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Tufts University

Publication Date

Spring 2011

Program Name

India: Health and Human Rights


In the Southeast Asian country of India, the ancient but in some cases still rigidly intact caste system plays a role in determining health status and outcomes for much of its population of over 1.2 billion people.[1] The Comprehensive Rural Health Project, located in Jamkhed in the state of Maharashtra, India, approaches health interventions from a development standpoint, addressing biomedical needs, structural and environmental concerns, and the social and economic determinants of health that impact the lives of over a million villagers in the surrounding area.[2] This independent study project was designed to analyze how the Comprehensive Rural Health Project uses health interventions to address the rigid social injustice of the caste system in order to improve health and development of the population in the area which it serves. This project aimed to make observations and conclusions about how the Comprehensive Rural Health Project fought back against the caste system which had previously been a main factor in the determining the health outcomes for the population by collecting narratives of those involved with the organization as well as those who have been implicated by its actions. This project found that the development work CRHP has focused on in its project villages combats the caste system by addressing the concept economic need as a social equalizer through health interventions, and uses a model in which they use education as reinforcement to make their efforts at social change sustainable, which has served as a more effective model than other vertical programming conducted in other parts of the world with the same health goals. CRHP has done this through horizontal programming following the Maharashtra drought and subsequent famine of the early 1970s, which has had an effect on the implicated population’s views of the caste system, and has resulted in a society that has seen vast social change over the course of the past 41 years that CRHP has been in existence. Further research as a result of this study could be done to look into how using economic need as a social equalizer through health interventions could be used to level power structures that marginalize people in other parts of the world.

[1] “The India Census 2011.” LA Times. 01 April 2011.

[2] “CRHP Mission.” www.jamkhed.org


Asian Studies | Civic and Community Engagement | Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Family, Life Course, and Society | Health Policy | Health Services Research | Inequality and Stratification | Infrastructure | Medicine and Health | Public Health Education and Promotion



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