Sidsel Roalkvam: Health governance in India: Citizenship as situated practice
Published in Global Public Health: An International Journal for Research, Policy and Practice.
Despite the impressive growth of the Indian economy over the past decades, the country struggles to deal with multiple and overlapping forms of inequality. One of the Indian government's main policy responses to this situation has been an increasing engagement with the ‘rights regime’, witnessed by the formulation of a plethora of rights-based laws as policy instruments. Important among these are the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM). Grounded in ethnographic research in Rajasthan focused on the management of maternal and child health under NRHM, this paper demonstrates how women, as mothers and health workers, organise themselves in relation to rights and identities. I argue that the rights of citizenship are not solely contingent upon the existence of legally guaranteed rights but also significantly on the social conditions that make their effective exercise possible. This implies that while citizenship is in one sense a membership status that entails a package of rights, duties, and obligations as well as equality, justice, and autonomy, its development and nature can only be understood through a careful consideration and analysis of contextually specific social conditions.