Special Articles / Ashok Antony D'Souza / Social Development through Social Work
In this chapter, we shall attempt to understand how India has tried to achieve Social Development by trying to formulate and implement social policies and planning directed towards some thrust areas such as land reforms, education, health and nutrition, employment, social protection, population and family welfare, and environment and ecology.
Social Development through Land Reforms
Land is evidently the most critical cause of poverty and violence in contemporary India (Council for Social Development, 2010). Under the Indian Constitution, land reforms are placed under the purview of the state governments. This means that there have been very wide variations in their incidence, extent and effectiveness. It would be fair to say that, by and large, the record in this regard is not all that impressive, and certainly there has been no substantial transformation of landholding patterns and agrarian relations across the country through government action, in the same way as occurred in some countries of East Asia such as Japan, South Korea and Taiwan China (Bandyopadhyay, 1986). However, over time, there have been changes across the country, and particularly in certain states, which have changed the agrarian landscape to some extent.
Thus, in the 1950s the worst forms of absentee landlordism were done away with, most dramatically in the Zamindari Abolition Act of 1952 in Uttar Pradesh, but by and large the monopoly of land remained intact in most of rural India. There have been two significant experiences of more substantive land reform: in the state of Kerala in the 1950s and 1960s, and in the state of West Bengal in the 1980s. It is worth noting that in both cases, the attempts at changing land relations were initiated by left oriented governments who had come to power on just such an explicit programme. In Kerala, the focus was dominantly on land redistribution and improving the conditions of agricultural labourers. In West Bengal, the main focus was on stabilising the conditions of tenants by formalising and registering their contracts, to reduce eviction and other forms of harassment, and specifying limits on the rent shares that could be extracted. In both states, the process of land reform was accompanied or followed by other social measures. In both cases there were also some initial improvements in agricultural productivity: thus West Bengal experienced the highest rate of growth of agriculture of all state of India over the 1980s, and the ‘agrarian impasse’ of the state was seen to have been overcome (Lieten, 1992).
Jayati Gosh (2002) argues that the absence of any radical land redistribution over most the country meant that the domestic market, especially for manufactured goods, remained socially narrowly based. It also meant that the growth of agricultural output in the aggregate, though far greater than in the colonial period, remained well below potential. Such growth as did occur was largely confined to a relatively narrow stratum of landlords-turned-capitalists and sections of rich peasants who had improved their economic status. And the large mass of peasantry, faced with insecure conditions of tenure and often obtaining a small share in the outputs they produced, had neither the means nor the incentive to invest.
For the past few decades, land reforms and other interventions for institutional change have been almost forgotten in the Indian policy debate. Even the Plan documents, which earlier at least paid lip service to the idea of land reform, have recently abandoned even the pretence of concern over such reform. Indeed, insofar as such changes are talked of at all, they are usually along the lines of furthering the corporatisation of agriculture, increasing plantation-type organisational structures, and so on. However, land reforms remain crucial to sustainable expansion of agricultural growth and productivity in the various regions of India, and are precisely the types of social policy that would play significant roles in terms furthering the development project. These need not necessarily be land reforms in the classic sense of land redistribution, but can encompass a range of measures which would vary according to the specific requirements of different regions and states (Gosh, 2002).
In many parts of India at present, not only does smallholder agriculture dominate in both ownership and occupancy of land, but tenurial patterns are still such as to deny security of tenure or viability of holdings. Similarly, credit and marketing arrangements are often monopolistic or monopsonistic in character, and are skewed against the interests of small and marginal cultivators. Fragmentation of holdings, even very small ones, makes cultivation more difficult, less viable, and discourages certain types of investment such as in sustainable irrigation practices. In some areas, control over water has become possibly even more important than control over land, and this also remains highly unequal. Therefore, new patterns of institutional change must be thought of which will incorporate these changing conditions and different regional contexts. The notion of ‘land reform’, far from being forgotten, must therefore be widened and expanded to cover a range of measure for institutional change in agriculture, which will maker for viable smallholder cultivation (Gosh, 2002).
Social Development through Education
Education was thought to be the engine for social transformation. Hence, any country which wanted speedy and sure Social Development was expected to provide quality education to all its citizens as a top priority. In India too certain policy and planning efforts have been made to provide decent educational opportunities at all levels of education.
According to the Constitution of India, elementary education is a fundamental right of children in the age group of 6-14 years. India has about 688,000 primary schools and 110,000 secondary schools. According to statistics two third of school going age children of India are enrolled in schools but the figures are deceptive as many don’t attend schools regularly. At least half of all students from rural area drop out before completing school. The government has rolled out many plans to increase the percentage of elementary education. The plans such as ‘Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA), District Primary Education Program (DPEP), Operation Blackboard, Mid Day Meal have been successful to great extent.
Sarva Siksha Abhiyan (SSA)
The main goal of this program is that all children of 6-11 years of age should complete primary education by the year 2007 and all children of 6-14 years of age should complete eight years of schooling by 2010. This plan covers the whole country with special emphasis on girl education and education of Schedule Caste (SC) and Schedule Tribe (ST) children and children with special needs. The SSA centers are mainly opened in those areas, which do not have any school or where schools are very far off. Special girl oriented programs include:
District Primary Education Programme
This program was launched in 1994 with the objective of universalization of primary education. Its main features are Universal Access, Universal Retention and Universal Achievement. It aims that the primary education should be accessible to each and every child of school going age, once a child is enrolled in school he/ she should be retained there. The final step is achievement of the goal of education. The main components of this program are:
It was started in 1987-88. The aim of this program is to improve human and physical resource availability in primary schools of India. According to this program every primary school should have at least two rooms, two teachers and essential teaching aids like blackboard, chalk, duster etc.
National Bal Bhavan
The National Bal Bhavan was opened with the aim of developing overall personalities of children of all strata of society irrespective of their caste, creed, religion and gender. It supplements school education by helping children to learn in play way and natural environment.
Other important endeavors taken up by Indian government for the development of education in India includes:
The enrollment at secondary school throughout the country was close to 28 million in 1998-99. Efforts are being made to increase this figure through the implementation of proposed new educational strategies.
This massive system of higher education in India constitutes of 342 universities (211 State, 18 Central, 95 deemed universities) 13 institutes of national importance, 17,000 colleges and 887 polytechnics. University Grant Commission (UGC), a national body, coordinates and looks after the maintenance of standard of university education in India. The university education in India starts with undergraduate courses. Depending upon the nature of course pursued its duration may vary from three to five and a half years.
Impact of the Programmes
In 2011, literacy in India has gone from a paltry 12 per cent at the time of Independence to 74.04 per cent. It took more than half a century for India to drag the literacy rate to this number. Even then, there is a staggering gender and regional disparity in literacy levels, where only 65.46 per cent of women, but 82.14 per cent of men are literate. Whilst Tripura has 93.91 per cent literacy, Bihar is stuck at an abysmal 63.8 per cent. This number is even lower for women in Bihar.
Mismanagement of government schemes, socially regressive attitudes, economic backwardness that encourages child labour over education are primary reasons for the slow growth in literacy.
Accessible low-cost education, then, becomes an important tool for children in slums, villages and remote areas of the country. It’s not enough to be simply be literate, though. Enrolment rates in the country for pre-primary are 58 per cent, primary are 93 per cent, secondary are 69 per cent, and tertiary are 25 per cent. The numbers may seem impressive, but the Indian education system is fraught with severe problems. Teacher absenteeism, lower girls’ education, poor infrastructure and sub-par quality of schools show a different picture. For instance, when non-profit ASER conducted a survey of 16,000 villages, the enrolment was found to be a high 96 per cent. However, 50 per cent of those aged 10 could not read at the level of a 6-year-old, and more than 60 per cent of these students were incapable of simple division.
India has a low quality of primary and secondary education. Only a small slice of the population benefits from quality private institutions in major cities. It is unfortunate that the perception of Indian education is based on the the country’s middle-to-upper class crème de la crème in education centres like Bengaluru, Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai and Kolkata. Theaverage student in India comes from rural areas, not urban schools. This is why in the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA 2009+), where 15-year-old students from across the globe are tested to gauge the quality of education being provided to them, Indian students were miserable at reading , mathematics and science. Their best competition was Kyrgyzstan. It shattered the baseless preconception that Indian students were generally mathematically superior to their counterparts in the OECD nations.
Under these circumstances, it’s monumentally important for low-cost education startups and organisations to assist the government in improving education to make these enrolment statistics actually meaningful.
Although India has witnessed remarkable improvement in the adult literacy rate during the last two decades, it still accounts for around 30 per cent of the world’s illiterate population, and 70 per cent of these people are women. There is an urgent need for special policy attention on gender disparities, by evolving long-term goals with a special focus on the backward areas and social groups.
Although the Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) has increased consistently since 2005, the data from the NSSO 61st Round pointed to a persisting social gap in school participation along with the gender gap. This implies that a large number of children still do not have the privilege of benefiting from school education, and they do not constitute a monolithic group. Hence there is a need for differential strategies to deal with such exclusion, including opening more schools with adequate infrastructure in specific areas, and upgrading schools with lower primary classes to complete elementary schooling, which would necessitate a more systematic school mapping exercise for increasing access to education. Further, during the course of deciding the location of facilities, equity issues should also be considered in order to help the children overcome both distance and social barriers.
The slow improvements in literacy and education for both men and women remain major failures of the Indian development process. Article 45 of the Directive Principles of State Policy of the Indian Constitution, formulated in 1949, declared that “The State shall endeavour to provide, within a period of ten years from the commencement of this Constitution, for free and compulsory education for all children until the age of fourteen years.” Despite this, India still contains the largest number of illiterate people in the world, and also the largest number of illiterate women. The progress of improvement in literacy has been very slow, literacy among females remains substantially below that for males, and even at the present time, nearly half the female population of the country remains illiterate. Furthermore, female literacy rates are much lower (usually between 50 and 70 per cent) among Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes, as well as among certain minority groups.
This reflects that fact that education has unfortunately not been a priority of government policy, or a major instrument of social policy, in India over the past decades (The Probe Team, 1999). Public spending on education, at around 3 per cent of GDP, has been half of the international norm of 6 per cent, and many multiples less than the ratio in some of the East and Southeast Asian countries. The consequent denial of education to all citizens is not only a failure in terms of human rights, but also a failure in terms of future possibilities for development, as is well recognised.
Over the 1990s, the Total Literacy Campaigns and various Adult Literacy Missions attempted to rectify the gap in terms of adult literacy, with varying degrees of success in different states. The attempt was to establish district-level literacy committees with active people’s participation, with follow-up schemes for providing access to reading material relevant for newly literates. There is no doubt that this has led to some improvement in the rate of increase of literacy in the past decade, but there are still very significant state-wise variations. This is once again because education remains dominantly a state government subject. Certain states such as Kerala, with a longer history of literacy and education movements as well as a different level of political awareness of the need for such emphasis, have performed much better in this respect and have literacy levels approaching those of developed countries despite the much lower per capita income.
School enrolment ratios showed a significant increase across India from the mid 1980s onwards, although there is a substantial amount of evidence from micro studies and other surveys that these are typically overestimates. However, even the NSS shows a substantial increase in .participation in education for the age-group 6-11 years and 11-14 years in 1999-2000 compared to the earlier large surveys of 1987-88 and 1993-94, and the increases were greater for girls and than for boys over this period. However, even with these data there is need for caution in interpretation. While the usual status. category indicates substantial increase in education for these age groups, the daily status and weekly status categories show much lower participation in education, especially among girls. This suggests that even when children, especially girls, are formally registered in schools and therefore feel that is their usual activity, they may not be attending regularly for a variety of reasons. Similarly, dropout rates remain high, and tend to be much higher for girls than for boys.
A number of schemes for increasing access to primary education have been introduced by both Central and State Governments in India over the 1990s. Most of these schemes have been foreign aid driven, in that the major source of funding for such programmes has come from foreign bilateral and multilateral donors. These include the District Primary Education Project (DPEP) which is spread across most states, the Shiksha Karmi and Lok Jumbish projects in Rajasthan, the CEC in West Bengal, schemes in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. Many of these schemes include in their primary aims, the reduction of gender disparity in access to schooling, and have introduced certain changes in the education system accordingly. The only danger is that, in a context of reduced public spending on education as a whole, such schemes may involve a diversion of overall resources from the public education system to NGO led schemes, which may be detrimental to the basic cause of ensuring equal access to education for all.
Prof. Govinda and Bandhopadhyay (Institute for Human Development, 2010) argue that there is a need for focusing special attention on the issues of dropouts, repetition of classes and absenteeism of children, particularly in the rural and backward areas across the country. They opine that policy-makers should shift their attention from enrolment to improving the functioning of schools and enhancing their outcomes. They further argue that there has to be a convergence of educational initiatives like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan with other development initiatives like the MGNREGS and ICDS.
India’s education policy focuses on literacy and elementary education and schemes such as the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) and passage of the Right to Education Act (RTE) have been attempting to improve access and quality of primary education in India. This rights-based approach signals a major change in perspective, as it benchmarks the concept of a ‘school’ and also shifts the onus of provision of education from the parents to the State. The government has also been successful in the generation of financial resources for education through a special levy on taxes and mobilization of resources from external agencies.
However, as predicted by the EFA (Education for All) Global Monitoring Report, India has missed some of the 2015 EFA targets. If adult literacy figures are taken as the most basic indicator of educational progress, India still accounts for 30 per cent of the world’s population that has no access to literacy, with 70 per cent of them being women. Although India’s policy efforts on increasing enrolment rates have been successful to an extent, a number of related concerns still exist, such as high dropout rates, the gap in the enrolment ratio of girls and boys, and the overall quality of education.
The dropout ratio among schoolchildren reflects an inequality between social groups as well a strong gender bias against girls. In India, girls and women within the age group of 15 to 24 years are twice as likely to be illiterate as men in that group. This gender bias is evident while comparing the situation in India to neighbouring Bangladesh, wherein the illiteracy rates for women are higher in the age group of 25 to 34 years than for men. However, this gap in the male–female ratio has been eliminated in the age group of 15 to 24 years.
As the dropout rate is also linked with the nutritional status of the children and their mothers, the mother’s education level, as well as the prevalence of child labour, the National Literacy Mission has been reoriented to focus mainly on female literacy through the launch of the Sakshar Bharat campaign.
While concerted efforts need to be made to improve infrastructure and access to schools, the links between teacher absenteeism, dropouts and learning at the elementary level also need to be explored. There is thus a dire need for promoting quality research for pathways in order to improve the quality of education.
Institute for Human Development (2010) has made the following recommendations for improving the educational policy and planning in India:
Social Development through Health and Nutrition
Health in India is a state government responsibility with the national health policy laying down the necessary health policy in India. The central council of health and welfare formulates the various health care projects and health department reform policies. The administration of health industry in India as well as the technical needs of the health sector are the responsibility of the ministry of health and welfare India.
Health care in India has many forms. These are the ayurvedic medicine practice, Unani or Galenic Herbal Care, Homeopathy, Allopathy, Yoga, and many more. Each different healthcare form has its own treatment system and practice patterns. The medical practicing in India needs a proper licensing from the health ministry.
Health Department in India: The health ministry in India takes care of the health department. The main responsibility of the health ministry India is to provide hygienic health care solutions for all, supervision of the basic health infrastructure development in India by construction of hospitals, nursing homes and dispensaries as per the needs of the area.
Health Care Services in India: The health care services in India are mainly the responsibility of the health ministry and also the private companies in the health industry in India collectively. Provision for adequate medical facilities for all including enough hospitals and other healthcare institutions to cater to the healthcare needs of the people, medicines and drugs supply, medical equipments and other medical products and services required in the health department.
Hospitals or Healthcare Institutions in India: The ministry of health and family welfare India has set up many state run hospitals that provide subsidized medical facilities to all. Besides these health ministry run health institutions, many private companies have also set up big hospitals and specialty clinics that provide health care services. The specialty healthcare institutions include heart institutes, cancer hospitals, nursing homes, and many others. Today, the health industry in India is a flouring one with many foreign health care companies extending their health services in India and providing quality healthcare services to people in India.
Health in India is a state government responsibility with the national health policy laying down the necessary health policy in India. The central council of health and welfare formulates the various health care projects and health department reform policies. The administration of health industry in India as well as the technical needs of the health sector are the responsibility of the ministry of health and welfare India.
Forms of Health Care: Health care in India has many forms. These are the ayurvedic medicine practice, Unani or Galenic Herbal Care, Homeopathy, Allopathy, Yoga, and many more. Each different healthcare form has its own treatment system and practice patterns. The medical practicing in India needs a proper licensing from the health ministry.
Impact of the Programmes
Indian healthcare is painfully insufficient in delivering quality and timely care to its people. With only 7.0 physicians and 17.1 midwives/nurses for every 10,000 patients, there simply aren’t enough health professionals in a nation with increasing population and decreasing environmental health. Compare this with Cuba: There are 185 patients per doctor, the lowest patient per doctor ratio in the world for a country that has spent a large part of a century embargoed.
The availability of good physicians and trained nurses for rural India is even lower, bringing the quality of their collective health down. Common problems are left untreated for long until they become too expensive to bother with. Preventative healthcare is all but absent, where something as basic as accessibility is a task.
Young girls and women take a hard hit. There is an institutional disregard for the health and hygiene problems of the girl sex. Dasra, a philanthropic organisation, in its studies found that 88 per cent of menstruating women in India use unsanitary materials like old rags, sand or ash to absorb blood. This results in a 70 per cent prevalence of urinary tract infections in young girls. With the unavailability of doctors in rural areas, the health situation of these girls is aggravated further.
More than 20 per cent of the children in the country are not immunised for measles. The under-5 mortality statistics show that for 1000 live births there are 56 fatalities, and 190 maternal fatalities for 100,000 live births. Half the nation does not have access to antenatal care and roughly a third of the child population is not monitored by skilled health professionals. This is why India is home to the largest number of malnourished children.
These health and hygiene issues leave women mere observers of socio-economic progress, as they’re in a state of arrested development and extreme economic dependence.
There have been low levels of public expenditure on health in India. This has resulted in the large presence of the private sector in healthcare. This has resulted in making the health policies take up the challenge of finding the ways and means by which nongovernmental healthcare providers can be enlisted to meet public health challenges. There is a need for community workers who link households to health facilities, like the ASHA under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). NRHM is also attempting a paradigm shift in the health sector by creating a functional system at all levels.
There is a huge differences in health indicators across the states, and hence the various factors in improving health indicators including food and livelihood security, female literacy, gender relations, income levels, and the hierarchies of social relations are very critical while formulating health policies and planning in India. There is a need for deeper understanding of exclusion and income issues in the health sector. The urban–rural divide in terms of access to health services is very stark and it has been difficult to retain human resources for health in rural areas. Even in urban areas, the quality of health services for poor households is very unsatisfactory. Further, as India also has a large private sector in healthcare health insurance instruments have to be designed carefully to see to it the poor are able to afford quality healthcare.
Mr. Sinha (Institute for Human Development, 2010) opines that the nutrition indicators in India are worse than those of sub-Saharan Africa, and there is a near absence of regulation to meet the public health challenges. In his opinion, India needs a comprehensive public health law that clearly mandates standards of service delivery and quality of care.
India, along with Bangladesh, has the worst levels of malnutrition in the world. This is despite the economic growth that the country has seen. Indian governments have adopted various measures taken to address this challenge of malnutrition. In the 1970s, chronic malnutrition was recognized to be related to hunger and poverty, and this led to food supplementation programmes – notably the ICDS, Special Nutrition Programme, Mid-day Meal programme (MDM) in schools, as also a public distribution system for food grains. In the 1990s, food supplementation programmes went out of favour as they were perceived to be cost-ineffective and instead focused on micronutrients and counselling for child malnutrition.
During the early part of the last decade, the emphasis reverted to food supplements and better delivery of services. Dr. Sundararaman ((Institute for Human Development, 2010) argues that this change was led and sustained by civil society action along with the Supreme Court rulings. In the recent past there has been decline in food consumption in India as there has been an unprecedented increase in the cost of meeting non-food requirements.
Institute for Human Development (2010) has made the following recommendations for improving the health related policy and planning in India:
Social Development through Employment
The inability to generate good employment opportunities for the poor has been the most obvious symptom of the failure of the Indian economic development process over the decades (Bhalla, 1991 & Jha, 1997), along with the persistence of widespread absolute poverty and the slow rate of improvement in human development indicators. This is not just a problem of welfare, since it represents a huge waste of human resources that are crucial to building the economy, and suggests that Indian growth could have been both faster and more equitable if only the enormous labour reserves had been productively utilized.
One of the major disappointments of the neoliberal adjustment strategy in India in the 1990s was the inadequate generation of employment. In this period, the rate of employment generation was below both the rate of growth of output and the increase in the labour force. It has emerged as perhaps the most significant problem, leading directly and indirectly to a host of other social tensions.
In the rural areas, aggregate employment grew at around 0.6 per cent per annum over the decade, at around one third the rate of growth of labour force in the same period. There was an increase in agricultural self-employment, reflecting the shift away from non-agriculture, and is also, in large part, caused by a distress induced increase in female unpaid family work. Regular employment declined and casualisation of wage employment continued to increase. All this manifested the effects of the overall neoliberal economic strategy, which affected rural employment in the following ways: actual declines in government spending on infrastructure (as a share of GDP) and on rural development (in absolute terms) in the central budgets; reduced central government transfers to state governments which have thereby been forced to cut back on their own spending; diminished real expenditure on rural employment and anti-poverty schemes; declines in public infrastructural and energy investments which affect the rural areas; reduced spread and rise in prices of the public distribution system for food; cuts in social expenditure such as on education, health and sanitation; financial liberalization measures which have effectively reduced the availability of credit to priority sectors including agriculture and small scale industries.
Even in the urban areas, the rate of employment generation in the 1990s slowed down very dramatically at only 1.52 per cent, less than half the growth rate of previous periods. Total organised sector employment increased by less than 1 per cent per annum. The trend was towards an increase in casual employment and a trend decline in regular employment for both men and women. For men, the increase in casual employment was largely at the cost of regular employment. For women, on the other hand, both casual and regular work appear to have increased after the reforms in the urban areas, but casual contracts have dominated. This is part of a wider process of feminisation of work observed in all developing countries, which has also been associated with employers’ greater preference for female employees largely because of the lower wages and inferior working conditions associated with such employment.
Thus, employment in the formal sector fell in both rural and urban areas, and was not adequately compensated in quantitative terms by the more insecure and typically lower paid employment opportunities in the non-formal sectors of the economy. This created two related effects. Since the overwhelming majority of the workers in India are in the unorganised sector where wage incomes are not indexed to inflation, they are disproportionately affected by inflation and especially by the rise of food prices - and this proportion of population increased over the 1990s. Thus, not only are the employment conditions faced by most of the labour force more volatile and insecure, the wages that emerge from such contracts are also less certain to command basic necessities for working class and peasant households. Second, the very insecurity of employment, especially in urban areas, has created pressures for secondary activities that could add to the household income and has also caused increased resentment of those with significantly higher standards of living.
There is now significant evidence that that the main dynamic source of rural employment generation over the period from the mid 1970s to the late 1980s was the external agency of the state rather than forces internal to the rural economy (Ghosh, 1995). Indeed, the role of dynamic agriculture as a stimulus was significant only in states such as Punjab and Haryana where agricultural incomes had crossed a minimum threshold and where further increases in agricultural output were accompanied by labour displacement rather than greater labour absorption. Outside this limited region, the pull was provided mainly by external, that is governmental, stimuli.
In 1980s there was a fairly large expansion of ‘rural development’ schemes with an explicit redistributive concern. This included not only the various rural employment and IRDP programmes but also a plethora of special schemes for a variety of identifiable ‘target’ groups. These programmes were definitely less than entirely successful: they spawned a large bureaucracy and they became a focal point for the politics of ‘distributive coalitions’. Yet, even though the intended beneficiaries often got short-changed because of such leakages, these programmes still represented a fairly massive net transfer to rural areas.
However, over the 1990s, as seen above, several of the public policies which had contributed to more employment and less poverty in the rural areas in the earlier decade were reversed (Sen & Jha, 2001). Direct rural employment programmes of both Central and State governments have declined in terms of scope, number of work days generated and number of workers able to benefit from such programmes.
Employment generation programmes like MGNREGS have directly focused on the unorganized sector workers instead of generating employment through growth. Economic growth has also failed to have an impact on employment growth, resulting in the persistence of extreme poverty and associated ills like child labour. Indian labour market has widened the gap between the informal and the formal sectors, and increased the dependence on ‘bad’ jobs. Over 40 per cent of the workers are employed in ‘bad’ jobs, with abysmally low wages, low productivity and poor working conditions. Less than 7 per cent are employed in ‘good’ jobs found mostly in the services sector of the government. Thus, the link between growth and employment cannot be ignored if these 40 per cent of the workers have to be moved to better jobs, and growth must generate a sufficient number of ‘good’ jobs.
Institute for Human Development (2010) has made the following recommendations for improving the policies concerning employment and skills in India:
Social Development through Social Protection
The poor and poorest of the poor households are vulnerable to a range of risks affecting individuals, households or whole communities, which can have a devastating effect on their livelihoods and well- being. A village level study in three states, viz., Orissa, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh, for the year 2006 has shown that drought was the dominant risk followed by sudden health problems, cyclones/floods, and pest attack. If one considers the risks for all the states together, the occurrence of a sudden health problem emerges as the principal risk for all quartiles. Under covariate shocks, drought dominates other risks followed by cyclones/floods for all the quartiles (Institute for Human Development, 2010).
Governments in India have tried to address the issues concerning social protection though a number of programmes. Universal Capability Enhancing Programmes, Targeted Programmes for the Poor and Vulnerable, and Protective Social Security Programmes for Unorganised Workers are some of the recent programmes pursued by the government. Some of the thrust areas of these programmes have been self-employed programmes; wage employed programmes; food-based programmes; social security for the unorganised sector; social pensions; social security for the migrant workers; universal vs. targeted programmes; direct cash transfers; efficiency in implementation and governance; adoption of a rights-based approach; promotion of capability-enhancing programmes; and accordance of priority for women and children in offering social protection.
In the West, social protection evolved as a means to stabilize the market by protecting living standards and promoting occupational mobility, rather than for the alleviation of social destitution. However, In the Indian context, social protection is needed for both growth and equity, particularly for providing security to the unorganized sector, which contributes heavily to our economy. The main risks that the poor face are related to health (illness, injury, accidents, and disability), labour market (work in the informal sector which entails a high risk of unemployment and under-employment) and harvesting of crops (drought, pest attack, rain, damage to cattle/livestock). Displacement and access to land, as evident from the struggles of fish workers to gain access to marine resources and of forest dwellers to gain access to forests, also constitute a source of risk for those whose livelihoods are dependent on land. Of these, health and harvest are the greatest risk sources affecting poor households.
Borrowing from informal sources is the main coping mechanism used to tackle these risks. Other mechanisms include the sale of assets, spending from savings, expanded labour supply, use of child labour and bonded labour, reduced consumption, migration, etc. Since borrowing from the financial sector is being used to cover risks, it was pointed out that any discussion on financial inclusion should thus accommodate the social protection perspective as well. Hence, there is a need for social protection programmes to address the sources of risk. The prevention aspect, in fact, needs to be consciously and actively addressed. Since the State and civil society play a major role in overcoming area-specific shocks, access to and quality of public services becomes important in the case of shocks faced by individual households.
Further, in the urban context, the risk of development-induced displacement also increases the vulnerability of certain groups, such as displacement owing to the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). Although rehabilitation is provided under such circumstances, ignorance of legal processes for land regularization and land tenure security among the communities make them even more vulnerable to risks. The absence of a property rights regime in the urban areas exacerbates the problem, as it is also a determinant of accessibility to services. Hence, it is imperative to consider the issues of de-regulation of urban land. Social protection operates through mechanisms of social security, social assistance and social insurance, and provides a minimum floor thereby promoting social cohesion.
There are various mechanisms for social protection in India, wherein there is greater focus on social assistance/promotional measures, and protection/contingency type of social security measures are mostly available only for organised workers, who comprise a mere 7 per cent of the total number of workers. Besides universal capability-enhancing programmes (like the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, and National Rural Health Mission) and targeted programmes for the poor and vulnerable (such as the Targeted Public Distribution System), other wage programmes/ employment guarantee programmes (like the MGNREGS and National Urban Employment Guarantee Scheme) and food-based programmes providing social protection for the formal/informal workers also exist.
The problems associated with food-based programmes are well recognized. These include leakages in PDS, high targeting errors in inclusion and exclusion, among others.
Existing social pension schemes such as old age security, cash transfer, and the Indira Gandhi National Old Age Pension Scheme (NOAPS) have very low in several states (less than 10 per cent in some cases). While direct social transfers through Conditional Cash Transfers (CCTs) constitute an option, they are seen to have a limited impact owing to supply constraints as well as administrative and institutional gaps in their implementation, in addition to which that also probably undermine the agency of the poor in the development process.
While there is a consensus on the significance of health risks and the need for universal access to health services in the country, the requisite emphasis has not been placed on health-related programmes of social protection. There is a need for a quantum leap in public spending and in the formulation of policies on healthcare, as a single episode of illness can completely upset the household budget in the case of poor families. Further, the importance of occupation-based injuries and shocks must be recognized, and there is a need to provide basic occupational health services instead of just hospital-based services. However, health interventions must take into account the fact that perceptions of illness and ailments vary across social categories; the poor often under-report ailments as they do not understand the magnitude of the illness (and not necessarily because they do not have proper access to water, sanitation, and other services).
There has also been a shift towards a rights-based approach in the case of social protection, starting with the right to information, right to work, right to education and the right to food, all of which aim to create rights and entitlements for citizens. Social security needs to be anchored to the workplace, with 93 per cent of the workforce in India engaged in informal work patterns wherein social security mechanisms are less developed and barely operational. The NCEUS and its recommendations have played a role in the constitution of a social floor, with additional focus on conditions and dignity of work, and livelihood promotion as important components of social protection. Livelihood promotion is particularly significant, as the Informal Workers Social Security Act provides for only social assistance and does not include any component of livelihood promotion. While there are subsidies for livelihood support, especially livelihoods threatened by the opening of the economy, support for the transformation of livelihoods becomes important. The setting up of a Social Security Board could also be considered, which would organize stakeholders occupation-wise and take into account the needs and perceptions of informal workers, including the amounts that they would be willing to contribute for a social insurance scheme. This would help in making the system more cost-effective and efficient in addressing workers’ grievances. For example, Karnataka is the first state wherein such an exercise was carried out for construction workers, by introducing a cess on new buildings, they revealed.
Some of the major areas of concern in the area of Social Protection are as below:
Social Development through Population and Family Welfare
Demographic transition is a global phenomenon. Population growth and changes in age profile of the population are inevitable during this transition. India, the second most populous country in the world, has no more than 2.5% of global land but is the home of 1/6th of the world’s population. Living in a resource poor country with high population density, planners recognised that population stabilization is essential pre requisite for sustainable development. India became the first country in the world to formulate and implement the National Family Planning Programme in 1952.
Successive five year plans have provided the policy frame work and funding for building up nation-wide infrastructure and manpower. The family welfare programme provides additional manpower, drugs consumables and equipment needed for meeting the health care needs of women and children.
During the last five decades there has been a steep decline in mortality and relatively less steep but sustained decline in fertility. It is estimated that during the next two decades there will be a massive increase in the population in 10-59 age-group. The country will have to face the challenge and utilize this opportunity window during demographic transition to rapidly achieve both population stabilization and sustainable improvement in human development.
In India the demographic transition has been relatively slow but steady. As a result, the country was able to avoid adverse effects of too rapid changes in the numbers and age structure of the population on social and economic development.
However, the present challenge is to meet all the needs of rapidly growing adolescent and young adult population and to cater to their increasing expectations for improved quality, spectrum and access to services.
This demographic trend also provides certain opportunities. One such opportunity is to accelerate demographic and socio-economic transition by meeting the felt needs of the people. To achieve this we require a paradigm shift by which we learn to utilize human resources as the engine to hasten the socio-economic growth and by bringing about improvement in quality of life. We need to also bring about convergence and synergy between ongoing programmes to improve demographic, socio-economic and educational transitions to achieve rapid population stabilisation.
Family Planning as Family Welfare
An Expert Committee (1971) of the WHO defined Family Planning as a way of thinking and living that is adopted voluntarily, upon the basis of knowledge, attitudes and responsible decision by individuals and couples, in order to promote the health and welfare of the family group and thus contribute effectively to the social development of a country”.
Objectives of Family Planning
Family planning refers to practices that help individuals or couples to attain certain objectives:
Scope of Family Planning Services
It is not synonymous with birth control, but is in fact more than mere birth control. A WHO Expert Committee (1970) has stated that, family planning includes in its purview.
In this context, the Planning Commission clearly, recognized the need for population control right at the beginning of the planning exercise. To quote the First Five Year Plan, (1951-56), “The recent increase in the population of India and the pressure exercised on the limited resources of the country have brought to the forefront the urgency of the problem of family planning and population control. It is, therefore, apparent that, population control can be achieved only by the reduction of the birth-rate to the extent necessary to ‘stabilize the population’ at a level consistent with the requirements of national economy. This can be secured only by the realization of the need for family limitation on wider scale by the people”.
Social Development through Environment and Ecology
The idea of environmental management has always been a part of legislation in one form or the other under various regulations, laws, rules and statutes. The evolution of environmental legislation can be traced from early resource exploitation legislation through later resource management legislation to more recent legislation conceived primarily from the perspective of environmental management. This has resulted in much of the provisions relating to natural resource conservation, pollution control and protection of history, culture and aesthetics being scattered in a wide range of statutes and in some instances, the common and customary laws of countries, developed at different times and in vastly different political, economic and social contexts. One of these is how to achieve the necessary contextual change and harmonise the plethora of existing legal provisions. There are many challenges in developing an adequate legal and institutional regime for environmental management in the context of sustainable development.
The fundamental premises for developing effective legislation are as follows:
A survey of national environmental legislation reveals an important range of judicial mechanism for environmental management. These include anti-pollution laws, the codification of environmental and natural resources laws, and framework of environmental laws. They range from provisions in the Penal Codes, sectoral legislation on matters such as land use, agriculture, industry, forestry, wild life habitat, and more organic legislation dealing with principles of and institutional arrangements for environmental management. The choice of a legislative technique largely reflects the historical evolution of a country’s environmental policy and the nature of its legal system.
The function of national legislation is to:
Environment Legislation in India
Existing Indian environmental legislations can be grouped into the following four categories:
Issues in the Implementation of Environmental Laws in India
Despite so many legislative measures the state of the environment all over the world continues to be gloomy. The rivers and the lakes continue to be polluted with sewage and industrial waste, bio resources continue to disappear. The air quality in some major cities is at an alarming stage. According to the World Health Organisation, at present the Capital city of New Delhi is one of the top ten most polluted cities in the world. Surveys indicate that in New Delhi the incidence of respiratory diseases due to air pollution is about 12 times the national average. All these situations force us to find out the answers of following questions.
Where are the problems? What can be done to reverse the process and restore a balanced state of the environment? Let us first identify the basic problems in the enforcement of national environment legislations.
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