A good indicator of how good a government is is its governing policies. Political parties, while campaigning, in their manifesto, seek to provide voters with a glimpse of what their policies would look like. The governing policies of a good government would align with the welfare of the country and its citizens. Keeping this in mind, a feature of the Irish Constitution, the Directive Principles of Social Policy was included in the Constitution of India as the Directive Principles of State Policy (DPSP) by its framers. They are guidelines for the government to help shape their policies. These directives, however, are not justiciable in court and thus, not binding in the government. The rationale behind this is that people will not want governing policies that are not in accordance with the directives, and thus, vote it out of power.
What are DPSPs?
Articles 36-51 in part IV of the Constitution, contains the DPSPs.
- Article 37 makes it manifest that the courts do not have powers to enforce these principles.
- Article 38 wants the State to promote the welfare of the people by securing a social balance.
- Article 39 contains six directives related to the economic wellbeing of the citizens.
Ensuring that the people have proper means of livelihood, distributing material community resources for its common benefit, avoiding the concentration of wealth, ensuring that people doing equal work are paid equally, looking after the health of the workers, and protecting children from being exploited.
- Article 39 A provides that the State must ensure that everyone gets equal justice and in furtherance of this principle, offer free legal aid to the underprivileged.
- Article 40 supports setting up village panchayats and giving them powers to make the units of self-government.
- Article 41 instructs the State to secure the right to education, work and in some cases, public assistance.
- Article 42 contains a provision for the proper treatment of workers by the employers and maternity relief.
- Article 43 requires that the State ensure decent work conditions for workers and also promote cottage industries.
- Article 43 A provides that workers be allowed to participate in the management of the industries they work in.
- Article 44 directs the State to create a Uniform Civil Code for the country.
- Article 45 requires education to be made compulsory and free for children.
- Article 46 directs the State to take care of the educational and economic interests of the underprivileged sections of the society.
- Article 47 is related to public health. It directs the State to ensure that the standard of living of the public is improved along with the level of nutrition.
- Article 48 directs the State to organise the agriculture and animal husbandry industry.
- Article 48 A directs the State to protect the environment and safeguard the country’s forest and wildlife.
- Article 49 requires that the State protect historical monuments and other important monuments.
- Article 50 directs the State to ensure that the judiciary is separated from the executive.
- Article 51 directs the State to promote peace and security globally.
Progress in their implementation so far
The implementation of these principles is very important as they seek to promote the welfare of the citizens of the country. The country is nearing its seventy-fifth year of independence and thus it would be reasonable to expect that these directives have been implemented by now. However, this is not the case. Although the policies of most governments that India has had have been somewhat in accordance with these principles, there have been other policies that seem to go against them.
Progress, most notably, has been made in the fields of education, employment security, agriculture and industry, and health.
The Constitution (Eighty-sixth Amendment) Act 2002 added Article 21 A to the Constitution, making education, a fundamental right of children. The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act 2009, in furtherance of this right, provides that all children aged between six and fourteen have a right to complete elementary education in a neighbourhood school.
The right to livelihood is enshrined in the Constitution under Article 21, which covers the right to life. The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 was enacted in furtherance of this right. It intends that a minimum of hundred days of employment is provided for people in rural areas of India.
Equal Remuneration Act 1976, in Section 4, provided that men and women with the same amount of work and working for the same employer be paid equally. This law was repealed in 2019 and replaced by Code on Wages 2019, Section 3 of which provided for the same.
Protection against being exploited is a fundamental right of children under Article 24 of the Constitution. It prohibits the employment of children aged under fourteen in any hazardous environment, including mines and factories. There are several laws enacted in furtherance of this principle such as, the Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act of 1986 which criminalises employing children aged 14 years or lower in hazardous occupations listed in the law, the Mines Act of 1952 which criminalises employing of children aged under 18 years in mines, the Factories Act of 1948 which criminalises keeping of children aged under 14 years for work in factories and places rules on employing of children aged between 15 and 18 in factories, the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act of 2000 which criminalises procuring or employing a child for any hazardous work. It also prohibits employing children in bondage.
In furtherance of the principle enshrined in Article 39-A, the Legal Services Authorities Act 1987 which provides for free and competent legal aid to the underprivileged sections of the society.
The Constitution (Seventy-Third Amendment) Act 1992, was passed, which inserted a whole new part to the Constitution: Part IX which dealt with the panchayats. Following this, the states and Union territories enacted laws relating to this system. At the central level, a separate Ministry of Panchayat Raj was created in 2004 to look into all matters about the Panchayat Raj and related institutions.
In furtherance of the principle laid down in Article 47, laws such as the National Food Security Act 2013 were enacted to eliminate hunger and malnutrition in the country. Schemes such as the National Programme of Nutritional Support to Primary Education 1995 and the Mid-Day Meal Scheme launched in 2001 sought to provide nutritious food for school-going children. The purpose of all laws is to raise the standard of living of people, whether directly or indirectly.
Regarding Article 48-A, there is a slew of environmental laws such as the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010, the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974, the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981, Wildlife Protection Act 1972, the Environment Protection Act, 1986, andthe Hazardous Waste Management Regulations.
The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act 1958, makes provision for the conservation of important historical monuments. There is also the Archaeological Survey of India which is a part of the Ministry of Culture, Government of India for archaeological research and conservation of monuments.
The directive principles of state policy have always influenced government policymaking. Since they aim to promote the welfare of the citizens, no government could ignore them. Their implementation, however, isn’t complete. While, over almost seventy-five years, the various governments have enacted several laws in furtherance of some these principles, others such as the creation of a uniform civil code and prevention of concentration of wealth are yet to be realised. Thus, the vision of the constitution-makers, of making India a welfare state is yet to become a reality.
 Constitution of India, Part IV, Articles 36-51.
 Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005
 Equal Remuneration Act 1976, Section 4.
 Code on Wages 2019, Section 3.
 Constitution of India, Part II, Article 24
 Child Labour (Prohibition and Regulation) Act 1986, Section 3.
 Mines Act 1952, Section 40
 Factories Act 1948, Chapter VII
 Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) of Children Act 2000, Section 26.