Assessing recent Social Security Programs in India
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There has been a major expansion of social security programmes in India during the last fifteen years or so, along with wider recognition of economic and social rights. This paper discusses five programmes of interest: school meals, child care services, employment guarantee, food subsidies and social security pensions. The record of these programmes varies a great deal between Indian states, but there is growing evidence that they make an important contribution to human well-being, and also that the achievements of the leading states are gradually spreading to other states as well. Much scope remains for extending these efforts: despite the recent expansion, India’s social security system is still very limited in international perspective. The paper also discusses some general issues of social policy in India, such as the arguments for universalization versus targeting, the role and limitations of legal entitlements, and the influence of democratic politics on social security programmes.
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