The Indian Health Paradox: Lessons from Bangladesh

This article was originally published in Medical Journal of Dr. D.Y. Patil University | July-August 2014 | Vol 7 | Issue 4

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By Carol Vlassoff

The editorial entitled, The Indian health paradox: Lessons from Bangladesh, highlights an apparent contradiction in India’s growth story: That improvement in the nation’s health has not been commensurate with its economic growth. It notes that, while India is faring well in gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, it performs poorly in health indicators such as life expectancy at birth, infant and child mortality, access to sanitation, and child nutrition and immunization. Bangladesh, by contrast, while one of the world’s poorest countries with a per capita GDP of half that of India, is faring much better than India in terms of health indicators.

The author sees this paradox as rooted in gender equality, in which Bangladesh also outperforms India. Females are better represented in the labor force than in India, they have higher literacy and school enrolment and their representation in parliament is also more. As the editorial notes, all these indicators are powerful measures of women’s empowerment.

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Carol is featured in the IDRC Alumni Bulletin

As India strives to improve overall social and economic conditions and gender relations through policies such as the abolishment of dowry, increasing the legal age at marriage, and promoting educational opportunities for girls, serious challenges remain, especially in rural areas. Gender Equality and Inequality in Rural India focuses on the extent to which economic development has resulted in positive changes in women’s empowerment and reproductive health, as well as in sex preference.

Download the IDRC Alumni Bulletin May 2014

Book Review in Medical Journal of Dr. D.Y. Patil University

By Dr. Amitav Banerjee
Department of Community Medicine, Padmashree Dr. D Y Patil Medical College, Hospital and Research Centre, Dr. D Y Patil Vidyapeeth, Pune, India

Published in Medical Journal of Dr. D.Y. Patil University | July-August 2014 | Vol 7 | Issue 4

Download the PDF here.

The book begins with a beautiful quote by Rabindranath Tagore, “The traveller has to knock at every alien door to come to his own, and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end.”

Reading further, the reader soon realizes that the author has walked the talk.

Carol Vlassoff first visited India at the age of 27 years. Her first visit to the country in 1971 was not a very pleasant experience as it was during the Indo — Pak war and people were suspicious of foreigners, sometimes even mistaking her and her companion for Pakistan nationals.
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Times of India Interview with Carol

This article was originally published in, on April 14, 2014.

EXPERT EYE: Kanchan Gogate reports

Demographically speaking

On her tour to India, Carol Vlassoff, adjunct professor, Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, University of Ottawa, Canada, talks about her research in rural India and career avenues in demography and allied fields.

Intrigued by India’s vast demography and cultural diversity, Carol Vlassoff, adjunct professor, Department of Epidemiology and Community Medicine, University of Ottawa, Canada conducted a detailed research about gender preferences in Gove, a small village in Satara district of Western Maharashtra. With a long career in international development and having worked with The World Health Organisation as a women health specialist, Carol feels that India provides a vast scope for career in demographics and allied fields.

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महाराष्ट्रात आजही लिंगभेद कायम

Originally published in Lokmat Times, March 22 2014, page 2.

पुणे : ”महाराष्ट्रात वैविध्यता आहे..पण पुरूष आणि महिला यांना समान वागणूक मिळत नाही. ३७ वर्षापूर्वी मी एका गावातून अभ्यासास सुरूवात केली. तेव्हा लिंगभेद आणि वंशाचा दिवा म्हणून मुलगाच हवा, मुलगी नको, हा भेदभाव मोठया प्रमाणात होता. काळाच्या ओघात मुलाचा होणारा हट्ट काही प्रमाणात कमी झाला पण आजही महाराष्ट्रात लिंगभेद कायम आहे. हा भेद थोडाही कमी झालेला नाही,” हा शब्दावत अनुभव आहे कॅनडातून येवून महाराष्ट्रात गेली ३७ वष्रे अभ्यास करणार्‍या डॉ. कॅरोल वॉलसोफ यांचा.

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Rural Women in Transition

Marathi article by Sumati Kulkarni

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By Dr. Sumati Kulkarni

Originally published in LOKASATTA, 19th Feb.2011, Saturday Supplement ‘Chaturang’

Carol Vlassof from Canada has been coming and staying in a small village in Maharashtra every ten years during the last 35 years. During her stay she has been following the changes taking place in the life of women in that village. Recently she came to present the findings of her research to the researchers in India and in the gramsabha of that village. During her visit, we were going down the memory lane. I still remember Carol as she was 35 years back. She had come to work for Ph. D. under the guidance of Prof. Kumudini Dandekar of Gokhle Institute Pune, under Shastri fellowship programme of the Indo-Canadian Institute of Canada. I still remember Carol, staying in the Gove village (with a population of about 2000, near Satara), wearing traditional irkal saree and speaking Marathi with rustic accent. She used to tell us how she goes to the river for washing clothes along with other women- –so this was our Carol at that time. 

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