This refers to the article “Caste and inequalities in health” (Aug. 22). Social indicators like health should be measured in terms of economic backwardness and lack of education. The caste system has made sure that a large majority of the rural community has remained backward due to lack of education and the attendant economic weakness. It is this aspect that contributes to the lower levels achieved in terms of health indicators rather than caste per se.
We do not accept the existence of caste-based inequalities although we are aware of them. Indians carry their caste identity wherever they go. The issue has to be addressed effectively to bring real development to our nation, not only in health but in other areas as well.
The relationship between caste and health has been stretched too far. The poor, irrespective of the caste they belong to, find costly health care services inaccessible. A poor man belonging to a forward caste is as unlikely to undergo treatment in premier hospitals as a Dalit is. And a person belonging to a backward caste has access to quality health care if he is well-off.
Though the glass barrier still exists in Indian society, the link between poverty, health and social strata cannot be generalised as there are examples of some Scheduled Tribes that are as well-off as the forward castes.