Merit, privilege & public health/policy

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Over the past several years, watching raging social media debates and the shaping of merit in public discourse in India spurred this editorial on merit in public health/policy that appeared in BMJ Global Health as an editorial on August 6, 2021. Many thanks to Seye Abimbola, the journal’s Editor-in-Chief for his comments. As noted in the acknowledgements, a lot of internal reflection and churning from various life events, many of them not necessarily pleasant have shaped this editorial.

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Open letter to President Kovind

APJ Abdul Kalam as then President of India amidst Adivasi children at BR Hills on October 15, 2006 after his talk at VGKK tribal residential school campus in sharp contrast to President Kovind’s visit on October 7, 2021

Dear Mr President,

It was another October in the year 2006, when a vehicle bearing the national emblem instead of a license plate (as is the norm for vehicles transporting the President) stopped at B R Hills in Chamarajanagar district of southern Karnataka. It was an exciting time for the Solega people who were among those who welcomed him. And why not? It was after all their lands and forests that the (then) President was visiting, and it was with pride and anticipation that they received President Kalam. School girls from Vivekananda Girijana Kalyana Kendra (VGKK) school welcomed him. In complete breach of the blue book which is prescriptive of protocols and behaviours during Presidential visit replete with colonial referencing to visits by (then) royalty, President Kalam insisted on going everywhere that the local district administration had forbidden. He met patients at the tribal hospital that he inaugurated, shared thoughts in his speech on his vision for rural and remote areas, and later on hugged and was hugged by scores of Solega Adivasi children. As a doctor at the hospital, I watched in awe as he demonstrated his familiarity with the name of the local Adivasi community and asked me about the status of Sickle Cell Disease (known to be prevalent among several of these communities). He even naively promised that in a decade genetic engineering would find a treatment for it (which is not yet the case).

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Social embellish

Whose son you are

Whose you’re not

Daughter not by any

Coupling double Xs

The neighbourhood, The house

the hand that rocked the cradle

the hand that didn’t

love that wasn’t

The unfair social embellish

Over one’s random gene bounty

For one brings luck

For another just muck

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Corona Maari/ಕೊರೊನ ಮಾರಿ

ಚೀನಾದಿಂದ ಎಲ್ಲ ದೇಶಕೂ

ಬಂದೇ ಬಿಡ್ತು ಕೊರೊನ ಮಾರಿ

ಎಲ್ಲ ಮಾಯಾ ನಾಳೆ ನಾವೂ ಮಾಯಾ

ಎಲ್ಲ ಮಾಯಾ ನಾಳೆ ನೀವೂ ಮಾಯಾ

BASAVARAJU, A SOLIGA/ADIVASI POET & THEATRE ARTIST FROM YERAKANA GADDE, BR HILLS
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Patient rights in India

Struggle for patient rights in India is/has largely been led by patient groups and social movements. In addition to the wider power gap between patients and providers, the Indian patient rights situation is aggravated by existing social inequalities including caste, gender, socio-economic position, disability and several other axes of inequities. One of my PhD students is examining patient rights from a governance lens. In this paper that we published a synthesis of literature including Supreme Court judgements in the journal Health Policy & Planning.

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