Most are likely to agree that the accompanying call for action towards achieving universal health care in India by 2020 (hereafter referred to as the call) is timely and overdue. However, we disagree with the call in two crucial areas.

India is, today, the fourth largest producer of drugs in the world and a world class supplier of relatively cheap generic medicines. It is the largest supplier in the world of low-priced anti-retrovirals and exports medicines to over 200 countries. However, major concerns regarding access to medi cines in the country remain.

The demands of global capital, mediated through the market, are increasingly driving the trajectory of advances in science. Today this acts as the principal barrier to the advance of science as a knowledge system that is designed to serve the needs of the people. The needs of a neo-liberal economic order valorises immediate gain as the principal driver of science.

Touching the border of Birbhum in West Bengal , in this abjectly poor district of Sahebgunj in Jharkhand the story of despair is stark. In the black stone mines of Pakur and beyond, run the dark narratives of Kala Azar, silicosis, malaria, tuberculosis and rampant malnourishment. Poverty stares brazenly but there is not even the shadow of a government or relief for the people.

A quiet movement in health care has been unfolding in the rural interiors of West Bengal, improving the lives of thousands of people in villages where no doctor has ever been before. It is an effort defined by vision and commitment and is far removed from the CPI(M)-led Left Front, which has spent 30 years in power in the state.

Post-liberalisation, public funding in health care has reached a nadir