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

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Poverty, Health, and Wealth in India

Public Health and Private Wealth: Stem Cells, Surrogates, and Other Strategic Bodies edited by Sarah Hodges and Mohan Rao,New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2016; pp xv + 283, ₹850.

The relationship between poverty and health has historical and contemporary dimensions that concern academics, medical practitioners, activists, and the public at large. In order to understand contemporary dimensions of poverty, we must dig deeper to uncover the historical roots of these problems and the various ways in which the question of poverty has been addressed in specific locales. Across the world, empires have used colonies as sites of experimentation for medical, scientific, and technological projects in the name of reducing poverty. Many development and nation-making projects continue in the paths of earlier technocratic poverty amelioration methods, often with little improvement.

Public Health and Private Wealth: Stem Cells, Surrogates, and Other StrategicBodies, edited by Sarah Hodges and Mohan Rao, critically addresses the techno-scientific methods deployed to reduce poverty and improve health in India. The title of the book, however, is somewhat misleading, since the majority of the chapters focus on historical cases, not on stem cells and surrogacy. Poverty is the main concern of this book—the use of the concept, the work it does, the expert discourse it entails, who or what it empowers, and what it obscures (p 2). The editors note that academic studies have hardly focused solely on these aspects of poverty, except for the limited amount of quantitative data that have been generated by economists and statisticians. One of the aims of the book is to bring in other disciplinary frameworks for studying and understanding poverty. This volume explores how issues of poverty are interlinked with scientific projects that sought to tackle the problem in various ways across different periods in India, from colonial times to the post-liberalisation era. The editors question why current policymakers in India are not as concerned with the question of poverty as they were in the past. Today, many projects meant to improve healthcare in India have fed into the commercialisation and privatisation of the healthcare system. There has been little increase in government spending on public healthcare, while the private healthcare industry is one of the fastest growing segments of the Indian economy.

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Updated On : 22nd Oct, 2018

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