Vulnerability: An article for CMJI

From an article for a special issue of Christian Medical Journal of India on vulnerability published in December 2018 [Download issue here]

The word Vulnerability, like many other words in modern English, comes from late Latin vulnerābilis (wounding) or vulnus (wound), according to Webster’s dictionary. In its current use, the word carries a wider meaning beyond impending physical injury or harm, to include the risk of emotional or psychological trauma. It has been widely used in the context of natural disasters. Sudden and often unforeseen natural calamities put a lot of people at physical, socio-economic, political, psychological and emotional harm. However, vulnerability is not only about large populations and natural disasters; individuals or households too can experience vulnerability due to various psychosocial, familial or other life circumstances. In either case – be it individuals or populations – an experience of vulnerability is almost never exclusively due to the individual’s own choices. A large body of work from social sciences, as well as stories and narratives of people who have dealt with vulnerabilities in their life, demonstrates that this experience is almost never caused in isolation.  Continue reading

Intro to the Indian Constitution

In a journey towards understanding health, healthcare and their distribution, one can rarely stray too far from the social determinants of health. Despite various biomedical, genetic and environmental determinants of people’s health, the underlying modulatory effects that social determinants can have on all other determinants is staggering. And a quest towards understanding social determinants of anything eventually leads to the journey towards unpacking the norms, values, traditions and such that have shaped society. After all, many of these social determinants are deeply rooted within political, social, cultural and various other historical processes that shape a given society/community. A foundational document that shapes India’s political-legal-social tradition is the Constitution. And India’s post-independence history and certainly current events are reason enough to critically understand our Constitution.

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LUKOSIN: A classic “magical” remedy

I got drawn to the magical remedies of AIMIL Pharmaceuticals early last year and had tweeted about some of their products, two of them BGR34 and Lukosin caught my attention, not only because of the flaunting of DRDO’s logo on the website of this private pharmaceutical company (for Lukosin and a modest mention of the know how by CSIR on the former), but also because of the claims made about cure (not treatment) of Vitiligo.  Continue reading

Unwilled journeys

Unwilled journeys

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Sciencing up participation, and participationing science

That health, education and various other public services are distributed unfairly is not new for human societies; the level of unfairness however appears to be on the increase. This is indeed counter-intuitive, given the last few decades’ strides in economic progress and even improved average lifespan and improving access to health globally. Despite widespread feeling that inequalities in health or healthcare distribution is explained by chance or by other proximate explanations such as distance or wealth, the “causes of the causes” are invariably lying within social factors (see my recent TedX talk on health as a matter of chance, or of choice). Continue reading