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

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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.

This collection was consolidated through a workshop titled, The Politics of Medical Pluralism in Contemporary India organised jointly by V Sujatha and Leena Abraham in May 2008 at JNU, New Delhi. We are thankful to the chairpersons and discussants in the workshop who gave valuable comments on the papers presented. We are also thankful to the ICSSR and JNU for funding the workshop.

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