This is the fourth episode of the podcast "Becoming Modern: Healthcare and History in India". We talk about the idea that governments can and should work towards improving public health and providing healthcare-related services for the public. While such a concept of state responsibility towards public health is very common and naturalized today (and absolutely important), it is a relatively modern concept in a historical sense, and it began to be applied on a large scale starting in the nineteenth century. In this episode, we look at how this concept played out in British colonial India. We discuss smallpox immunisation campaigns of the early 1800s, the Age of Consent Act of the late 1800s, and the establishment of psychiatric hospitals in the mid-1800s. We also discuss the ideas of racial hierarchy and of the "civilizing mission" which prominently featured in the rhetoric around the public health interventions of the colonial state.
This episode is hosted by Kiran Kumbhar and features the historians Sanjoy Bhattacharya, Ranjana Saha, and Shilpi Rajpal. Bhattacharya is a Professor at the University of Leeds, Saha is a postdoctoral fellow at the Manipal Centre for Humanities, Rajpal is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Copenhagen, and Kumbhar is a postdoctoral fellow at Yale University.
The audio excerpts used in this episode were accessed from YouTube: Donate Eyes - "Hindi Aishwarya Rai Bachchan Old Indian Doordarshan Ad" (here), "Jasoos Vijay - 3rd Season" (here), "THE CHILD Stop Smoking Commercials" (here), and "Dara Singh- Sunday ho ya monday eggs" (here). The featured song "Karun Kya Aas Nirash Bhai" was sung by KL Saigal, composed by Pankaj Mullick, and is from the 1939 film "Dushman".
Book "Fractured States: Smallpox, Public Health and Vaccination Policy in British India 1800-1947" by Sanjoy Bhattacharya, Mark Harrison, and Michael Worboys
Book "Health, Civilization and the State: A History of Public Health from Ancient to Modern Times" by Dorothy Porter
Article "Political Culture of Health in India: A Historical Perspective" by Sunil Amrith
Book "Society, Medicine and Politics in Colonial India" edited by Biswamoy Pati and Mark Harrison
Book "Imperial Power and Popular Politics: Class, Resistance and the State in India, 1850-1950" by Rajnarayan Chandavarkar
Article "Śītalā: The Cool One" by Susan Wadley
Book "Colonizing the Body State Medicine and Epidemic Disease in Nineteenth-Century India" by David Arnold
Video explainer on the Age of Consent Act 1891 on The Swaddle channel, featuring Tanika Sarkar
Book "Vice in the Barracks: Medicine, the Military and the Making of Colonial India, 1780-1868" by Erica Wald
Article on the Epidemic Diseases Act by Kiran Kumbhar
Article "Infant Feeding: Child Marriage And 'immature Maternity' In Colonial Bengal, 1890s-1920s" by Ranjana Saha
Article "Phulmoni's body: the autopsy, the inquest and the humanitarian narrative on child rape in India" by Ishita Pande
Article on the 1835-established Medical College of Calcutta by Kiran Kumbhar
Book "Curing Madness?: A Social and Cultural History of Insanity in Colonial North India, 1800-1950s" by Shilpi Rajpal
Book "Mad Tales from the Raj: Colonial Psychiatry in South Asia, 1800-58" by Waltraud Ernst
Video which briefly discusses major aspects of the nineteenth century history of psychiatry in Europe and North America
Video presentation "Sati and Britain's "Civilizing Mission" in India" by Vinay Lal
Article "The Politics of Gender and Medicine in Colonial India: The Countess of Dufferin's Fund, 1885-1888" by Maneesha Lal
Article “Feminising Empire: The Association of Medical Women in India and the Campaign to Found a Women's Medical Service” by Samiksha Sehrawat
Video copy of the 1939 film Dushman
Article "Universal Health Care: The Affordable Dream" by Amartya Sen