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In India, several mechanisms exist to provide economic and social safety nets to the economically and socially vulnerable groups. In broad terms, they are achieved through a formal or informal social security system that ensures equitable justice in society (Heller, 2003). This notion of the safety net enabled all societies to go in for the social security system. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has defined social security as ‘the protection which society provides for its members, through a series of public measures, against economic and social distress otherwise caused by the stoppage or substantial reduction of earnings resulting from sickness, maternity, employment injury, unemployment, invalidity, old age and death’ (ILO, 1942). Sir William Beveridge, father of the British social security system, defined it as, ‘security of an income to take the place of earning when they are interrupted by unemployment, sickness, or accident; to provide retirement benefits, to provide against loss of support by the death of the other person and to meet exceptional expenditure such as those connected with birth, death and marriage’ (Beveridge, 1943). According to Pierre Laroque, former president of the National Social Security Fund in France, social security represents ‘a guarantee by the whole community to all its members of the maintenance of their standard of living or at least tolerant living conditions by means of a redistribution of income based on national solidarity’ (Laroque, 1969). Leal de Araujo has viewed social security systems as ‘supplementary machineries or economic agents for redistribution of income’ (de Araujo, 1972).
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