The individualist theory i.e., the state should simply perform police’ duties (protect the man from internal and external danger) does not hold good nowadays.

At present we find a definite and distinct tendency towards socialism. It is now considered to be the duty of the modern state to concern itself with the well-being of the entire body of its citizens in every sphere of activity.

According to Bums, the state must make the fullest contribution, “to the perfection of national life, to the development of the nation’s health and well-being, its morality and its intelligence.” On the basis of this principle, the functions of the state have been divided into two classes : (a) fundamental or compulsory and (b) optional and ministrant.

Compulsory or essential functions:

These are the functions which the state must perform in order to justify its existence. These may be discussed as follows:

1. Defence:


It is the most fundamental duty of every government to maintain a certain strength of defence forces in order to defend the country against any external aggression.

2. Maintenance of internal law and order:

Every government must maintain internal law and order including the protection of life, liberty and property of its citizens.

This function also includes the formulation of law regarding property relations, determination of con­tract rights, regulation of holdings, administration of civil and criminal justice, determination of political rights, etc.

3. Foreign relations:

A modem state cannot lead an isolated existence. It depends upon other states of the world for its multifarious needs. It is, therefore,essential that every state should maintain diplo­matic relations with other states of the world.

Optional functions:

These functions are discharged by a state not because their performance is essential for the maintenance of the state but because their administration is bound to prove advantageous in the larger interest of the people.


Performance of these functions is considered to be the normal duty of a modern positive and service stale. These functions, if left to private enterprise, may not be performed at all or may be improperly performed.

1. Education:

Education is the most important of all the optional functions of a modern civilized state. Right to education is included in the fundamental rights of citizens embodied in the constitutions of several states.

Every civilized state, therefore, makes ample provision for the imparting of education, primary, secondary and higher. Modern states establish schools, colleges and universities for their citizens.


It is neces­sary to enable them to take enlightened interest in public affairs and to understand their rights and duties. The Constitution of India in the Directive Principles of Stale Policy provides for free and compulsory education for all up to the age of 14.

2. Public health and medical relief:

It is yet another function which, though optional, is performed by all modern civilized states. Health being a condition precedent for happy life, every state, nowadays, pays special attention to it.

Large sums of money are spent by the modern state on hospitals, dispensaries and training of doctors and nurses and patronizing medical research. It also spends a lot of money for making provision of healthy and sanitary conditions of life.

3. Moral and social reform:

The question is often asked whether the state should promote morality and remove social evils. Individualists will reply in the negative. Other writers recognize the ethical end of the state but they believe that the state can promote morality only by indirect methods.


The state cannot force a man to be truthful, gentle or honest in his thoughts. The state can, however, promote morality in an indirect manner by putting an end to the hindrances that impede its growth.

Thus, if the state cannot compel a man to abstain from drinking it can remove the temptation to drink by prohibiting the manufacture and sale of wine. Our government has introduced partial prohibition in several states. Total prohibition has been introduced in Bombay.

Similarly, it is now regarded as a clear duty of the state to abolish by law social evils like sati, child marriage, untouchability, etc.

4. Regulation of trade and industry:

Most of the states until the middle of the nineteenth century followed the policy of laissez faire or, ‘leave alone’ and left the poor workers to their own fate. But this proved disastrous.


The result was that the state had to abandon the policy of laissez faire. Every state, therefore, in these days through factory laws, and other laws, regulate the hours of work of the laborers and also fixes minimum wages of the laborers.

The modem states also set up labour tribunals for deciding the disputes of factory owners and labour. More­over, they try to encourage the development of home industries by protecting them against foreign competition. The state also regulates industry through its control of currency and supervision of banking in the country.

5. Eradication of poverty:

It is also the most solemn duty of every civilized state to relieve poverty and unemployment. Modern states take care of the poor and the incapable by making laws to help them to secure employment. They start schemes to provide them work or to give them doles to maintain themselves.

They also establish poor houses and pay °ld age pensions. Modem states also undertake to fight the demon of Poverty by launching upon huge development programmes. Our govern­ment in India have undertaken huge irrigation and power projects. These aim at removing poverty and increasing the national income.

6. Development and maintenance of public utilities:

This in­cludes the management of such departments as posts and telegraphs, railways, telephones, broadcasting and maintenance of roads, public libraries, parks and gardens, museums, zoos, water and electricity. In most modern states, these services are managed and controlled by the state.


They are beyond the capacity of private enterprisers. Moreover, in view of their vital importance to the economic prosperity of the country, it is not at all possible to leave them at the mercy of profit seeking private individuals who may misuse them to the detriment of public interest.