ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

Articles By V Sujatha

The Politics of Medicine in a Pandemic

Medical pluralism or the coexistence of several systems of medicine in the public domain has attracted more attention than ever before in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and also generated its fair share of controversies. The acerbic exchanges between the Indian Medical Association, a professional body of biomedical practitioners and, a leading private company selling Ayurvedic products, on the relative efficacy of biomedicine and Ayurveda are illustrative of bringing out certain problems in the response of these medical systems to COVID-19 today.


The Academic Performance Indicators Regime and Its Follies

The University Grants Commission does not seem to view higher education and research as having anything to do with the culture of intellectual activity. Rather it looks at research as a matter of regulation, monitoring and measurement of academic "output". This reflects in the UGC's policy to evolve universal and homogeneous evaluation indices for academic performance where productivity is mistaken for creativity.

The Patient as a Knower: Principle and Practice in Siddha Medicine

The relation between experience and knowledge has been the subject of several debates in the sociology of knowledge, especially with regard to medical knowledge. The disease is experienced by the patient and the physician, who has the knowledge of disease, conducts the diagnoses and provides treatment. This poses two questions: Does the patient, who experiences the disease, have knowledge? Does the physician, who knows the disease and its cure, have recourse to experience? How does epistemology address the relation between the ontology of the patient the layman and the doctor the specialist? After a presentation of the problematic as it reveals itself in the analysis of biomedicine, the paper proceeds, based on fieldwork with siddha practitioners in Tamil Nadu, to examine the siddha medicine approach to these issues.

Medicine, State and Society

The demand for cure and for the care of a growing range of health conditions which elude any particular system of medicine has made pluralism in therapeutic options a way of life. The spread and continuity of indigenous systems of medicines, namely, ayurveda, siddha and unani, have thrown up a lot of concerns as well: how to incorporate these systems into a centralised health infrastructure; their expansion through the pharmaceutical industry for herbal products, massage centres and spas; the relations and negotiations between the practitioners of different coexisting systems of medicine; the position of psychosocial and spiritual dimensions of cure and care in contemporary forms of indigenous systems of medicine and the debate on notions of efficacy in multiple, coherent systems of medicine. All these are worth serious study as they raise fundamental questions not just about isms, but about organising healthcare in India. A framework for the analysis of isms requires not only recognising the presence of diverse medical systems, but engaging with them as live and efficacious traditions. The collection of papers in this special issue attempts to address some of these matters.