What are the functions of the state? This has been a complex and controversial question since ancient times. All the scholars have tried to decide the functions of the state from their point of view. Different views in this regard are as follows-
(a) Plato and Aristotle
According to Plato and Aristotle, "The state is a moral institution. Its purpose is to make the life of man moral and uplifting. In this view, the function of the state is related to every sphere of human life."
(b) Idealistic theorist
Based on this view, idealist theorists have told the importance of the control of the state while opposing the natural rights of human beings apart from the state. According to Hegel, "The state is moral and divine. The liberty and rights of the individual are vested in the state."
(c) Utilitarian theorist
Utilitarian theorists consider the state as an artificial institution, a means constructed based on utility.
(D) Individualist theorist
Socialist theorists give the right to the state to do all those works, which will lead to the progress of the society and make the life of the individual happy.
The functions of the state can be divided into two parts-
(a) Essential functions of the state
The essential functions of the state are as follows-
1. To protect the country from external attacks
This is the first and foremost task of the state. The state keeps the water, land, and naval forces equipped with modern weapons to achieve this purpose.
2. International Relations
The state appoints its ambassadors and consuls to the countries to accomplish this task. Similarly, it welcomes ambassadors from other states. The state sends its representatives to international events and organisations.
3. Tax Collection
In the absence of funds, the work of the state cannot be run. This money is collected in the form of taxes. Thus, levying and collecting taxes on the subjects is the state's main function.
4. Currency Banking and Currency
If the state does not control the currency, it cannot do its work even for a moment. The state establishes the Reserve Bank to control the country's economic institutions.
5. To discuss the rights and duties of the citizen
The proper fulfilment of democratic principles can be done only when the state determines the civil rights and duties and removes the obstacles to their use.
6. Power setting
Kant envisions the protection of rules and peace in the state as the aims of the state. Those states believe that the purpose of the state is to bring peace and order to society by its rules. Gilchrist believes that according to the individual point of view, the purpose of the state is only to make laws. But some other individualists have included the protection of the society and the establishment of peace in the purpose of the state. Individualists say that the state should not interfere in any work of its citizens except to protect them from internal and external hazards. But this is a narrow idea.
Some theorists say that the aim of the state is justice. This view is generally of idealism. Idealists have considered this the state's main objective, and they have also included the moral concept. According to Heatherington and Moorhead, justice has always been the main objective of the state.
(b) voluntary acts of the state
There are some such actions, which to do or not to do, dependent on the will of the state. In the modern era, the voluntary functions of the state can be divided into the following categories--
1. System of Education
Education is very important for the progress of every state. John Stuart Mill has written very clearly, "The main function of good government is to develop the qualities and abilities of the individuals.
2. Provision of public interest services
Every state makes proper arrangements for railways, telegram, post, wireless, etc. The public does not face traffic difficulties. Management of roads, bridges, shady trees, water bodies and rest houses is also the state's duty.
3. End unemployment
Some people are unemployed in every state. The state should also make arrangements to end this unemployment and provide the means of livelihood to all.
4. Development of industries, commerce, business
The state should make arrangements for big industries. The state should encourage business. The economic system should be such that no one can be exploited.
5. Prevention of social evils
The state should try to remove many old rotten street evils from society.
6. Protecting the old poor, and the helpless
Not every person in the state can work. Many old and helpless people cannot make their living on their own. The state should make arrangements to help them. Proper arrangements should be made for the poor also.
7. Management of Health and Hygiene
It is a sacred duty of the state to manage cleanliness. For this, the state should make laws related to health and sanitation. Proper arrangement of water should be made, dispensaries should be arranged, and roads should be arranged.
8. Development of Agriculture
Every state should contribute to the development of agriculture. Availability of modern scientific means, good management of irrigation etc. are the tasks of the state.
9. Other Social Welfare Works
The state should also make arrangements for other social works like upliftment of women, protection of the health of children, etc., and priority should be given to social welfare work.
10. Consumption of natural resources and protection of historical sites
The state should consume more of its primary sources. The state should protect the historical sites. This place is a symbol of our ancient culture.
11. Use of means of entertainment
Entertainment is very important for a person. For this, the state can get the parks, bathrooms etc. built and can organize exhibitions and fairs etc.
12. Control of narcotics
Intoxicants like alcohol, opium, ganja-cannabis, etc., hinder the path of a person's progress. The state must ban drugs and create a social environment so that people start hating drugs.
13. Protecting the interest of workers
A large number of labourers work in industrial institutions. The state must protect the interests of these workers. The state should make such a law that the working hours, salary, allowances, holidays etc., of the labourers should be fixed to contribute maximum to the state's progress.
The main function of the modern state is to serve its people. Aristotle wrote, "The state is the supreme institution, and its object is the highest good."