Health Inequity and Democratic Deficit: Learning by India from India

Guest lecture by Dr. Manabi Majumdar, Fellow in Political Science at the Centre for Studies in Social Sciences, Kolkata.


Taking a socio-political rather than strictly biomedical view of health, this paper examines why for many people in India, keeping well and healthy, which is a central human capability, remains seriously compromised. It focuses on a host of social conditions that produce poor health as well as health inequity, and on the lack of adequate social and policy action to combat these social causes of ill health. India, however, is ‘differentially unequal' in terms of basic health parameters. Put differently, there are areas in the country in which health inequalities between social groups and economic classes are comparatively less acute than what obtains elsewhere. There is a lot India can learn about health from within India. This also implicitly suggests the critical importance of committed social and policy action in improving the reach of healthcare as well as reducing social disparities in health. Above all, the rather unenthusiastic public discussion and action regarding key health issues appears to be a symptom of the country's democratic deficit.