The distinct features of welfare state are discussed here.
1. An Instrument for Social Welfare:
The welfare state is dedicated to the welfare of people. It seeks to provide minimum facilities to all people, to remove poverty, hunger and unemployment, and to bridge the gap between the rich and poor. It aims at establishing social and economic justice.
2. A Compromise between Individualisms and Socialism:
The welfare state, while avoiding the two extreme theories, namely, individualism and socialism, opts for a middle path between them. It is in fact the mid-point between these two extremes; it gives equal importance to both individual and state.
It values both the liberty of the individual and the interests of the society. The state is considered the friend, philosopher and guide of the individual.
3. Establishment of Democracy:
The welfare state is a democratic state. It functions through democratic institutions and in a democratic way. Democracy is a fundamental basis of the welfare state. *
4. Equal Rights of All:
It gives equal rights to all irrespective of caste, race and religion. It does not discriminate against anybody. It treats all equally.
5. Development through Planning:
It believes in planning. It seeks to provide welfare to people through planned programmes. It follows ‘mixed economy’ model of development. The state controls and regulates economy through planning.
6. Moral Development of Individual:
The welfare state creates conducive environment for the moral development of individual. When the individual is able to meet his basic needs of life and enjoys fundamental rights and freedoms, his self-confidence grows and his personality develops. The development of social morality makes the state strong and individual happy.
7. A Positive State:
The welfare state is a positive state. It regards itself more as an agency of social service than as an instrument of power. It is said that in a welfare state “the individual has only to get him born, the state will do the rest”. The state looks after the individual from the cradle to the grave.
8. Social welfare is the Right of Individual, not a Dole from the State:
An eminent political scientist of India, Asirvatham observes, “The first important thing to remember is that welfare is not a matter of charity, but of right. Secondly, if welfare is to be genuine welfare, the ground for it should have been prepared by the various agencies at work in the state. In the third place, if the welfare state is to be a blessing and not a curse, it should not produce a pauper mentality on the part of its recipients.”