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Back | Programme Area: Social Policy and Development

Rights-Based Social Protection: From Rhetoric to Reality? New Directions in Social Policy in India


Rights-Based Social Protection: From Rhetoric to Reality? New Directions in Social Policy in India
India stands out among countries with comparable levels of economic development for its rights-based social policies. But rights on paper do not always translate into rights in reality. This case study investigates the genesis of India’s rights-based social policy legislation, its ramifications in the areas of primary education, public health care and income security, and the factors that have contributed to the success or difficulties of implementation.

Various gradual transformations have contributed to the emergence of a new welfare regime in India since the beginning of the 21st century. India’s Supreme Court has issued rulings that tie the realization of the fundamental right to life established by the 1950 Constitution to ensuring that the basic socioeconomic needs of disempowered groups are met, going back as far as the late 1970s. More recently a series of rights-based mobilizations by grassroots movements and non-governmental organizations have encouraged public interest litigation seeking to advance the cause of minority or disadvantaged groups or individuals, and the growing political power of new regional parties has also contributed to greater political representation, dignity and self-esteem for historically subordinate groups.

UNRISD Project Briefs pose questions, flag ideas and contribute knowledge that can improve the quality of development debates, policy and practice. They provide a concise summary of an UNRISD research project, situating it within wider social development debates; outlining its focus, objectives and methodology; and highlighting interim findings.
  • Publication and ordering details
  • Pub. Date: 19 May 2017
    Pub. Place: Geneva
    ISSN: 2309-0561
    From: UNRISD