ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Social Welfare Laws and Federalism

Rights-based welfare legislation, even if passed by the union government, needs implementation at the state level. State governments are not passive implementation agencies and have sometimes stymied the effective implementation of such laws. Three recent examples show the need to better imagine social welfare laws within the context of a federal framework to ensure effective implementation.

During 200414, when the United Progressive Alliance government was in office at the union level, a whole host of legislation were introduced to meet the social welfare goals (Nilsen 2018). Some of them came into immediate effectthe Hindu Succession (Amendment) Act (HSAA), 2006 which granted coparcenary rights to daughters of Hindu landowners, at par with their brothers. Others, such as the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act (FRA), 2006 relied on the state and local authorities for effective implementation of the law. A third category of laws, such as the Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RCFCE) Act, 2009 requires both the union and states to work in parallel to implement the legislation within their respective fields.

The latter two categories acknowledge Indias federal structure where both the union and state governments draw legislative and executive powers from the Constitution and are considered sovereign in their own fields of legislation.1 The union government does not have the resources to be able to reach every corner of the country and relying on the state governments for effective implementation makes eminent sense. However, this has also meant that the implementation of these vital social welfare laws has been uneven across the country and in some cases, state governments have actively attempted to nullify them.

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Published On : 20th Jan, 2024

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