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22th December 2020 – Editorials/Opinions Analyses


  1. New Welfarism of Modi govt represents distinctive approach to redistribution and inclusion
  2. Humans are still core to Digital India

Editorial: New Welfarism of Modi govt represents distinctive approach to redistribution and inclusion


  • Traditional redistribution, which aims to deliver on intangibles like health and education, has ceded to a distinctive ‘New Welfarism’, where Centre is demonstrably providing tangible essentials to citizens.


  • GS Paper 2: Welfare Schemes (centre, states; performance, mechanisms, laws, institutions and bodies constituted for protection of vulnerable sections);

Mains Questions:

  1. New Welfarism’s calculation is that there is rich electoral opportunity in providing tangible goods and services, which are relatively straightforward to deliver, measure and monitor. Discuss. 15 Marks
  2. ‘In the context of neo-liberal paradigm of development planning, multi-level planning is expected to make operations cost effective and remove many implementation blockages.’-Discuss. 15 Marks
  3. What explains the difference between the success of New Welfarism and the failure on stunting? 10 Marks

Dimensions of the Article:

  • What is Human Development and its pillars?
  • Approaches to Human Development and New Welfarism
  • Significance of New Welfarism
  • Limitations of New Welfarism
  • Way Forward

What is Human Development and its pillars?

The concept of human development was introduced by Dr Mahbub-ul-Haq. Dr Haq has described human development as development that enlarges people’s choices and improves their lives. People are central to all development under this concept. These choices are not fixed but keep on changing. The basic goal of development is to create conditions where people can live meaningful lives.

Nobel Laureate Prof Amartya Sen saw an increase in freedom (or decrease in unfreedom) as the main objective of development. Interestingly, increasing freedoms is also one of the most effective ways of bringing about development. His work explores the role of social and political institutions and processes in increasing freedom.

Just as any building is supported by pillars, the idea of human development is supported by the concepts of equity, sustainability, productivity and empowerment.

  • Equity refers to making equal access to opportunities available to everybody. The opportunities available to people must be equal irrespective of their gender, race, income and in the Indian case, caste.
  • Sustainability means continuity in the availability of opportunities. To have sustainable human development, each generation must have the same opportunities. All environmental, financial and human resources must be used keeping in mind the future. Misuse of any of these resources will lead to fewer opportunities for future generations.
  • Productivity here means human labour productivity or productivity in terms of human work. Such productivity must be constantly enriched by building capabilities in people. Ultimately, it is people who are the real wealth of nations. Therefore, efforts to increase their knowledge, or provide better health facilities ultimately leads to better work efficiency.
  • Empowerment means to have the power to make choices. Such power comes from increasing freedom and capability. Good governance and people-oriented policies are required to empower people. The empowerment of socially and economically disadvantaged groups is of special importance.

Approaches to Human Development and New Welfarism:

  • Income Approach: This is one of the oldest approaches to human development. Human development is seen as being linked to income. The idea is that the level of income reflects the level of freedom an individual enjoys. Higher the level of income, the higher is the level of human development.
  • Welfare Approach: This approach looks at human beings as beneficiaries or targets of all development activities. The approach argues for higher government expenditure on education, health, social secondary and amenities. People are not participants in development but only passive recipients. The government is responsible for increasing levels of human development by maximising expenditure on welfare.
  • Basic Needs Approach: This approach was initially proposed by the International Labour Organisation (ILO). Six basic needs i.e.: health, education, food, water supply, sanitation, and housing were identified. The question of human choices is ignored and the emphasis is on the provision of basic needs of defined sections.
  • Capability Approach: This approach is associated with Prof. Amartya Sen. Building human capabilities in the areas of health, education and access to resources is the key to increasing human development.
  • New Welfarism: The New Welfarism represents a very distinctive approach to redistribution and inclusion. It does not prioritise the supply of public goods such as basic health and primary education as governments have done around the world historically. Instead, it has entailed the subsidised public provision of essential goods and services, normally provided by the private sector, such as bank accounts, cooking gas, toilets, electricity, housing, and more recently water and also plain cash.

Significance of New Welfarism:

  • Increasing Financial Inclusion: By 2019, 72 per cent of all women had bank or savings accounts that they report as being able to use themselves. Ninety-eight per cent of all households had access to electricity, nearly 70 per cent to improved sanitation, and 60 per cent to clean cooking fuel. Financial Inclusion helps people in following ways:
    • Access to financial services enables the poorest and most vulnerable in society to step out of poverty and reduces the inequality in society
    • Financial inclusion not only helps individuals and families, but collectively it develops entire communities and can help drive economic growth.
    • Financial inclusion is about enabling and empowering people and communities.  Enabling people to have the ability and tools to manage and save their money. Empowering people with the skills and knowledge to make the right financial decisions.
  • Increasing the access of goods and services: The pace of improvement, measured as the percentage of households that have gained access to these goods and services each year, has accelerated since 2015 (the lines tilt more sharply upwards). Improvement has been especially marked in rural India.
  • Sanitation: Post-2015, 3.4 per cent of households were gaining access to better sanitation, compared to 1.5 per cent before.
  • Cooking Fuels: For cleaner cooking fuels, the pace increased seven-fold to 5.6 per cent of households every year after 2015.
  • Electricity: For rural electricity, 2 per cent of additional households were getting power every year pre-2015, and the pace increased to 3.4 percent of households every year.
  • Women Empowerment:
    • Economic Empowerment: Every year, pre-2015, an additional 1.5 per cent of women in rural areas were acquiring bank or savings accounts that they could themselves use. Post-2015, this rose to 7.1 per cent, a near five-fold increase. In rural Bihar, the number of women with accounts jumped from 6.6 per cent in 2005 to 25 per cent in 2015 to almost 50 per cent in 2019.

Limitations of New Welfarism:

  • Electoral Centric Approach: New Welfarism approach focus more on tangibles goods like electricity, gas etc which can be easily measured. Thus the government tries to get more electoral benefits through this approach.
  • Less Improvement in Intangible Goods: Child Stunting, After showing a slow but steady decline, especially between 2005 and 2015, there has been a disappointing reversal thereafter with overall stunting rates flattening and urban rates rising.

Way Forward:

Both tangible and intangible goods are important. Therefore, First, governments need visions — both substantive and political. Second, some outcomes require direct, relatively easy action (like delivering tangible goods and services) but others will be more difficult, requiring above all a dynamic economy, and a conception of the policies and institutions that will support it.

Editorial: Humans are still core to Digital India


  • During the pandemic, we came to rely on various individuals to address our daily needs, even as more and more services went online. This transformation is underway in governance.


GS Paper 2:  E-Governance (applications, models, successes, limitations, potential)

Mains Questions:

  1. Intermediaries who deliver last mile governance establish trust between governments and citizens. Discuss the statement in context of E Governance. 15 Marks
  2. E-Governance is not only about utilization of the power of new technology, but also much about critical importance of the ‘use value’ of information Explain. 15 Marks

Dimensions of the Article:

  • What is E-Governance?
  • Significance of E-Governance.
  • Role of Intermediaries in E-Governance
  • Challenges related E-Governance
  • Way Forward

What is E-Governance?

Electronic governance or e-governance can be defined as the usage of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) by the government to provide and facilitate government services, exchange of information, communication transactions and integration of various stand-alone systems and services. In other words, it is the use of technology to perform government activities and achieve the objectives of governance.

E-governance can take place in four major types of interactions:

  • Government to Government (G2G) where information is exchanged within the government i.e. either, between the central government, state government and local governments or between different branches of the same government.
  • Government to Citizen (G2C) where the citizens have a platform through which they can interact with the government and get access to the variety of public services offered by the Government.
  • Government to Businesses (G2B) where businesses are able to interact with the government seamlessly with respect to the services of the government offered to businesses
  • Government to Employees (G2E) where interaction between the government and its employees occurs in an efficient and speedy manner.

Significance of E-Governance:

  • Fast, Convenient and Cost-Effective Service Delivery: With the advent of e-Service delivery, the government can provide information and services at lesser costs, in reduced time and with greater convenience.
  • Transparency, Accountability and Reduced Corruption: Dissemination of information through ICT increases transparency, ensures accountability and prevents corruption.
  • Expanded Reach of Governance: Expansion of telephone network, rapid strides in mobile telephony, spread of internet and strengthening of other communications infrastructure would facilitate delivery of number of public services.
  • Empowering people through information: Increased accessibility to information has empowered the citizens and has enhanced their participation. E.g., Recently launched Jan Soochna Portal by the Rajasthan State Government. The initiative is inspired by the spirit of Section 4 (2) of Right to Information Act, 2005, i.e. “Proactive Disclosure of Information”.
  • Improve interface with Business and Industry: Industrial development in India has been hampered in the past with complex procedures and bureaucratic delays.

Role of Intermediaries in E-Governance:

  • Intermediaries help citizens overcome barriers to awareness (of availability of digital services and rights from the state) and ability, which includes the ability to navigate these solutions with trust.
  • These barriers are worse for citizens who are marginalised, with the poor, women, the elderly, and caste and gender minorities being additionally disadvantaged.
  • Intermediaries support individuals by placing complaints, directing them to the right authorities, and following up. In the words of one of the respondents, “these people help us see the government”.
  • Intermediaries are crucial offline architectures that enable the state to do its work better. Offline intermediaries can be both political and apolitical, individuals or collectives with varying motivations to do this work.

Challenges related to E-Governance:

  • Digital divide: There is separation that exists between the individuals, communities and businesses that have access to Information Technology and those that do not have such access.
  • Cost: In developing countries like India, cost is one of the most important obstacles in the path of implementation of e-governance projects. A huge amount of money is involved in implementation, operational and evolutionary maintenance tasks.
  • Privacy and Security: A critical obstacle in implementing e-Governance is the privacy and security of an individual’s personal data that he/she provides to obtain government services.
  • Local language: The e-governance applications must be written in local language of the people so that they may be able to use and take advantage of these applications.
  • Resistance to Change: The struggle to change phenomenon can explain much of the hesitation that occurs on the part of the constituents in moving from a paper-based to a web-based system to interact with government.

Way Forward:

At a broader level, increasing digitisation of governance across domains including healthcare, financial inclusion, justice and social services is inevitable. We need to ensure that during this transition, we work with intermediaries to raise citizens’ awareness, build intermediaries’ skills and capabilities, and establish governance frameworks with suitable feedback loops. In doing so, we will be able to support the process of responsible, responsive and data-driven governance across domains.

March 2024