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Shalini Rudra

About Me

I am a Historian of global public health with a background in Public Health, Economics and Population Science. I am interested in understanding the historical antecedents of health policies to note how these were shaped using public policy frameworks. My training helps me apply an interdisciplinary perspective to understand and analyse developmental concerns, mainly as they have emerged in India over the past few decades.

My Current Research

I work on the narrative of counterfeit/fake medicines. My dissertation deconstructs the discursive history of pharmaceuticals as ‘objects of innovation’ traded between nations and protected by property rights. In this work, the spectre of “fake/counterfeit” created by introducing and enforcing anti-counterfeit legislation is interpreted as a transgression committed by industrialised nations to maintain their monopoly over innovative medicines, primarily by using the narrative of drug quality as an extraneous barrier.

In particular, this historical research pivots around the incidents of seizures of Indian generic drugs at the borders of various European nations between 2008-09 on suspicion of being counterfeit. According to a comprehensive review of the sources concerning seizures and drawing similarities with other incidents like Kenya’s Anti-Counterfeit Act of 2008, seizures partake in the neoliberal rhetoric of knowledge within which the narrative of fake medicine has emerged. Desperate measures represented by anti-counterfeit legislation correspond with another critical historical moment that established pharmaceuticals as protected objects: the harmonisation of intellectual property rights (IPR). This co-emergence reveals discursive frameworks aimed towards disarming India’s booming domestic pharmaceutical sector.

Although fake/counterfeit drugs pose a significant hazard to public health, actions like seizures align with large pharmaceutical businesses’ expansionist and imperialist impulses. Their long-standing position on generic medications as inferior and substandard, while leveraging the same pharma to generate profits by trading bulk pharmaceuticals with them, is highly intertwined.

Indian pharmaceutical capabilities developed mainly in the post-independence period via absorption, translation, and imitation until eventually withdrawing into total isolation in the 1970s owing to pressures from proprietary corporations. With the support of such strategies, indigenous pharma enterprises in India could withstand global challenges, reconfigure their technical chemical competence, and attain more socially acceptable, context-dependent, and renegotiated ‘agency’. The success of India’s native industry, which is atypically “small pharma,” is examined via the microhistory of Cipla.

My Previous Research

My previous research mainly focused on domestic health policies relevant to mitigating challenges in a rapidly industrialising and urbanising India. My engagements at various government and non-government organisations involved conducting health sector analyses and data-driven health policy assessments to find opportunities to improve the uptake of health services, reduce inequality and ultimately improve health outcomes.

My Motivation and Aspirations

My previous research work found that global forces directly influence national health policies. These could either be in the form of a mutually agreed upon agenda of the United Nations, such as the Millennium or Sustainable Development Goals, or intrinsic to the ideology of developmental assistance or philanthropic initiatives. In addition, health systems worldwide are heavily impacted by neoliberal policies turning health into a commodity - the wealthy can purchase it, while the poor depend on developmental aid or charity initiatives for assistance. The public-funded state health sector is either diminished in importance or focuses only on enhancing India’s foreign image based on indices such as the Global Hunger Index, Human Development Index, Transparency, Ease of Business etc.


Moreover, as we know it today, Global Health has become increasingly individualised, technology-driven and apolitical. Nonetheless, its antecedents lie in people-centred, public health focussed and community-oriented approaches. Between such reimagination and reinvention, global health has lost its purpose as a practising social, economic and political equaliser. Such international forces impact the health policies of developing nations with long-term consequences. Such concerns encouraged me to thoroughly study global influences that impact public health at the national level. I use historical analysis to reorient the present by bringing comparative perspectives to bear on the issues of health policies affected by global dynamics.


Peer Reviewed
    1. Hodges, Sarah, Julia Hornberger, Ushehwedu Kufakurinani, Shalini Rudra, Christopher Sirrs, Nishpriha Thakur, and others, ‘When Suspicion Replaces Evidence in Public Health’, The Lancet, 398.10311 (2021), 1565–66 <>

    2. Rudra, Shalini, and Oommen C. Kurian, ‘Progress Tracking of Health-Related SDGs: Challenges and Opportunities for India’, Asian Journal of Public Affairs, 10.2 (2018), 24–52

    3. Joe, William, and Shalini Rudra, Mala Ramanathan and Udaya S. Mishra, ‘Social Choice and Political Economy of Health: Reflections on the National Health Policy, 2017’, Economic and Political Weekly, 53(28) (2018), 83-91 <>

    4. Rudra, Shalini, Aakshi Kalra, Abhishek Kumar, and William Joe, ‘Utilisation of Alternative Systems of Medicine as Health Care Services in India: Evidence on AYUSH Care from NSS 2014’, PLoS ONE, 12.5 (2017), e0176916 <>

    5. Joe, William, Shalini Rudra, and S V Subramanian, ‘Horizontal Inequity in Elderly Health Care Utilization: Evidence from India’, Journal of Korean Medical Science, 30.Suppl 2 (2015), S155–66 <>

    6. Gupta, Indrani, William Joe, and Shalini Rudra, ‘HIV Prevention: Towards a “Structural-plus” Approach’, Health, 5(1), (2013), 102-108. <>

    7. Prinja, Shankar, Pankaj Bahuguna, Shalini Rudra, Indrani Gupta, Manmeet Kaur, S. M. Mehendale, and others, ‘Cost Effectiveness of Targeted HIV Prevention Interventions for Female Sex Workers in India’, Sexually Transmitted Infections, 87.4 (2011), 354–61 <>

    1. Rudra, Shalini, ‘Nagaland Has Poorest Maternal and Child Healthcare Indicators in Northeast India’, Health Express, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi, (Feb. 2018) <>
    2. Rudra, Shalini, ‘Childhood Wasting in India on Rise: Here’s What Should Be Done’, Health Express, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi, (Oct. 2017) <>
    3. Rudra, Shalini, ‘India Can Offer Developmental Solutions to the World’, NDTV < opens in a new window>
    4. Rudra, Shalini, ‘Immunisation Coverage: India Far Away from Meeting Targets’, Health Express, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi. (Apr. 2017) <>
    5. Rudra, Shalini, ‘High Income Not Translating to Better Health in Haridwar’, Health Express, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi. (Feb. 2017) <>
    6. Rudra, Shalini, ‘#Elections2017: Uttarakhand Has Rich People–and Children with Poor Health’, Health Express, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi. (Feb. 2017) <>
    7. Rudra, Shalini, Oommen C. Kurian, Rhea Colaco and Raushan Tara Jaswal, ‘Down to the District: The Health of 5 States Going to Polls’, Health Express, Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi. (Jan. 2017) <>

    Gupta, Indrani, William Joe, and Shalini Rudra, Demand Side Financing in Health: How Far Can It Address the Issue of Low Utilisation in Developing Countries?, World Health Report 2010 - Health Systems Financing (Delhi: World Health Organisation) <>


    Rudra, Shalini Determinants of risky sex among male migrants in India, International Union for Scientific Studies of Population (IUSSP), 2012.

    Working Papers
    1. Rudra, Shalini, ‘Gender-Responsive Budgeting: A Task Ahead for India’s 15th Finance Commission’ (Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi, 2018) <>
    2. Rudra, Shalini and Oommen Kurian, ‘Tracking SDG Targets on Health and Nutrition: Challenges and Opportunities for Streamlining Surveys’ (Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi, 2017) <>
    Book Reviews
    1. Rudra, Shalini, ‘In Spite of Stigma’, review of Birth in the Age of AIDS: Women, Reproduction and HIV/AIDS in India, by Cecilia Van Hollen (California: Stanford University Press), Economic Political Weekly, 50.21, (2015), 49-51>

    Book Chapters
    1. Indrani Gupta, Mayur Trivedi, Shalini Rudra, William Joe, Benoy Peter, and Ravi Subbiah, ‘Implications and Feasibility of Commercial Health Insurance for People Living With HIV in India’, in Three Decades of HIV & Aids in Asia, ed. by Jai P. Narain, 1st edn (New Delhi: Sage, 2012), p. 472 <>
    2. Shalini Rudra, ‘Are Elderly Living with Family in Good Health?’, in India’s Aged: Needs and Vulnerabilities, ed. by Udaya S. Mishra and S. Irudaya Rajan, 1st edn (Delhi: Orient BlackSwan, 2017), p. 272 <>
    3. Shalini Rudra and Priyanka Shah, ‘Pollution-Free Progress? Ambient Air Quality in India and China’, in China Ascendant: Its Rise and Implications, ed. by Harsh V. Pant (New Delhi: HarperCollins India, 2019) <>

    Presentations and outreach

    1. (Mis)interpretation or deliberate misuse of medical testing’ as part of the workshop ‘Medical Testing, Past and Present’, Department of History, University of Warwick, in-person, 1 December 2022.
    2. The case of seizure of generic medicines: An overextension of law or de-legitimising commodity trade’, as part of Summer School ‘No trespassing? Property/Theory between the disciplines’ for the 8th International Osnabruck Summer Institute on the Cultural Studies of the Law’, in-person/online, 18-24 July 2022.
    3. Discursive histories of counterfeit medicines and their adoption into legal instruments’ as part of a Roundtable 'Translating Social Science Approaches to Pharmaceuticals’ as part of the conference on ‘Mobilising Methods in Medical Anthropology’, Royal Anthropological Institute, online, 18-21 January 2022.
    4. Podcast recorded as part of Warwick P.G. Podcast (July 2020); on ‘International Organizations and Networks: Health and Disability in the Late Twentieth Century’ panel, 24 July 2020, Warwick PG Podcast: International Organizations and Networks: Health and Disability in the Late Twentieth Century on Apple Podcasts


    Indian Health Economics and Policy Association (IHEPA)International Health Economics Association (IHEA)

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