The privatisation of public welfare in India 

Laksh Venkataraman


Mainstream welfare narratives have so far been state-centric often with the dismissive postulations about market. In contrast, the public seems to be increasingly convinced about market in India. Any scholarly analysis of public policy regimes can bring out these complexities at present. The welfare regimes of the past three decades have been attempting to lift the post-colonial nation-state from the ‘notorious’ group of Least Developed Countries (LDCs). In this backdrop, this Paper argues that Indian state is neither ensuring social welfare nor even bother to be a service-regime. This could be due to the intersectionalities of postcolonial past twisted through the mixed economy model from the extremes of socialism to capitalism over the years. Consequently, the common-men neither has capabilities for human flourishment nor even the quality of opportunities in real lives. Thus, the peculiarity with the Indian model of development (IMoD) can be seen in the populist rhetoric where diverse players’ desperations to reach the heightened forms of welfare without essentially going through the natural stages of growth. The incessant attempts to enter the global institutions like the United Nations’ Security Council underscores those desperations. This has been aptly critiqued by Sen as “India is the only country in the world which is trying to become a global economic power with an uneducated and unhealthy labor force." (Sen 2015)1. Consequently, the nature of welfare regime is “unique” where even the deprived citizens have neither social securities nor have supports for their basic humane needs. While IMoD restructures the State as a “facilitator” in the welfare regimes from the historicity of Regulator Raj, one can witness the mixed roles in public welfare. This practically leads into a privatization of public welfare where the collective human agencies are seemingly rationalizing in India today.

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