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Political Culture of Health in India

This paper provides a historical perspective on the political culture of public health in India. It examines the genesis of the state's commitment to provide for the health of the people, but argues that in that original commitment lay numerous contradictions and fractures that help to explain the state's relative ineffectiveness in the field of public health. It argues that the nationalist movement's initial commitment to the state provision of welfare arose from a complex combination of motives - a concern with democracy and equity as well as concerns about the "quality" and "quantity" of population. The depth of ambition for public health was unmatched by infrastructure and resources; as a result, the state relied heavily on narrowly targeted, techno-centric programmes assisted by foreign aid. The paper also examines the malaria eradication programme as a case study which reveals the limitations and weaknesses of that approach; the ultimate failure of malaria eradication left a huge dent in the state's commitment to public health.
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