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The healthy Indian child: a colonial construct

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In the Indian Subcontinent, many commercial advertisements still use white children's images to promote their products and push forward the idea that Indian children need to become better versions of themselves, both physically and mentally. Such views are neither encouraged nor accepted in the western world. We argue that these ideas are not new and that they were introduced during the British Raj. We further argue that the hegemonic culture promulgated by the British colonial rulers is still prevalent in this postcolonial era and is being used by international and local manufacturers, intentionally or unintentionally, as part of their promotional activities for Indian consumers. Drawing from historical and contemporary evidence, we offer arguments to this claim and analysis of the workings of the hegemonic culture in producing such advertisements.

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taken from P.S. Gupta & J.C. Jha Prize Essay: Media, medicine and the society; c-1900–1950. Retrieved May 9, 2020, from

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We wish to acknowledge Dr. Martha Traverso-Yepez and Dr. Fern Brunger (Division of Community Health and Humanities, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland) for their valuable suggestions and guidance. We also wish to thank the reviewer from Social Theory and Health for thorough and thoughtful comments.

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Correspondence to Abdullah Omar Saif.

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Saif, A.O., Sundly, A. The healthy Indian child: a colonial construct. Soc Theory Health 20, 54–70 (2022).

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