“Power has only one duty – to secure the social welfare of the People.”
– Benjamin Disraeli
The welfare state is a government concept in which the state or a well-established network of social institutions plays a vital role in citizens’ economic and social well-being protection and promotion. It is founded on the ideals of equal opportunity, equitable economic distribution, and public responsibility for those who are unable to get the bare necessities of life. The broad phrase can refer to a range of economic and social structures.
Social insurance, which is provided in most advanced industrialised countries, is a key aspect of the welfare state. This type of insurance is typically funded through mandatory payments and is designed to offer benefits to individuals and families during times of greatest need. It is widely recognized, however, that in practice the cash benefits fall considerably short of the levels intended by the designers of the plans.
Basic education, health care, and housing are frequently provided by the government as part of the welfare state. In many regards, the welfare state in western European countries is substantially more extensive than in the United States, with many countries providing comprehensive health care and state-subsidized university education.
Anti-poverty programmes and the personal taxation system are further examples of welfare state elements. Personal taxes falls under this category insofar as its progressive nature is utilised to create greater equity in income distribution, as well as insofar as it is used to fund social insurance payments and other benefits that are not entirely funded by mandatory contributions. In socialist countries, the welfare state also takes care of employment and price regulation.
Welfare state according to the great thinkers:
There is an increasing trend among modern states to declare themselves to be “welfare states.” Regarding the definition and functions of the welfare state, writers and intellectuals have differing viewpoints. Nonetheless, a welfare state is more generally viewed as a social service agency than as a tool of power.
- D.L. Hobman in his The Welfare State defines welfare state as “a compromise between the two extremes of communism on the one hand and unbridled individualism on the other”.
- Herbert H. Lehman opines that “the welfare state is simply a state in which people are free to develop their individual capacities, to receive just awards for their talents, and to engage in the pursuit of happiness, unburdened by fear of actual hunger, actual homelessness or oppression by reason of race, creed or color.”
- G. D. H. Cole says, “The welfare state is a society in which an assured minimum standard of living and opportunity becomes the possession of every citizen.”
- Arthur Schlesinger says, “The welfare state is a system wherein government agrees to underwrite certain levels of employment, income, education, medical aid, social security, and housing for all its citizens.”
It is clear from the definitions cited above that the welfare state is one, which is wedded to the principle of promoting the general happiness and welfare of all the people. As P. Gisbert says, the welfare state is one which takes upon itself the responsibility “to provide social services for the nation to bring under public ownership important industries or enterprises placing certain controls on private enterprise, and to organize democratic planning on a national scale.”
The welfare state’s primary goal is to improve economic conditions. It entails a re-allocation of income to benefit those who are less fortunate. The state attempts to promote national production while reducing income inequities through taxation.
Since 1870, the German word sozialstaat (“social state”) has been used to characterise state-sponsored welfare programmes designed by sozialpolitiker (“social politicians”) and implemented as part of Bismarck’s conservative reforms. Sweden’s social insurance arrangements are referred to in Germany as wohlfahrtsstaat, which is a direct translation of the English “welfare state.” In Anglophone countries, the direct English counterpart “social state” did not catch on. During WWII, however, Anglican Archbishop William Temple, author of Christianity and the Social Order (1942), popularised the term “welfare state” to describe the concept. Bishop Temple’s use of “welfare state” has been connected to Benjamin Disraeli’s 1845 novel Sybil: or the Two Nations, where he writes “power has only one duty — to secure the social welfare of the PEOPLE”. Disraeli was a member of Young England at the time he wrote Sybil, a conservative group of young Tories who opposed the Whig’s treatment of the industrial poor. Members of Young England sought support from the aristocratic classes in order to help the less fortunate and to recognise the dignity of labour that they believed existed in England during the Feudal Middle Ages. The Swedish welfare state is called folkhemmet and goes back to the 1936 compromise, as well as to another important contract made in 1938 between Swedish trade unions and large corporations. Even though the country is often rated comparably economically free, Sweden’s mixed economy remains heavily influenced by the legal framework and continual renegotiations of union contracts, a government-directed and municipality-administered system of social security, and a system of universal health care that is run by the more specialized and in theory more politically isolated county councils of Sweden.
The original German term is reproduced in the Italian term stato sociale (“social state”) and the Turkish term sosyal devlet. The concept is known in French as l’État-providence. A similar term is used in Spanish and many other languages: estado del bienestar, which means “state of well-being.” There are two related words in Portuguese: estado de bem-estar social, which means “state of social well-being,” and estado de providência, which means “providing state,” which refers to the state’s mission of ensuring the citizens’ basic well-being. Previdência social, or “social providence,” is the Brazilian term for the notion.
Functions of the Welfare State:
The concept of the Welfare State is of tremendous significance all over the world. Irrespective of the type of the government, whether democratic or totalitarian, communist or socialist, monarchic or oligarchic, all the modern states call themselves welfare states.
The so-called modern welfare states perform certain functions to promote the well-being of the people. The type of their welfare activities and the manner in which they undertake them depend upon the nature of their political systems; whether democratic or totalitarian. However, the main functions which a welfare state normally performs may be explained here.
(1) Maintenance of Peace and Order:
The welfare state is responsible for maintaining internal peace and order as well as providing security to its residents. It effectively defends its area from outside aggressions or threats. It upholds the rule of law and promotes political stability. This alleviates the people’s incessant stress and anxiety.
(2) Protects People’s Rights and Provides Justice:
The welfare state guarantees inalienable fundamental rights to its citizens. It guarantees the rights to life, liberty, and happiness, as well as equality, property, and the freedom of opinion and speech. It ensures that all people, regardless of their class, colour, creed, caste, religion, or region, are treated fairly.
(3) Conservation of Natural Resources:
Against the competitive private interests, the welfare state attempts to maintain its natural resources in the general good of the community. It keeps the community’s resources, such as forests, fisheries, wildlife, minerals, and art treasures, from being wasted.
(4) Provision of Education:
Education is a top priority for the welfare state. Individuals have more opportunities to develop their personalities as a result of it. It encourages the weaker elements of society to improve their educational and economic standing. Some countries, such as India, have made basic and secondary education free but compulsory. Primary and secondary schools, colleges, universities, research centres, libraries, art classes, technical schools and institutions, medical and agricultural institutes, and so on are all supported by the welfare state.
(5) Arrangement of Public Utility Services:
Roads, train lines, irrigation, water supply, and electric power are all built by modern welfare governments. It provides services such as post and telegraph, radio, television, and telephone, among others. It handles transportation arrangements for buses, trains, planes, and ships.
(6) Encouragement of Trade, Industry, Commerce and Agriculture:
The welfare state creates some large industries on its own to stimulate industrial growth and avoid exploitation. States frequently handle iron and steel, locomotives, aircraft, and other heavy industries, as well as large dams, multi-purpose projects, significant transportation and communication lines, and so on.
(7) Organisation of Labour:
The welfare state is particularly concerned with the needs of the working class. It enacts adequate labour laws and protects workers from exploitation. It boosts their well-being in a number of ways. It allows people to form labour unions in order to preserve their rights. It also seeks to improve people’s living conditions.
(8) Protection of Old, Poor and the Handicapped:
The protection of the old, indigent, and disabled has become a fundamental element of modern welfare states. The aged and retired receive pensions, while the unemployed and handicapped receive maintenance allowances. Various social security procedures are in place to ensure that all of the state’s vulnerable inhabitants are adequately protected.
(9) Maintenance of Public Health:
The welfare state provides many preventive and curative medical facilities to safeguard the public health. It makes provision for sanitation, hospitals, free medicine, vaccination and essential energising foods for the poor and so on. It arranges to control deadly diseases like malaria, cholera, small pox, plague, T.B., venereal diseases, skin-diseases, leprosy, etc. It runs medical colleges, research centres, training schools for nurses, etc.
(10) Arrangement of Recreation:
Films, drama, music, exhibitions, fairs, and other forms of entertainment are provided by the state for its residents. It also creates public parks, museums, libraries, and playgrounds, holds competitions to encourage excellence, and honours talented individuals.
(11) Maintains Social Harmony:
Laws against wicked and destructive customs and behaviours are enacted by the welfare state. It uses a variety of methods to bring people from varied socio-religious backgrounds closer together. It aims to enhance societal harmony by improving people’s understanding of one another.
(12) Prevents Disorganisation:
The welfare state also tries to prevent or check the process of socio-economic disorganisation. By making use of various means it tries to solve such socio-economic problems like crime, juvenile delinquency, prostitution, untouchability, population problem, poverty, beggary and so on. The efficiency of a welfare state can be measured by its successful attempts in removing these problems.
Thus, it is clear now that the function of the welfare state is not merely administration, but an integral welfare and development of its subjects. In fact, there is no limit to what the welfare state can do for the service of the community. The popular statement state help kills self-help is not always true. Still, the Welfare State is not all in all.
The welfare state is a type of government in which the state, or a well-established network of social organisations, plays a vital role in ensuring citizens’ economic and social well-being. It is founded on the ideals of equal opportunity, equitable economic distribution, and public responsibility for those who are unable to get the bare necessities of life. The broad phrase can refer to a range of economic and social structures.
1.A welfare state ensures social security.
2.A welfare state is socialistic in nature.
3.It exercises control over all the economic activities.
4.It provides even the basic facilities to its citizens.
5.It undertakes and runs various enterprises.
6.It ensures justice to all.
7.Planning of activities.
8.It is the function of a welfare state to regulate and control all private enterprises engaged in economic activities.
9.Welfare of labourers also comes under the purview of the duties of welfare state.
I have always been against Glorifying Over Work and therefore, in the year 2021, I have decided to launch this campaign “Balancing Life”and talk about this wrong practice, that we have been following since last few years. I will be talking to and interviewing around 1 lakh people in the coming 2021 and publish their interview regarding their opinion on glamourising Over Work.
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