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Managing Social Welfare Schemes

  • Categories
    Governance: Doing the rights things in the right way
  • Published
    2nd Nov, 2022


  • State participation in social welfare has a long and continuous history extending over hundreds of years.
  • The right of an indigent to receive succour has been recognized in India dating back to the Vedic times.
  • It is based on the recognition on the part of the state or community that it has a duty to help its less fortunate members.
  • The dawn of independence in 1947 witnessed the beginning of an era of intensive development activity in the country. Political freedom is incomplete without freedom from economic and social wants.
  • These wants are many and diverse; some have always been with us; others are products of the modem age. Illiteracy, dirt, disease, squalor, superstition, ill health, and poor housing, all these have to be removed from - our midst as speedily as our resources and talents permit.

Social Welfare:

  • Social welfare is an organized system of social services and institutions, designed to aid individuals and groups to attain satisfying standards of life and health.
  • Social welfare, therefore, aims at providing services to weaker sections of the population who because of various handicaps such as physical, mental, economic, and social, are unable to make use of social services provided by society or have been traditionally deprived of these services.
  • Social welfare programs are, therefore, directed to ameliorate their conditions. Therefore, it requires proper administration.

Social Welfare Administration:

  • Social welfare administration is a process through which social policy is transformed into social services. It involves the administration of public and private agencies. It is a process that includes definite knowledge, understanding, principles, and ways of interaction.
  • Its main focus is on the suitability and accessibility of social services to the needy. Social work enables the process of administration through guidance, planning, stimulation, Organisation, creating structure, coordination, and research.
  • To fulfil the well-defined main objectives of administration, policies are suitably amended; programs are formulated and budget, finance, personnel, and selection procedures are made.

Constitutional Provisions-Welfare State:

India is a Welfare State, committed to ensuring the ‘Well-Being’ and ‘Quality of Life’ of its people in general and of vulnerable sections in particular.

  • The Preamble, Directive Principles of State Policy, and Fundamental Rights in the Constitution of India stand testimony to the commitment of the State to its people.
  • Entry 9 in the List II of Schedule 7: The subject of ‘Relief to the Disabled and Unemployable’ is the responsibility of the State Governments.
  • Article 14: The State shall not deny to any person equality before the law or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.
  • Article 15(A) (e) directs the State to renounce the practices derogatory to the dignity of women.
  • Article 16 provides for equality of opportunities in the matter of public appointments beings and forced labour.
  • Article 24 prohibits the employment of children below 14 years of age in any factory of mine or other hazardous occupations.
  • Article 41 states that the State shall, within the limits of its economic capacity and development make effective provision for securing the right to work, to education, and to public assistance in cases of unemployment, old age, sickness and disablement, and in other cases of undeserved want.
  • Article 45 provides for free and compulsory children up to the age of 14 years.
  • Article 46 lays down that the State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people.
  • Article 47 states about the duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health.

Social Welfare Through Five-Year Plans (1951-2017)

  • The First Five Year Plan (1951-56) recognized the importance of promoting social services for maintaining and consolidating the gains of economic development, attaining adequate living standards, and social justice.
  • In the Second and Third Plans (1956-61 and 1961-66) social welfare activities were extended to different sectors. States were involved in the sphere of statutory enactment and organization of basic services for education and rehabilitation of the disabled and the extension of welfare services for women and children in rural areas.
  • In the Fourth Plan (1966-71), all attempts were made to consolidate the initiatives taken in the previous plans.
  • The major thrust in the Fifth Plan (1974-79) was on the expansion of preventive and developmental programmes.
  • During the Sixth Plan, (1980-85) social welfare programmes received further momentum in the State Sector.
  • During the Seventh Plan (1985-90) and Annual Plans 1990-92, a significant expansion of programmes and services for the welfare of the Disabled took place.
  • Human Development is the main thrust of the Eighth Plan (1992-97) policies and programmes relating to survival, protection, and development of all sections of the population especially those of the Disabled and Disadvantaged were implemented.
  • In the Ninth Five Year Plan, (1997-2002) the approach to Social Welfare was distinct from earlier Plan approaches because it sought to adopt a threefold strategy specific to each individual group namely, i) Empowering the Persons with Disabilities; ii) Reforming the Social Deviants; and iii) Caring the Other Disadvantaged, through various preventive, curative, rehabilitative and developmental policies and program.
  • Tenth Five-Year Plan (2002-2007), There was significant growth during the last decade for the tenth five-year plan following objectives were identified.
  • Eleventh Five-Year Plan (2007-12), the target set for the eleventh five-year plan were as follows, create 70 million new work opportunities and reduce educated unemployment to below 5 percent, raise the real wage rate of unskilled workers by 20 percent, etc.
  • Twelfth Five-Year Plan (2012-17): The main objective of the twelfth five-year plan is “Faster, sustainable and more inclusive growth”. The plan aims towards the betterment of the infrastructure projects as well as improving the conditions of SC, ST, and OBC and minorities.

Features of Social Welfare Administration:

  • Although the concept of administration applies in a broader sense to areas including social welfare, business and government, there are certain distinctive features of social welfare administration. A summary of features highlighting the distinctiveness of social welfare administration is given below:
  • It is concerned with social agencies and helps them to achieve their objectives within the target community. It is specifically concerned with the identification of social objectives and formulation/ implementation of programmes.
  • Social welfare administration requires optimum utilization of its available resources together with active community participation so that the ultimate goal of programmes can be achieved properly.
  • Social welfare agencies generally function in a co-operative manner and ensure the participation of all the members in the administration of their activities.
  • There is a growing trend in these agencies to recruit professionally qualified manpower. It has helped in introducing a professional approach to their functioning.

History of Social Welfare Administration in India:

  • The desire to help one’s fellowmen has been in existence from time immemorial but the forms and methods of help have been varying from society to society, depending upon social, economic, and political factors.
  • Indian traditional view of social welfare is based on daya, dana, dakshina, bhiksha, samya-bhava, swadharma, and tyaga, the essence of which are self-discipline, self-sacrifice, and consideration for others.
  • From the administrative angle, in India, the reigns of king Ashoka, Harsha, Chandra Gupta Maurya, Akbar, Sher Shah Suri, and Feroze Tuglak, are the landmarks of the administration who took care of the social needs of the people.
  • The British Government also established an administrative set-up intended mainly for maintaining law and order. Some social reform measures were taken up by banning Sati and permitting widow remarriage by Acts passed in 1829 and 1856 respectively.
  • After independence, the old administrative pattern was more or less continued with necessary changes to suit the social, political, and economic set-up evolved. In the field of social welfare, during the First Five Year Plan, the government of India created a unique administrative machinery consisting of an autonomous board named CSWB (Central Social Welfare Board) in August 1953.
  • Similarly, Social Welfare Advisory Boards were established at the state level. The main purpose of the Board (CSWB) has been to provide financial and technical assistance to voluntary organizations working in the field of social welfare.
  • Before 1964 social welfare programmes were being managed by different ministries such as education, home, industries, health, labour, etc.
  • The Renuka Ray Committee in its report submitted in 1960, recommended the establishment of the Department of Social Security.
  • Under the Prime Ministership of Lal Bahadur Shastri, a Social Security Department was established and located in the Ministry of Law on 14th June 1964. Subjects, namely, social security, social welfare, backward classes, and khadi and handicrafts were allocated to the Department of Social Security.
  • In 1966, it was renamed as Social Welfare Department. It was located in the Ministry of Education and Social Welfare created in 1971. Its status was raised to a ministry in the year 1979.
  • Its name was further changed to the Ministry of Social and Women Welfare in 1984. With the creation of a separate Department of Women and Child Development in the Ministry of Human Resource Development, it was reorganized and its nomenclature was changed to the Ministry of Welfare in 1985 and subsequently, it was renamed as the Ministry of Social Justice, and Empowerment.
  • Thus, the Central government has set up a full-fledged ministry and organizations subordinate to it, like the National Commission for Scheduled Castes/ Tribes, Minorities Commission, National Institute of Social Defense, National Institute for the Handicapped, Department of Women and Child Development, Central Social Welfare Board, National Institute of Public Co-operation and Child Development, etc. under its administrative control.

Need And Importance of The Social Welfare Schemes

  • The basic objective of the social welfare scheme is to support and improve the standard of living of people living with HIV/AIDS, tribals living in geographically distant areas, people from disadvantaged castes, and the economically vulnerable category, who do not have a substantial source of income are mainly dependent upon these schemes to support their livelihoods and provide them with equal opportunities.

Thematic Area of Welfare Scheme:

  • Food Security Schemes: The availability and accessibility of food by each individual through Government sponsored schemes is termed as food security.
  • Health Scheme: Health is one of the important social sectors. The progress of a nation depends on the health of its people. Due to a lack of awareness, many times preventable diseases became serious. The ill health of the people is also a major cause of poverty in one way.
  • Education Schemes: It is known to all that the biggest impact of poverty besides lack of food, is lack of education. Worldwide almost a billion people are illiterate. In order to lead a qualitative life, education and especially primary education has to play a vital role as it is the foundation stone for a good future.
  • Livelihood Schemes: The living condition of the people mainly depends on their livelihood. The role of the Government is to protect promote and support the people and provide them access to livelihood.
  • Social Security Schemes: The need for social security schemes is high in a country like India mainly because there is a significant number of people living below the poverty line.
  • Natural Resource Management (NRM) Schemes: Natural resources are the primary source of life and livelihood. A major percentage of people are directly depending on these Resources for earning their livelihood. Natural resources are the primary source of life and livelihood. A major percentage of people are directly depending on these Resources for earning their livelihood.

Importance Of Cross-Cutting Themes: Cross-Cutting issues are those issues that are the same in every sphere of all the schemes starting from planning to execution. There are different forms of cross-cutting issues:

  • Gender: Gender inequity is a major issue everywhere. In the implementation of the schemes, this issue is clearly visible in the area of participation, leadership, direct benefits, access to resources, and in the decision-making process.
  • Discrimination: Discrimination may be social in terms of caste-based discrimination, it may be economic in terms of poor and rich and it may be regional in terms of western and coastal or southern. Discrimination as a cross-cutting issue can be found in all most all the schemes.
  • Exclusion: Exclusion is yet another cross-cutting issue in social welfare schemes. It may be owing to disability, Gender, vulnerability, or geographic location. For instance, disabled persons are often left out of welfare schemes because of their disability.

Convergence In the Social Welfare Schemes

  • Social Welfare Schemes are implemented by different Departments of the Government. Even some schemes are centrally funded and the state is only responsible for management. In this case, the need for Synergy/Convergence among various departments and stakeholders is highly needed.
  • The Coordination between different departments as well as other stakeholders shall definitely ensure the effective implementation of Social Welfare Schemes. In order to bring synergy in and between the programmes, there should be regular convergence meetings at the block as well as district levels.
  • Proper synergy and convergence not only avoid the duplication of work but also ensure quality work thereby benefitting the real beneficiaries.

Nature of Social Welfare Administration

  • There are conflicting views and opinions on the issue of Social Welfare Administration being an Art or Science. Social welfare lends itself to two usages. It stands for the process of administering social welfare programmes. It is also an area of intellectual inquiry. The first is practice, the second is study. As a practice social welfare administration is decidedly an art.

Social Welfare Administration as an Art

  • The following arguments have been given to support that social welfare administration is an art.
  • It can be acquired: No doubt art is a natural gift. Music, dance, drama, and painting are examples of this category of art. The art of social welfare administration can be acquired. Thus, so far as the acquisition is concerned social welfare administration is also like other arts.
  • It is subjective in nature: A social welfare administrator with the application of knowledge and skill can make wonders by combining and bringing together available human and material resources to change the very fate of the nation.
  • Practical application of knowledge: Art is the practical application of systematic knowledge. It is not merely theory but putting that into practice. Similarly, social welfare administration is not restricted to theory but it is a wide scope for application too. And the best knowledge can be gained by practice alone.

Social Welfare Administration as a Science

  • The following arguments have been put forward to justify that social welfare administration is a science:
  • Application of Scientific Method: The claim of a discipline to be called a science depends on whether the scientific method of study applies to it. Social welfare administration can be called a science, because the scientific method of study equally applies to it, as in the case of other social sciences.
  • Critical Examination: Critical examination and study of evidence are the prime requisites of any scientific study. This is possible in social welfare administration also.
  • Universal Guidelines: Universal principles of social welfare administration also provide the colouring of science. Even if we cannot use all the guidelines similarly, these guidelines certainly, help the administrator in the proper implementation of social welfare programmes.

Interdisciplinary Nature

  • Social welfare administration requires interdisciplinary knowledge and constant interaction with other social sciences to know the human being in totality, such as philosophy, psychology, sociology, political science, and economics to solve their problems in an appropriate manner.
  • Administrative Structure: Social welfare administrator needs to understand the organizational and administrative structure of the social welfare programme at each and every level of implementing the Organisation. Similarly, it is also important to know the role and set-up of nongovernmental organizations for effectively carrying out their functions.
  • Financial Administration: Since the scope of social welfare and social security is increasing day by day and more and more people are coming under the coverage of these programmes, the need for additional financial support increases. In order to make out proper and effective budgeting of such programme, the knowledge of financial administration is highly essential. Therefore, professionals engaged in social welfare administration must be trained in the techniques and principles of financial administration.
  • Human Resource Management: In order to provide effective social welfare services to the needy and suffering, it is essential to have committed, trained and motivated social welfare functionaries at different levels. Therefore, social welfare administration requires proper knowledge of human resource management which includes knowledge about recruitment policies, job classification, training and development, staff evaluation, advancement and transfer etc. for effective implementation of social services.
  • Public Relations and Participation: Social welfare administrators need to be cognizant of the importance of public relations with regard to both their own agency and its services, and the community as a whole. The welfare administrators must be conversant to utilize mass media, such as TV, radio, newspaper, brochures, books and personal contacts, to interpret their agencies’ programmes to the public and reach community members.


Inefficient implementation is the reason for the poor delivery of programmes. Many times, the implementing agencies’ commitments are not in sync with the government’s vision. At the same time, it is also true, when a time-bound target is given, the bureaucracy often rises to the occasion. An array of benefits-driven and delivered through the JAM (Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile) trinity is a case in point.

In modern times, all human activities are concerned with money. But in the case of social welfare, an effort has to be made to ensure that the service motto should prevail over monetary considerations. Just like any other profession we need experts to manage social welfare schemes too.  And to realise this requires attaining social sanction, professional commitment, governmental approval, a professional association to regulate the profession and the involvement of trained personnel in the field of welfare administration, instead of a mere bureaucratic approach.



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