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The Paternalistic Play: Familial Roles, Welfare Politics, and Social Evils in India

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Rafia Tasleem
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The Paternalistic Play: Familial Roles, Welfare Politics, and Social Evils in India

On the cusp of the 2023 Madhya Pradesh elections, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has made a significant statement. Emphasizing the importance of familial roles, he declared that the positions of 'mama' (uncle) and 'bhaiya' (brother) are paramount, even surpassing other worldly statuses. This remark illuminates the complex interplay of politics and culture in the electoral landscape of Madhya Pradesh.

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The Paternalistic Political Paradigm

Chouhan's statement is indicative of a broader trend towards a paternalistic model of governance and welfare in India. This approach frames access to basic amenities as either the rights of citizens or as part of the beneficence from a magnanimous leader. The Narendra Modi government's welfare agenda is a prime example of this, stirring a debate on the merits and drawbacks of such a model.

The Welfare Vs. Development Conundrum

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One of the central pillars of this paternalistic model is the emphasis on welfare programs, which has been a key feature of the Modi government's agenda. Programs such as the Ladli Behna Yojana in Madhya Pradesh are representative of this focus. However, alongside the implementation of welfare schemes, it is crucial to address learning outcomes and progress in education. The Female Labour Force Participation Rate in the country further underscores the need for a comprehensive approach to development, beyond welfare initiatives alone.

Addressing the Dowry Menace

Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has highlighted the pressing issue of dowry in Indian society. He called for comprehensive awareness against this menace, emphasizing that laws and affidavits alone won't eradicate the problem. His message underscores the collective responsibility of parents, teachers, and society to foster emotional resilience in girls and educate them about the evils of dowry. The Governor also underscored the need for social sanctions against dowry, adding another layer to the fight against this deeply rooted social evil.

In conclusion, as election season approaches in Madhya Pradesh, the role of welfare-centric politics, the prominence of familial roles in political discourse, and the pressing need for comprehensive social change are all poised to shape the political landscape.

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