Social Protection, Economic Growth and Social Change

Social Protection, Economic Growth and Social Change

Goals, Issues and Trajectories in China, India, Brazil and South Africa

Edited by James Midgley and David Piachaud

This highly original and thought-provoking book examines the recent expansion of social protection in China, India, Brazil and South Africa – four countries experiencing rapid economic growth and social change.

Chapter 6: Historical developments and goals of social protection policies in India

Ruth Kattumuri and Manju Singh

Subjects: development studies, development economics, development studies, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, economics of social policy, social policy in emerging countries


The concept of providing for the poor and underprivileged is embedded in Indian culture and philosophy. Understanding its historical perspective is important in order to fully comprehend the nature of social protection in India. This chapter sets out a historical review of various forms of welfare that have contributed towards providing for the needs of people in the country. We attempt to present various concepts of social protection that existed in ancient India from about 3000 BC and begin with an overview of traditions and practices in ancient India spanning the Harappan civilization, the early emperors and some socio-religious institutions. We then present the reforms and the new welfare state approaches prevalent before independence. This is followed by a description of programmes and acts introduced after independence including the five-year plans. The final section discusses evolving growth trends and priorities for social protection in India.

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