Mahadev Govind Ranade, (born Jan. 18, 1842, Niphad [India]—died Jan. 16, 1901, Poona [now Pune], India), one of India’s Citpavan Brahmans of Maharashtra who was a judge of the High Court of Bombay, a noted historian, and an active participant in social and economic reform movements.
During his seven years as a judge in Bombay (now Mumbai), Ranade worked for social reform in the areas of child marriage, widow remarriage, and women’s rights. After his appointment as instructor of history at Elphinstone College, Bombay (1866), he became interested in the history of the Marathas, a militaristic Hindu ethnic group that established the independent kingdom of Maharashtra (1674–1818).
Ranade has been called the father of Indian economics for urging (unsuccessfully) the British government to initiate industrialization and state welfare programs. He was an early member of the Prarthana Samaj (“Prayer Society”), which sought to reform the social customs of orthodox Hinduism. He regularly voiced views on social and economic reform at the annual sessions of the Indian National Social Conference, which he founded in 1887. Ranade inspired many other Indian social reformers, most notably the educator and legislator Gopal Krishna Gokhale, who carried on Ranade’s reform work after his death.The earliest modern social welfare laws were enacted in Germany in the 1880s. As similar programs have been adopted in other countries, the trend has been toward more comprehensive coverage in terms of both eligibility requirements and the nature of the risks insured against. A floor of minimum protection has come to be viewed as one of government’s general responsibilities with respect to specific risks, and in many countries the consensus holds that public responsibility extends to all those unable to care for themselves for whatever reason. In this view social welfare is extended and received as a matter of right rather than of need.
The chief characteristics of a welfare or security program are the risks to be protected against, the population covered, eligibility criteria, levels of benefits, manner of financing, and administrative procedures. All these criteria are subject to wide variation in practice. In particular, eligibility criteria often include a “time-lock,” which requires participation in or coverage by a program for a specified time. Financing is generally accomplished by exacting contributions from covered persons, employers, or both, by the government out of general revenues, or by a combination of the two.