Directions (Q. 1–10): Read the passage carefully and answer the questions given below it. Certain words/ phrases have been given in bold to help you locate them while answering some of the questions.
There has been abundant criticism following the budgetary cuts imposed on social sector programmes in this year’s budget, the most prominent being the 50 per cent drop in the Integrated Child Development (ICDS) programme of the Ministry of Women and Child Development, custodian of underprivileged children, and supposed guardian nutritional wellbeing.
Socialist evangelists have termed this as an attack on the welfare state. Understandable, because both in governmental and non-governmental circles, we continue to have a penchant for measuring commitment to ‘welfare’ through the size of budget allocations and expenditures, rather than proper utilisation of money or achieving outcomes. To what extent these budgetary cuts will be compensated by the tax devolution arithmetic of the 14th Finance Commission is not yet clear.
However, several development experts and practitioners view this new development as the beginning of a much needed transition within the ‘social sectors’ of the government. The government and the people both know that several development programmes have reached a state of diminishing or nil returns. Independent India had no option but to start as a welfare state with a planned economy, to build up its abysmal economic and human capital left behind by British rulers.
The planned economy pursued a vigorous agriculture, industrial and social development agenda. The year 1975 was a watershed year for India’s welfare state — the year of the 5th Five Year Plan, the 20 Point Programme, the Minimum Needs Programme and the ICDS. It was also the year of the (infamous) Emergency, which required parallel populism through the platform of development. Meanwhile, democracy was maturing, welfare delivery systems were being built and peoples’ lives were improving gradually. The welfare state was becoming increasingly popular, as side by side, a rent nexus between the political class, budget handlers, and the implementing machinery had also started evolving, and leakage mechanisms were getting entrenched. Apart from the public good aspect, welfare schemes provided several other advantages: they assuaged the conscience of governments, when acting unethically, or against public or national interest; they provided employment to vast numbers of the semi-literate, low-skilled work force, especially in rural areas, in the form of cooks, helpers, guards, attendants, etc., the closest they could get to a ‘government’ job; they provided opportunity to NGOs, genuine or otherwise, to grow, which also boosted rural employment, etc. Also, higher were the welfare state’s financial allocations for development, the larger became the supervisory governmental machinery, lengthening hierarchies, advancing promotion prospects, deepening leakages, and expanding rental cronyism. Today, almost seven decades after independence, we see the full-blown rental nexus, well past the danger mark, and most welfare programmes and institutions in a state of irretrievable collapse.
A glaring failure of the welfare state has been in improving the nutritional profile of our population, even though health indicators, particularly for women and children, have steadily improv ed during the last decade, as consistently brought out in recent surveys – Sample Registration System-2010, the National Institute of Nutrition Report 26, 2012. One of the reasons for this could be that national health programmes in India have periodically reviewed themselves, and programme gaps if not completely, have been progressively addressed. Similar periodic reviews have not happened within the ICDS or the orphan nutrition sector that still remains without a national programme to address under-nutrition.
Q1. According to the revivalist which of the following is an attack on the welfare state?
1) Premediated economy
2) Percentage drop in women and child development programme
3) Several development programs have reached a state of nil returns.
4) Only 2 and 3
5) Only1 and 3
Q2. Choose the word which is MOST SIMILAR in meaning to the word ‘Abysmal’ as used in the passage.
Q3. Choose the word which is MOST OPPOSITE in meaning of the word ‘penchant’ as used in the passage.
Q4. Choose the word which is MOST SIMILAR in meaning to the word ‘Entrenched’ as used in the passage.
Q5. According to the passage, how can a country become a welfare state?
1) With a profound economy
2) By increasing male and female life expectancy rate
3) Parallel populism through the platform of development
4) Suitable welfare delivery system
5) Other than given options
Q6. Choose the word which is most opposite in meaning of the word ‘irretrievable’ as used in the passage.
Q7. What were the consequences of emerging inter-relations among the governing bodies ?
1) The funds were not reaching at their targets.
2) Expansion of supervisory government machinery
3) Advancing promotion prospects and lengthening hierarchies
4) Expanding patronage
5) All of the above
Q8. Which of the following is contrary to the health indicators of the government?
1) Improvement in nutritional profile of the population
2) No improvement in nutritional profile of the population
3) Improvement in nutritional profile of women and children only
4) Periodic review of health policies.
5) None of the above
Q9. What are the advantages of welfare schemes?
A) Generation of employment for the vulnerable section in rural area
B) Ameliorating the faith of rural population in the government.
C) Providing opportunity to NGOs.
1) Only A
2) Both A and C
3) All A, B and C
4) Both B and C
5) Only B
Q10. Choose the word which is MOST SIMILAR in meaning to the word ‘assuaged’ as used in the passage.
Answers1. 22. 23. 44. 15. 56. 17. 58. 29. 310. 1