A neglected contributor to the country’s crisis of public health

Source: The post is based on an article A neglected contributor to the country’s crisis of public health” published in The Live Mint on 29th August 2022.

Syllabus: GS 2 – Issues related to health

News: This article discusses the reasons and concerns associated with malnutrition in India and poor public health services.

What are the reasons behind the high rates of child malnutrition in India?

The study of recent research has found that it is not poverty but the low social status of women that was responsible for India’s poor record on nutrition.

Studies have highlighted that gender equality plays a significant role in tackling malnutrition.

Why has India failed to improve the basic social and well-being indicators of its population?

Caste system

The dual principles of purity and pollution of caste have very serious implications on public sanitation. A certain caste excluded from society is considered ritually impure, and they are forced into sanitation work.

Therefore, even the most progressive and scientific-minded individuals who are socialized in caste do not define existing manual scavenging in our society as their enemy.

However, due to the lack of mutual trust and fellowship in society, the caste system affects the elite classes also. The elite classes cannot help themselves in bringing sanitation revolution and eliminating communicable diseases, getting open spaces, clean air, etc.

The covid pandemic also made a realization to the elite classes it is impossible to completely insulate themselves from the larger society.

Gender inequality

B.R. Ambedkar argued that control over women was central to maintaining caste purity. Even today, women have limited control over decisions regarding their choices in marriage or childbirth.

Violence against women has taken various forms. Honor killings are equally associated with caste/clan as they are associated with gender.

India has one of the lowest female labor force participation rates in the world. The New York City Board of Health declared racism a ‘public health crisis, and India stands in a similar situation.

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