Health is not yet one of those raw nerve issues in Indian politics but it is being used to win votes in key state elections. That’s a positive sign.
Mention access to hospital care to a politician in France or the UK and they will jump as if you’ve just jabbed a raw nerve. Politicians in India have raw nerve issues too: corruption or quotas, for example. Throughout this election season there have been signs that politicians think that access to health might actually win or lose them votes in North India. Here’s the latest evidence from today’s Asian Age. The UPA government may extend its health insurance coverage plan to new groups such as taxi and rickshaw drivers. The government, of course, denies that this move has anything to do with politics. (For an explanation of the RSBY insurance programme, look here http://rsby.gov.in/about_rsby.html).
Health has established itself as a mainstream political issues across South India. We might all wish that we lived in a perfect world where health got resources because keeping people healthy was the right thing to do. We don’t and, in an imperfect world, having health as a raw nerve political issue is the next best thing.