India as a post-colonial welfare state

Authored by: Sony Pellissery , T.V.S. Sasidhar

Routledge Handbook of the Welfare State

Print publication date:  July  2018
Online publication date:  June  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138631649
eBook ISBN: 9781315207049
Adobe ISBN:


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India was a British colony for more than 150 years. Although Britain is one of the earlier welfare states of the world, the welfare state did not occupy significant space in the history of India under British rule. The story of welfare state development in India is the story of post-colonial development. The challenges for the emergence of a welfare state are not linked to the colonial nature of administration but to the social inequalities in India. These social inequalities are rooted in the social structure which evolved from the less egalitarian philosophy professed by the Hindu religion. The responsibility to address these challenges has been transferred to the new administration post India’s independence in 1947. The theoretical grounding for building a modern nation is in the Constitution of India which provides the framework for the welfare state. The idea of modernity and ‘development’ as a vehicle to achieve it has defined the welfare state in Indian polity. In this chapter, we argue that post-colonial welfare states tend to incur more ‘developmental expenditure’ than ‘social expenditure’.

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