The ideas of the welfare state in India are embedded in the Directive Principles of State Policy enunciated in the Constitution of India.
These are the principles on which Republic of India is founded and which give direction to the State action in unambiguous terms. Translated into action, they will make India a welfare state.
Article 38 states that the state shall strive to promote the welfare of the people by securing and protecting a social order in which justice, social, economic and political, shall inform all the institutions of the national life.
The state shall, in particular, strive to minimise the inequalities in income and endeavour to eliminate inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities, not only amongst individuals but also amongst groups of people residing in different areas or engaged in different vocations.
Article 39 states that the state shall direct its policy towards securing adequate means of livelihood to all citizens, proper distribution of the material resources of community for the common good, prevention of concentration of wealth to the common detriment, equal pay for equal work for both men and women, protection of health and avoiding circumstances which force citizens to enter avocations unsuited to their age and the protection of childhood and youth against exploitation.
Article 41 states that the state shall secure the right to work, education and public assistance in cases of undeserved wants such as unemployment, old age, sickness and so on.
Article 42 and 43 state that the state shall strive to secure work, a living wage, a decent standard of living, leisure and social and cultural opportunities for people. Article 43-A states that the State shall, by suitable legislation, secure the participation of workers in the management of undertakings.
Article 45 states that the state shall provide within ten years from the commencement of the Constitution, free and compulsory education to all children up to the age of 14 years.
Article 46 states that the State shall promote, with special care, the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people especially the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
Article 47 states that the state shall secure the improvement of public health and the prohibition of intoxicating drinks and drugs.
Classification of Directive Principles
The directive principles may be classified into five categories:
(a) Those relating to the citizen’s welfare. Article 43 aims at securing to the workers a living wage and healthy working conditions.
The directives do not operate per se but positive legislation is required for their enforcement. Thus the
Minimum Wages Act, 1948 was passed to ensure the payment of minimum wages to workers.
(b) Those relating to economic policies. Article 39 requires deconcentration of wealth and means of production for the welfare of the community.
(c) Those relating to social, cultural and educational policies. Thus Article 46 ensures promotion of the welfare of backward communities.
(d) Those relating to the promotion of the health of the community. Article 47 prescribes the duty of imposing prohibitions and the Prohibition Act was passed in Maharashtra.
It is the duty of the State to follow the directive principles both in the matter of administration and in the making of laws.
The present day State has a dual role negative and positive. The former is seen in the Police State while the latter in the Welfare State. From the stand-point of the individual, one restrains the activities of the state while the other expands them.
The one is political, since it is a question of mere law and order, the other is socio-political. Fundamental Rights put fetters on the State. Directive Principles impose duties on it. In the Directive Principles is found a clear statement of social revolution. India will be a welfare State and not a mere Police State.