The question “Development and welfare schemes for the vulnerable, by its nature, are discriminatory in approach.” Do you agree?" was asked in the Mains 2023 GS Paper 2. Let us look at the model answer to this question.
Answer: To uphold the value of social justice and to address the many problems faced by vulnerable sections like women, elderly, minorities, tribals, LGBTQ+ etc. government launches various targeted welfare schemes for them. For example, Beti Bachao Beti Padhao Yojana for girlchild, Rashtriya Vayoshri Yojana for elderly etc.
Development and welfare schemes for vulnerable sections- discriminatory in nature:
- Targeted Approach: Since these schemes are targeted towards a particular section, they exclude other vulnerable sections who may also require special care.
- For example, Adivasi Mahila Sashaktikaran Yojana provides financial assistance to tribal women which can also be made available to women from general category.
- Stigmatisation: By singling out certain groups for assistance, welfare programs can unintentionally stigmatize those groups, perpetuating stereotypes and biases.
- For example, MoW&CD scheme to provide critical care and support to pregnant minor victims of sexual assault
- Limited resources: Prioritizing certain vulnerable groups can inadvertently discriminate against others who may also be in need but do not meet the specific criteria.
- For example, Scheme of Girls & Boys Hostels for STs and SCs may deviate attention from other poorer sections who may also require Hostel facilities.
- Top-down approach: these schemes are formed at the top level without involvement of the vulnerable section. They may lack a detailed idea of the exact needs and requirements of the vulnerable sections.
- Exclusion Errors: Targeted schemes can sometimes result in exclusion errors, where deserving individuals or communities are left out due to inefficiencies.
Development and Welfare schemes promoting positive discrimination:
- Achieve equity: The development and welfare schemes recognize that different groups may have different needs and require targeted assistance to achieve equal access to resources and opportunities.
- For example, Standup India scheme to make loans easily available for SCs, STs and women.
- Efficiency: Targeting vulnerable groups can be more efficient in terms of resource allocation as the limited resources are directed to those who need them the most.
- For example, distribution of iron-fortified rice to adivasis.
- Human Rights and Social Justice: Providing assistance to vulnerable groups can be seen as a way to rectify historical injustices and promote social justice.
- Inclusive growth: Welfare schemes promote inclusive growth by providing a safety net that reduces inequality and poverty, enabling marginalized populations to participate more fully in the economy.
- For example, schemes like Nai Roshni and Nai Udaan for minorities.
Thus, the welfare schemes may seem discriminatory but if implemented properly, they can help address historical wrongs and promote social equality. Emphasis should be laid on better targeting, avoiding exclusion errors and participatory design of the schemes.