union of India[11], the Supreme Court gave a new dimension to Article held that the right to ‘live’ is not merely confined to physical existence but it includes within it’s ambit the right to live with human dignity. In Subhas Kumar V. State of Bihar[12], the Supreme Court has held that PIL is maintainable for ensuring enjoyment of pollution free environment which is included in ‘the right to live’ under Article 21 of the constitution of India.

The part IVth of the Constitution of India (Article 36 to 51) is concerned with Directive Principles of the state policy. This part IVth is the foundation of social welfare system. However, these principles are neither enforceable nor binding on the state but are simply guidelines for the state, which the state has to consider at the time of policy making. Part IV is just like alight which shows a path to the state. These DPS are story supporter for making a state a social welfare state.

Earlier, it was believed that the state was mainly concerned with the maintenance of law& order and protection of life, liberty & property of its subjects, such a restrictive role of the state is no longer a valid concept in the modern context. We are living in an era of welfare state which requires it to promote the prosperity & well-being of the people. The Directive Principles lay down certain economic and social policies to be followed by the various governments in India. They impose certain obligation on the state to take positive action in order to promote welfare of the people and achieve economic democracy.[13]

The directive Principles is the ideals which the Union and state Government must keep in mind while formulating it’s policies. They lay down certain social, economical &political principal suitable in peculiar conditions prevailing in India. The idea of welfare state envisaged by our constitution can only be achieved if the states endeavour to implement them with high sense of moral duty.

The supreme court has held some Directive Principles as Fundamental Rights through judicial activism, e.g.- in Randhir Sing V. Union of India[14], the supreme court has held that principle of “equal pay for equal work” though not a fundamental right but it is certainly a constitutional goal, so it can be enforced (via Article 32). In H.M. Hoskot V state of Maharashtra[15] and Hussainara Khatoon V. Home Secretary, State of Bihar,[16] the Supreme Court has declared that “legal aid” & “speedy trial” are fundamental rights under Article 21 which are also provided in Directive Principles under Article 39-A. In Mohini Jain V. Stale of Karnataka[17] and Unni Kreshnan V. State of A.P.[18], all Supreme Court has held that ‘right to Education’ is a fundamental right under Article 21. This right to education has been recognised as a separate fundamental right by the Parliament under Article 21-A.[19]

By these cases, it is clear that the Judiciary is playing a pivotal role to promote Indian state as a social welfare state. In addition to these, Public Interest Litigations (PILs) have also played an important role in this field and have maintained social order.

This changed role of state is a positive indication. Now days, rights of people are increasing day by day resulting in the increase of duties of the state. The state is indulging in every aspect of human life. It is playing an active role in all fields like education, health, residence, security, clean environment. It is a holy duty of the state to take care of all men, women, children, old aged person, widows, deserted persons, helpless& patients. The state is trying to endeavour the life style of its citizens through various schemes and policies like-


Women Schemes-

v  Awareness Generation Projects for Rural and Poor Women

v  Condensed Course of Education for Adult Women

v  Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (DWCRA)

v  Distance Education for Women Development and Empowerment  

v  Education Work for Prevention of Atrocities on Women

v  Family Benefits Scheme

v  Family Counselling Centre

v  Kishori Shakti Yojana(KSY)

v  Maternity Benefits Scheme

v  NORAD Scheme

v  Rashtriya Mahila Kosh

v  Scheme for Working Women Hostals

v  Science and Technology for Women

v  Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP)

v  Swa Shakti Project

v  Swayamsidha Rehabilitation of Women with Disabilities

v  Vocational Training Programme

Child Scheme-

v  Aganwadi Scheme

v  Balika Samriddhi Yojana      

v  Development of Women and Children in Rural Areas (AWCRA)

v  Integrated Child Development Scheme(ICDS)

v  Juvenile Justice system

v  Mid Day Meal Scheme

v  National Creche Fund

v  Non- Formal Education Centers Exclusively for Girls

v  Reproductive and Child health Programme (RCH)

v  Shishu Greh Scheme

Labour and Employment Scheme-

v  Employment Assurance Scheme (EAS)

v  Food for Work Programme

v  Jawahar Rozgar Yojana

v  Labour Welfare Fund

v  Maternity Benefits Scheme

v  Million Wells Scheme

v  Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005    


v  Prime Minister’s Rozgar Yojana (PMRY)

v  Rural Employment Generation Programme(REGP)

v  Sampoorna Grameen Rozgar Yojana (SGRY)

v  Scheme for Working Women Hostels

v  Scheme for Rehabilitation of Bonded Labourers

v  Support to Training and Employment Programme for Women (STEP)

v  Swarnjayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana(SGSY)

v  Training of Rural Youth for Self- Employment (TRYSEM)   

Urban scheme-

v  Accelerated Urbon Water Programme

v  Mega City Scheme

v  Swarna Janyanti Shahari Rozgar Yojana

Social Scheme-

v  Annapurna Scheme

v  Freedom Fighters Pension Scheme

v  Growth Center Scheme

v  Liberation and Rehabilitation Scheme

v  Maternity Benefit Scheme

v  Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme

v  National Family Benefit Scheme

v  National Old Age Pension Scheme

v  Prohibition and Drug Abuse Prevention Scheme

v  Short Stay Homes

v  Social Defence Scheme


This modern state has been continuously trying to convert the state into a social welfare state which attributes to “Ram Rajya”.

Anurag Shyam Rastogi

[1] 2 Dallas 456

[3] Encyclopaedia Britannica

[5] Pawel Zaleski Global Non-governmental
Administrative system: Geosociology of the Third Sector, [in:] Gawin, Dariusz& Glinski, pioter[ed;]: “Civil Society in the Making”, IFIS Publishers, Warszawa2006     

[6] By the 42nd Constitutional (Amendment) Act, 1976.

[7] (1983)1 scc305

[8] AIR 1979 SC25

[9] (1994) SCC1

[10] AIR2003SC3176

[11] AIR 1978 SC597

[12] AIR1991 SC420

[13] Jain, M.P.: Constitutional Law of India (second Edition, 1970); Page 669.

[14] AIR 1982 SC879

[15] AIR1978 SC 1548

[16] AIR1979 SC1332

[17] (1992) 3SCC666

[18] (1993)1 SCC645

[19] inserted by 86th constitutional (Amendment) Act, 2002.


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