Sunil S. Amrith
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Health in India since independence
in History, historians and development policy

This chapter shows that a history of underinvestment and poor health infrastructure in the colonial period continued to shape the conditions of possibility for health policy in India after independence. A historical perspective on India's political transition to independence, in particular the period between 1945 and the early 1950s, suggests that the languages of politics forged at these moments of transformation can have lasting effects. The chapter argues that attention to the ethical and intellectual origins of the Indian state's founding commitment to improve public health are worthy of attention, and indeed that these moral and political arguments continue to shape a sense of the possible in public health. If the institutional legacy of colonialism was to constrain the public health apparatus of India, the ideological legacy was the rise, perhaps unintended, of the notion that the state would and could intervene to prevent certain kinds of suffering.

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