Q17. “Development and welfare schemes for the vulnerable, by its nature, are discriminatory in approach.” Do you agree? Give reasons for your answer. (15m)
The Constitution of India aims to establish a welfare state primarily through Directive Principles of State Policy and the Preamble. These provisions enjoin upon the state the primary responsibility of welfare of all its citizens, in effect welfare schemes through positive discriminatory approach seeks to ensure Justice and Equality of status and of opportunity to all its citizens.
Though the government has panned out various welfare schemes for the upliftment of the vulnerable sections, they are found to be discriminatory in the following ways:
- Targeted Approach: The targeted approach that is fundamental to the welfare schemes can be seen as discriminatory in the sense that it treats different segments of the population differently.
- Stigmatisation: Some welfare programs can inadvertently stigmatise the recipients by singling them out as beneficiaries of aid, which eventually creates stereotypes or negative perceptions.
- Skewed Resource Allocation: Welfare programs that are resource-intensive require fund diversion from critical public services like education and infrastructure, leading to sectoral disparities.
- Unintended Consequences: Discrimination can also arise from the unintended consequences of these schemes. E.g. a scheme designed to benefit women may inadvertently reinforce traditional gender roles and discrimination against men.
- Exclusion Errors: Targeted schemes can sometimes result in exclusion errors, where deserving individuals or communities are left out due to bureaucratic inefficiencies.
Development and Welfare schemes are designed and implemented to promote positive discrimination-
- Equality vs. Equity: Welfare and development programs are often designed to promote equity rather than equality.
- While equality implies treating everyone the same, equity recognizes that different individuals or groups may need different levels of support to achieve the same outcomes.
- Social Justice: Development and welfare schemes are often designed to address historical and structural inequalities.
- Inclusive growth: Welfare schemes promote inclusive growth by providing a safety net that reduces inequality and poverty, enabling marginalised populations to participate more fully in the economy.
- Narrows the Economic stratification: Welfare Schemes alters the quality of life of the vulnerable sections which in turn lead to reduced resentment and friction in the society. This would instill a sense of oneness resulting in nation building and in turn economic growth.
Whether development and welfare schemes are discriminatory in approach or not depends on how they are structured and implemented. While some may involve targeted approaches that may seem discriminatory on the surface, they are often intended to correct historical injustices and promote social equity. Therefore, the key is to strike a balance between addressing the specific needs of vulnerable populations and ensuring that no group faces unjust discrimination in the process.
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