Essays in Honour of J. George Waardenburg
Edited by Servaas Storm and C. W.M. Naastepad
Chapter 14: Biological stress signals in the context of poverty studies: India 1970/95
14. Biological stress signals in the context of poverty studies: India 1970–95 Lalita Chakravarty* 1. INTRODUCTION This is an attempt to align two sets of data. One set refers to the ﬁeld of poverty studies. The other refers to biological ‘stress signals’ as indicated by mortality and fertility indicators. It is accepted as a convention in current discussions on poverty and destitution to leave the ﬁeld of mortality studies as irrelevant for the study of poverty (Dasgupta, 1993). Biological stress signals of heightened mortality in particular have been relegated to either the ﬁeld of epidemiology or, in special cases, the study of famines. It will be argued below that this neat separation of the two ﬁelds of study – mortality and poverty – is unwarranted in the present state of development. The geographical area chosen for our present purpose is the millet zone of India, that is, the four states of Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, though an all-India picture is presented at the outset. The allIndia data set is used for two purposes, that is, to explain the methodology used in this paper and to align poverty and mortality data at the all-India level. The time period chosen is 1970 to 1995. Within this period, three sub* The author is deeply grateful to Professor K.L. Krishna of the Delhi School of Economics and has beneﬁted from comments made by Jean Drèze and Suresh D. Tendulkar of the same institute. She would like to thank: Prof. Ram Ramaswamy of...
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