Development and welfare schemes in India, guided by the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) enshrined in the Constitution, aim to create a welfare state that uplifts disadvantaged groups, including women, Scheduled Castes (SCs), Scheduled Tribes (STs), minorities, and the elderly. These schemes seek to promote inclusion and rectify historical socio-economic disparities.
Some aspects of welfare schemes can be perceived as discriminatory, which are as follows:
- Targeting Specific Groups: Many welfare schemes focus on specific vulnerable groups, such as Pradhan Mantri Adarsh Gram Yojana’s emphasis on villages with over 50% SC population. While this targeting addresses specific needs, it can inadvertently exclude others.
- Resource Allocation: Limited resources may prioritize certain groups, leaving others underserved. Nutrition programs that prioritize children and seniors might leave working-age adults without sufficient support.
- Exclusionary Criteria: Strict eligibility criteria, such as income-based parameters, may exclude individuals slightly above the threshold but still facing financial precarity.
- Gender Stereotypes: Some schemes inadvertently perpetuate gender stereotypes, like PM Ujjawala Yojana implying that only women should cook.
However, it is important acknowledge their contribution for the welfare of vulnerable sections:
- Upholding the Constitution: The Constitution of India, through DPSP and the Preamble, seeks to establish a welfare state (Article 38, 39A, 41, 42, 43). These schemes align with constitutional ideals.
- Social Upliftment: India’s Human Development Index (HDI) ranking indicates the necessity of uplifting marginalized groups and the welfare schemes aim to free vulnerable sections from marginalization and backwardness.
- Inclusive Development: Programs like Beti Bachao Beti Padhao, Janani Suraksha Yojana, and POSHAN are designed for inclusive development and reducing disparities.
The perception of discrimination in these schemes depends on context. While they may seem discriminatory in certain aspects, their primary goal is often to address specific vulnerabilities and reduce inequality. However, by implementing inclusive policies, using grievance redressal mechanisms, and including sunset clauses to periodically review and adapt these schemes, any biases can be eradicated, eventually leading to “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas”.