Magazine 2014
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
Sharmila Jajodia  
This paper is directed to explicate social (in)security in India and the need to reconsider the prevailing  
social security as Indian society has come a long way from agricultural society to industrial society and  
now a technologically advanced society where from extended and large joint family system to nuclear  
family and now single parent family has been the reality. India is also facing some type of threats either  
due to internal or external conflicts almost everyday in one or the other form at familial and social level,  
so social security has become the need of the hour. Social security is not a recently originated concept  
in India. It has existed in every society. But with changing Indian social scenario, it is unavoidable to  
continue with the prevailing social security. In the light of the above said observations, the paper tries to  
understand the concept of social security, its various strategies, schemes and the requirement to reflect  
on it to do something concrete in this direction to do justice with the Indian society with respect to the  
global and local transformations taking place at a rapid pace. Besides the paper also tries to explore the  
possibilities for the marginalized section of society –disabled and women as far as social security is  
Keywords : Social security, contemporary Indian society, global and local transformations  
Every human being in general is dependent on others in society in day to day life besides when one is  
a child or an old person but marginalized sections - pregnant woman, sick and disabled in particular  
need special assistance from others for fulfillment of their basic needs otherwise too. All healthy and  
young person help others when they are able-bodied so they owe a debt from society when they  
become aged, helpless, invalid or disabled and then it is essential on the part of society to provide  
help to them when they are in need indeed. Therefore, social security is not a recent concept rather it  
exists in almost every society in one or other form. When a society guarantees help and assistance to  
those who are temporarily or permanently incapacitated, it is known as social security. It is difficult to  
define the concept of social security as it is looked at differently by people belonging to different strata,  
sectors and nations and there is no universally accepted broad definition.  
International Labour Organisation defines social security as “the security that society furnishes through  
appropriate organization against certain risks to which its members are exposed.”  
According to Sir William Beveridge, “Social security is an attack on five giants namely, Want, Disease,  
Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness.” (In 1942 Sir Beveridge prepared a detailed plan on social security  
which is known as Beveridge Plan 1942)  
First International Seminar on Social Security opines thus: Each country must create, conserve and  
build up the intellectual, moral and physical vigour of its active generation, prepare the way for its  
future generations and support the generation which has been discharged from productive life. The  
social security is a genuine and rational economy of human resources and values.  
Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that, “Everyone as a member of society,  
has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international  
cooperation and in accordance with the organization and resources of the each state, of the economic,  
social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality”  
UN, 1948)  
Thus social security is a planned commitment of a society to relieve the discomforts of every generation  
and each section of society. Social security is exclusively operated by government and its benefits are  
allowed strictly on the basis of needs of an individual or a family. It ensures peaceful and harmonious  
life to the society in general as it provides protection against socially recognized conditions including  
childhood, poverty, old age, widowhood, disability, unemployment and other risks such as - protracted  
illness, pregnancy and child birth, accident and incapacitation due to disease, shock (trauma)or  
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
accident, death when individual is unable to take care of his/her own needs and that of the family  
members be it physical, social, psychological and financial. It also refers to basic security providing  
access to basic necessities-food, clothing, shelter, education, medical care etc., and services provided  
by administration responsible for social security. It includes maintenance of income in case of interruption  
of employment on retirement, disability and unemployment and social insurance when people receive  
benefit or services in recognition of contributions to an insurance scheme such as- retirement pensions,  
disability insurance, survivor benefits and unemployment insurance. Thus social security protects not  
just the subscriber but also his/her entire family by giving benefit packages in financial security and  
health care when an earning member either retires, dies or suffers a disability. These schemes designed  
to guarantee at least long term sustenance act as a facilitator as it helps people to plan their own future  
through insurance and assistance. In other words, social security provides protection and promotion.  
The aim of protection is to prevent decline in living standard while of promotion to raise the general  
living standard and to expand the basic capabilities of the population.  
Social security in India has been prevailing informally as in joint family the social security needs of all  
the members are taken care of owing to the cultural traditions and a sense of shared responsibilities  
towards them especially the aged, invalid or widow provided the family has resources. However, the  
scenario has changed a lot due to increased migration, urbanization, demographic changes, besides  
the transition from agricultural economy to industrial economy and the extended large family system  
to nuclear family system. Lately, there are innumerable factors which contribute to social insecurity in  
knowledge based economy, globalized , sci-tech advanced society with emerging single parent family  
structure, such as -internal and external conflicts, terrorist attacks, physical and psychological abuse,  
domestic violence happening anytime and anywhere to anyone, government transport- road, rail and  
airways being prone to accidents due to negligence; individuals too being stressed, frustrated and  
undisciplined harm directly or indirectly. Therefore the formal system of social security has become  
the need of the hour and has gained national importance.  
Review of Literature  
In fact about 80 % of the global population live in conditions of social insecurity i.e. they have no  
access to formal security beyond the limited possibilities of depending on their families, kinship groups  
or friends. Among these 80 percent, 20% live in abject poverty- the cruelest form of insecurity. India is  
the second most populous country in the world. People are desperately poor as one quarter of world’s  
malnourished live in India. The social security in a large and diverse country like India is bound to be  
complex despite a long tradition of informal social security as India is a relationship based society still  
it is trying to come to terms with social changes through a rule based system. (Bagchi & Gope, 2012)  
i) To understand the prevailing social security in India and find out how and why the need to reconsider  
it has arisen.  
ii) To analyse the various strategies, schemes with respect to the global and local transformations  
taking place at a rapid pace.  
iii) To explore the possibilities of social security for the marginalized section of society especially  
disabled and women and to reflect who is responsible for it –government or individual/ society or  
Sources of Data Collection  
To achieve the above said objective, the research method mainly used is library study. The study is  
purely based on the secondary data collected from books, journals, magazines, newspapers and  
Limitations of the Study  
This study is made only in relation with secondary data available from various library resources.  
Findings and Discussion  
Indian society has come a long way from agricultural society to industrial society and now a  
technologically advanced knowledge based society where from extended and large joint family system  
to nuclear family has been existent and now single parent family is the reality too. India is also facing  
some type of threats either due to internal or external conflicts almost every day in one or the other  
form at familial and social level, so social security has become the need of the hour. Social security is  
not a novel concept in India too but with changing Indian social scenario, it is unavoidable to continue  
with the prevailing social security.  
International Peer-Reviewed Journal  
The article 43 of the constitution of India speaks of state’s responsibility to provide social security to the  
citizens of this country. Therefore social security strategies in practice include- social insurance with  
the participation of the beneficiary pooling risks and resources; social assistance financed from general  
revenues and granting benefits on the basis of means test; employers liability schemes where there is  
an identifiable employer and within the economic capacity of the employer; national provident funds;  
universal schemes for social security which act as preventive, promotional and protective schemes.  
But in the beginning social security benefits had been mostly extended only to working population in  
the organized sectors. The organized sector chiefly includes those establishments which are covered  
by the Factories Act, 1948; the Shops and Commercial Establishment Acts of State Governments, the  
Industrial Employment Standing Orders Act, 1946 etc. through legislations like- Employees State  
Insurance Act 1948; Workmen’s Compensation Act 1923; Employees Provident Fund and miscellaneous  
Provisions Acts 1952; Payment of Gratuity Act 1972; Maternity Benefits Act 1976.  
But the unorganized sector was not covered by the labour law as it has seasonal and temporary nature  
of occupations, high labour mobility, dispersed functioning of operations, casualization of labour, lack  
of organizational support, low bargaining power, etc. In rural sectors it includes landless agricultural  
labourers, small and marginal farmers, share croppers, forest workers, rural artisans; person engaged  
in bee-keeping, animal husbandry, fishing, horticulture, toddy tapping etc. whereas in the urban areas,  
it includes primarily manual labourers in construction, carpentry, trade, transport, communication etc.  
and also includes street vendors, hawkers, head load workers, cobblers, tin smiths, garment makers  
etc. . Thus the workforce in the unorganized sector is more prone to socio-economic hardships and  
the social insecurity prevails due to many reasons and so the social security benefits are immensely  
needed.A few examples from informal unorganized sector tell the sad stories and poor plight of the  
neglected work force especially women who enter to work force to improve the living conditions. “We  
toil from early morning to late at night, on our feet and even then we don’t have enough to feed our  
bellies”, says 70 years old Karimabibi, a home based worker from Ahmedabad. The women workers  
who are agarbatti/incense stick rollers end up being cheated as sometimes they don’t get enough  
mixture, the employers keep shifting the factories or they experience non-payment of minimum wages  
or delayed payment of wages. Child labour is rampant in this field. Rehanabi of Ahmedabad observes,  
she has stitched petticoat, made rachis and kite strings. Her four daughters are also engaged in the  
same work but for any kind of credit they depend on relatives.’ The women in varied informal sectors  
suffer from various diseases due to inadequate basic facilities, lack of sanitation and hygiene and  
But ironically, the more than 92% workforce in the informal sector which contribute more than 60%  
GDP is largely unrecorded and has been neglected in this regard in the last so many years. Of late the  
issue of providing social security to the growing segment of unorganized sector became a significant  
part of development related deliberation in India. Therefore Government of India has made various  
efforts in this direction and managed to get The Unorganized Workers Social Security Bill passed in  
the Lok Sabha on 18 December 2008. The then Labour Minister Oscar Fernandes termed the Bill as  
the “first step in 60 years to remove difficulties of the poor.” The bill provides for various welfare schemes  
like health insurance, group accident benefits, saving-cum-relief scheme and family and old-age benefit  
schemes. Government has decided to set up a ‘National Social Security Fund’ with an initial allocation  
of Rs 1000 crore, besides extending the benefits of Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojana (RSBY) scheme  
to NREGA beneficiaries who have worked for more than 15 days during the preceding financial year as  
a follow up to the unorganised Sector Workers Social Security Act, 2008. The scheme provides health  
insurance cover to BPL workers and their families and so far more than one crore smart cards have  
been issued under this scheme. The security fund will support schemes for weavers, toddy tappers,  
rickshaw pullers, bidi workers and other such workers.  
The social security programmes for disabled are reservation in services, concession in employment,  
disability pension, special school for children, specific assistance programmes but these benefits are  
not comprehensive and don’t cover all. What about those disabled who are unemployable-either widows,  
aged, even adult or children dependent on others?  
There are various social security programmes for senior citizens/ageing population such as Maintenance  
from their financially independent sons/ daughters, concessions in rail or air travel fare, National Old  
Age Pension Scheme; concessions to NGOs, SHGs for constructing Old Age Homes or multi service  
centre, Under Annapurna scheme free food grains (Wheat/ rice) up to 10 kg to destitute older; income  
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tax rebate, separate queue or counters for - filing IT Returns; registration and examination in hospitals,  
paying utility bills, for booking/purchasing or cancellation of tickets; telephone connections to elderly  
on priority basis, ensure speedy disposal of court cases involving older persons. The government has  
even started programmes for poor children such Midday Meal Scheme, Right to Education etc.; for  
women prenatal care, free education to girl child, reservation in services, widow pension scheme etc.  
Although Government has provided various schemes for all vulnerable groups up to some extent on  
paper, yet the implementation takes too much time and it has not been qualitatively implemented  
mostly due to one or other reason. Technical aspects/ formalities are too complicated and time  
consuming so social security doesn’t reach the needy in time; loopholes / ambiguities in laws also  
become obstacle in the way of the victims/ deserving persons. The major problem in social security  
system in India is multiple schemes and programs at central and state level; they do not conform to  
any overall design nor do they represent any uniform policy or plan. We do not have an existing  
universal security system and we do not face the problem of exit rate from the workplace being higher  
than the replacement rate. Rather on the contrary lack of employment opportunities is the key concern.  
Social security is becoming a vital component of social policy in India and the present demand is to  
reflect on the ever increasing social security needs of the population. There are diversified views on  
extension of social security coverage. Some say it should be limited only to working population and  
their families and while others say that the entire population should be covered under social security  
Even in Arthasastra (1.19.34) it is said: “In the happiness of the subjects lies the happiness of the king;  
in the welfare of the subjects is the welfare of the king; not his personal desire and ambitions, but what  
is desirable and beneficial to the subjects, that is desirable and beneficial for the king.”  
Suggestions and Conclusion: The government needs to provide social security not only in financial  
terms but overall security be it -physical, psychological, sociological and environmental security to all  
vulnerable groups and to every one for inclusive economic growth as social security is a genuine and  
rational economy of human resources and values.  
Therefore Indian government need to make optimum utilization of resources for it budding generation  
by providing them nutritious food, healthy environment at social front, building homes for the old,  
helpless, disabled women and children. But for this, not only government/administration is to be held  
responsible, we as an individual and society need to be as much responsible and honest in discharging  
our duties at every front as much as we expect from the government , being the part and parcel of  
democratic system.  
Bhuimali, Anil(2011). Ageing Population and Social Security System: Global Scenario with Special  
Reference to India. Serial Publications. New Delhi. Print.  
Bagchi, K. K & Gope, Nirupam (2012). Social Security for Unorganised Workers in India: Issues and  
Concerns. Madhav Books. Gurgaon. Print.  
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Ms. Sharmila Jagodia : Assistant Professor, Department of English, Ramnarain Jhunjhunwala College,