As a public health enthusiast and as someone who is passionate about making everyone healthy in best possible ways, I keep on reading accounts through books, research papers, articles and also acquaint myself by watching youtube videos. These things make me so grateful for the people who shared all these stuff. Sharing is akin to living in larger scheme of things. The idea behind this post is however different.
In all the accounts, the detailed ones, especially the books that I have read it bewilders me when I read about deep rooted superstitions in the villages of India and their manifestations in their own community. "Keeping slipper beside the head of the new-born to ward off evil spirits", "Not breastfeeding the new-born for three days and using cotton wick to feed goat milk instead", "not sitting beside the women of low caste", "not getting treated from ANM if she is from lower caste" and the likes. And mind it, these are the ones that I have only read accounts of, there must be many implicit discriminations and superstitions ingrained deep in their community. The interesting and the difficult-to-believe thing is that things like these can pose to be a great deterrent to the application of health practices to improve the health of the public. People have to be made to understand that being healthy is more important than caste battles. But more than that important is to devise programs of health in a village in such a way that caste barriers melt away on their own without much hard-work. Health is simply not prevention and curing, at it seems to us so called intelligent people well trained in good schools and working in big corporates. Health is much more. One issue in health is accessibility and acceptance. Even when there is health facility, people will raise barriers, suspicion and in some cases outright denial out of their ignorance and beliefs. The people like us would disregard them as "horrific" and "unacceptable" but deep study into it would reveal that if one has to work to create some meaning he has to shed his modern and urban knowledge and mix with community and make them knowledgeable in smart ways. Thus, health is certainly not prescription and medication. Health is a bigger enterprise. What we see in cities clouds our imagination of realities and real issues of this broader framework of health. This was my first lesson.
My second lesson, and it rightly comes at such auspicious moment of India's 70th Independence celebration. What a pride to have been born in free India and to have got world-class education? Would villages harbour such ignorance and superstition if they were also educated as I am? Education is the one of the most abused and underestimated commodity that is, especially among so-called-educated who revolve around problems which are distraction from the real problems. Always, when I read I just thank my parents for giving me such incredible foundation of education on which my future rests today. And this is a responsibility that I carry with it, I must leave the world better because of my education and actually create meanings in the lives of the less fortunate people who could not see this utopia which follows the life of an educated person. I am currently reading "JAMKHED" the project undertaken by the inspiring Aroles in the field of public health for the poor community. It is making me so much aware, and the next step would be to see them with my naked eyes at Jamkhed.