Reflections on discrimination and health in India

R Srivatsan

Abstract

This is a speculative paper on the structure of caste-based discrimination in India.

It sketches the field by a) proposing four empirical and historical examples of discrimination in different medical situations; b) suggesting an analytical framework composed of domain, register, temporality and intensity of discrimination;

c) proposing that in the Indian historical context, discrimination masks itself, hiding its character behind the veneer of secular ideas; d) arguing that discrimination is not some unfortunate residue of backwardness in modern society that will go away, but is the force of social hierarchy transforming itself into a fully modern capitalist culture. The paper then arrives at the understanding that discrimination is pandemic across India. The conclusion suggests that in India today, we need proposals, hypotheses and arguments that help us establish the ethical framework for meaningful empirical research that sociological studies of medical ethics and the epidemiology of discrimination can pursue.

Its method is that of logical and speculative argument based on experience, with examples of different forms of discrimination to clarify the point being made.

No specific research was undertaken for this purpose since the paper is not empirically based.     

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