The social welfare services of the Government of India are intended to cater to the special needs of persons and groups who, because of some handicap, or social, economic and physical reasons are unable to avail themselves of the amenities and services provided by the community. These weaker sections include women, children, handicapped, aged and infirm, SC and STs etc.
Social welfare activities in the country find their inspiration in Constitution which postulates the goal of welfare state. Article 38 of the Constitution says that the steps of government shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting their interests. Welfare schemes or social empowerment programmes are not the invention of modern age; they were also there in ancient, medieval and the pre-modern age. This reveals the fact that empowerment of the poor, marginalized is ingrained in our culture, which has been inherited by the modern age to ensure that rule of law, equality and harmony should prevail in the society.
India adopted a mixed economy, where state took initiative to develop the masses. This initiative included establishment of Planning Commission which was nodal agency for flagship programming. Various programmes and schemes of government can be categorised as (i) Rural Development Schemes, (i) Child Welfare Schemes, (iii) Women Empowerment Schemes, (iv) Employment Schemes etc.
Indian Government’s intention to provide assistance to poor and their upliftment is clear, but at the implementation part government fails. The reason of inefficiency can be attributed to improper monitoring, lack of accountability, corruption and misalignment of incentives. For example, Integrated Child Development Scheme failed in Bihar, MGNREGA in Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Odisha, Mid Day Meal in Madhya Pradesh. According to CAG Report 2013, the scheme MGNREGA has failed in Bihar and Karnataka due to misappropriation and subversion of funds. Making a policy and implementing it as a scheme are two totally different aspects; if either of them is not done efficiently, the policy will be a total failure.
For instance, agriculture provides employment to our 55% population and has been a constant focus of every government formed at the Centre, but it still lags behind Chinese agricultural production. There are more than hundred schemes if we include both Centre and state sponsored programmes but despite having so many farmer-centered schemes, the agriculture is the last option anyone will choose for employment. As a recent example, when Gujarat Government launched a scheme called Mukhyamantri Yuva Swavlamban Yojana to help 10th pass students to get monetary assistance for enrolment in higher studies, students and parents found it difficult to apply for the scheme on government website, mistakenly they started to send necessary documents on the indianiris.com (a dedicated website for all the government policies and schemes). It shows lack of awareness on government part to reach out to people on a certain platform. There should have been proper mechanism for every kind of people from different strata to reach to the government.
Indian Government has shown tremendous success when the goal is collectively shared. It has been successful in many things – like India’s elections, which is sometimes termed as “an undocumented wonder”. Largely error free collective action with much less political interference and coordinated administration makes this grand democratic event a success. India had also adequately dealt with natural catastrophes in the past. The government can also be praised for the efforts to eradicate several diseases such as polio, malaria and HIV when the target was well publicised and clear.
So the question now is that if Indian Government can be successful in these things then why it fails in implementing schemes. Almost 72% of the rural households in a survey held in 2011 for 7 states were not aware about India’s largest flagship programme MGNREGS. It clearly shows that the government fails in creating an aware atmosphere where people know what the government is doing for them.
There are a number of schemes launched by government focused on a range of public services. Among them, 10 big flagship programmes like MGNREGS, Make in India, Digital India ,Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan etc. account for 90% of the resources, leaving other small programmes to only increase administrative burden. It significantly affects the implementation of even bigger schemes. Government should prioritise schemes and should go according to the administrative capacity of implementation. Secondly, the policies are made in ministries but implemented at state, district and village level and the administrator may not know about every scheme implemented in his/her district and also sometimes the schemes are not made in accordance with that area, thus increasing administrative difficulties. Therefore, proper surveys should be done before formulating a scheme. There is also a need of better coordination among Centre and State Governments.
Government alone cannot do everything; the whole community like private entities, societies, and NGOS etc. has to help government in order to improve the transparency, quality and effectiveness of a policy or scheme.