Most of modern states claim today to be welfare stales. They adopt a middle path by avoiding the two extreme paths, namely, individualism and socialism. They work for social justice and welfare of all without endangering the liberty of individual. The functions of welfare states are divided mainly into two parts, namely,
1. Compulsory or essential, and
1. Compulsory Functions:
These functions are essential for the existence of state and the defence and liberty of individual. These are also known as protective functions.
(a) Maintaining Law and Order:
It is an essential duty of welfare state to provide security to life and property of individuals. The state introduces rule of law. It punishes those who violate law. It maintains law and order with the help of police. Through judiciary, it gives justice to the innocent, and punishes the guilty.
It is the basic duty of welfare state to defend the country against external aggression. The military fights against the aggressor.
(c) Foreign Policy:
In the age of globalization, relations among states have increased; they are getting increasingly connected to one another. In this background it is the duty of state to formulate a successful foreign policy.
In this reports, its functions include sending and receiving diplomats, concluding international treaties and other agreements discussing international issues in the UN and other forums.
(d) Delivery of Justice:
Establishment of rule of law so that anarchy can be prevented is another important function of a welfare state. The related agency for this is judiciary which interprets law and punishes the guilty.
2. Optional Functions:
These functions depend upon the will of state. There functions are not essential for the existence or survival of state, but these is necessary for the welfare of common people. These are, therefore, called welfare functions. These are divided into four categories.
(a) Economic Functions: The modern state tries to raise the standard of living of people. It adopts various measures for their rapid economic development. It follows mixed economy. The economic functions are:
(i) The control of industries and management and natioanlisation of basic heavy industries;
(ii) Regulation and control of price, measurement, production, import and export of goods;
(iii) Modernisation of agriculture, land-reform, irrigation, fair prices for agricultural goods and growth of food production;
(iv) Supply of essential commodities at fair prices;
(v) Management of banking, currency and controlling inflation;
(vi) Checking hoarding, black marketing and profiteering;
(vii) Economic planning for balanced economic growth and rational utilization of resources; and
(viii) Protecting workers by prescribing minimum wages, hours of work, bonus, and other working conditions.
(b) Social Functions:
The welfare state performs the following functions for the social development of people.
(i) Taking steps for family planning and welfare, and against dowry, casteism, communalism, prostitution etc.
(ii) Providing security against exploitation of poor and weak, and establishing social harmony;
(iii) Providing social and economic benefits to the weaker sections of society;
(iv) Establishing social equality and social justice and providing social security like old age pension, benefits for disabled and unemployed people;
(v) Providing free and compulsory education and extending financial assistance to educational institutions;
(vi) Providing medical facility, maintaining public health and hygiene, and controlling epidemics like cholera, small-pox, plague etc.
(vii) Maintaining quality of food, and preventing adulteration; and
(viii) Providing social amenities like park, community hall etc.
(c) Cultural Functions:
The welfare state takes interest in the cultural development of people. It performs the following functions in this field.
(i) Introduction of universal compulsory primary education, and supervision of secondary and higher education;
(ii) Encouraging art and literature;
(iii) Encouraging science and technology; and
(iv) Organizing cultural exchange programmes to foster unity among people.
(d) Political Functions:
The welfare states perform the following functions in order to increase the political awareness and political participation of people.
(i) To defend the rights of people;
(ii) To hold free and fair elections;
(iii)To encourage and enable people to take part in the decision-making process;
(iv) To regulate and coordinate the interests and activities of different group associations and political parties; and
(v) To take steps against corruption and dishonesty in public life.
Modern states, in general, are welfare states; they are interested in the welfare people. They seek to promote their development through planning. They lay sped emphasis on some basic fields like education, health and social security.
Though bureaucracy has grown to take up these various works, it is kept under democratic contra A welfare state would not allow people to suffer due to excess of bureaucratic contra Therefore, a welfare state is accepted as an ideal state.