India - Social welfare & inclusion overview
- India ranked 140th in the World Economic Forum's Global Gender Gap Report 2021.
- As per the report Women in Politics 2017 by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and UN Women, India has less than 15% representation of women in parliament; the Lok Sabha (lower house) had 64 women MPs (11.8% of 542 MPs) and the Rajya Sabha (upper house) had 27 (11% of 245 MPs).
- At the end of May 2021, the unemployment rate in India stood at 11.90%.
- According to the World Bank’s Global Financial Inclusion Database for Global Findex report (2017), 80% of Indian adults have a bank account and 77% of Indian women have a bank account.
- As of 2021, the internet penetration rate in India is at 45% (internet users with both access to the internet and the knowledge to use the web technology).
- As per the 2011-2012 census, 21.92% of the Indian population was below the poverty line.
- India ranked 62nd in the World Economic Forum’s Inclusive Development Index 2018.
Policies and Initiatives
- The Public Distribution System (PDS), National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGA), National Social Assistance Programme (NSAP) and the recently introduced Direct Benefit Transfer are the main social protection schemes in India. Allocations under NREGA and ‘One Nation-One Ration Card’ (ONORC) were implemented to deal with the impact of COVID-19 on the vulnerable.
- The principle of gender equality is enshrined in the Indian Constitution in its Preamble, Fundamental Rights, Fundamental Duties and Directive Principles. The 1993 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution of India have provided for the reservation of seats and the increased representation of women in the local bodies of Panchayats (local councils) and Municipalities.
- The Indian Constitution provided for the reservation of seats for Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) in the lower house of Parliament and in the Legislative Assemblies of states for a period of 70 years since the enactment of the Constitution. As this provision was due to expire on 25 January 2020, in December 2019, the 126th constitutional amendment bill was passed by the lower house extending the reservation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes for another 10 years, to 25 January 2030. The 124th Constitutional Amendment provides reservation of seats in the lower house of parliament and legislative assemblies for economically disadvantaged representation in the general category.
- The Sachar Committee was mandated to prepare a report on the social, economic and educational status of the Muslim community of India and make recommendations for appropriate interventional measures to improve the same. It submitted a report in 2006.
- Xaxa Committee on Tribal Communities of India was mandated to examine the socio-economic, educational and health status of tribal communities and recommend appropriate interventional measures to improve the same. It submitted report in May, 2014.
- The National Health Policy (2017) seeks to universalise access to basic healthcare by making essential drugs and basic health services free at public hospitals. The Ayushman Bharat scheme, launched in September 2018, aims to deliver universal healthcare to all Indians by providing the world’s largest national health insurance scheme with a large participating network of health and wellness centres.
- The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Mid-day Meal Scheme, National Means-cum-merit Scholarship Scheme aim to help economically disadvantaged social groups get access to education, make the Indian education system more inclusive, and reduce drop-out rates. These are supplemented by other policies and schemes focused on the most marginalised groups: Girls, rural poor, minorities, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The National Education Policy 2020 provides recommendations to address the challenges of inequity and disparity in the current education system. e-Pathshala and SWAYAM have been developed to bridge the digital divide (geographical, socio-cultural and linguistic) and increase access to online education.
- The National Youth Policy (2014) aims to create a productive workforce, contributing to India’s economic development, a strong and healthy generation; promote social values and community services; facilitate participation and civic engagement; support youth at risk and create equitable opportunity for all disadvantaged and marginalised youth. Priority areas of intervention are education, employment and skill development, entrepreneurship, health, sports, participation in politics, inclusion and social justice.
- The Accessible India Campaign is a nation-wide flagship campaign aiming to achieve universal accessibility that enables people with disabilities to gain access to equal opportunity, live independently and participate fully in all aspects of life in an inclusive society.
- The Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), Atal Pension Yojana, Direct Benefit Transfers (DBTs) have played a significant role in ensuring financial inclusion in India.
- India has ratified six out of the eight core/fundamental International Labour Organisation (ILO) Conventions.
In India, both the union and the state governments are responsible for the social welfare of the people. While the central government carves out key welfare policies and provides funds to states, state governments also adopt various policies to meet the needs of their respective states. The union Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment is responsible for welfare, social justice and empowerment of disadvantaged and marginalised sections of society. The ministry has two departments: (i) Department of Social Justice and Empowerment (Samajik Nyaya and Adhikarita Vibhag) (ii) Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (Divyangjan). There are other ministries that play an integral role in ensuring social welfare and inclusion, these include the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Ministry of Women & Child Development and the Ministry of Minority Affairs. The Scheduled Castes Development (SCD) Bureau aims to promote the welfare of Scheduled Castes through their educational, economic and social empowerment. The National Commission for Scheduled Castes provides safeguards against the exploitation of Scheduled Castes and Anglo Indian communities to promote and protect their social, educational, economic and cultural interests, special provisions were made in the Constitution. Similarly, the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes provides safeguards against the exploitation of Scheduled Tribes to promote and protect their social, educational, economic and cultural interests, special provisions were made in the Constitution. The National Commission for Women was set up as statutory body in 1992 to review the Constitutional and legal safeguards for women; recommend remedial legislative measures, facilitate redressal of grievances and advise the Government on all policy matters affecting women.