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New insights into the human mind have radically altered the way mental illness is understood. And modern science now offers accepted methods of diagnosis and effective means of treatment. In some parts of the world, healthcare has thus been reformed; the state provides the mentally ill with the same rights as other citizens, and society enables them to live a life of dignity, respect, and meaning. Elsewhere, the gains have been sparse and slow.
The reform of mental healthcare in India began in the early 20th century, during British rule. What prompted this move? Which new ideas took root then? Who were the people that pushed for change? How did political events affect the pace of progress? When did international opinion begin to matter? What did all of this mean for the treatment and care of the mentally ill? And why do four out of five mentally ill persons go untreated even today?
Daman Singh looked for answers to these questions in archival records, official reports, parliamentary debates, court proceedings, academic journals, and news articles. The result is this intriguing account of a little-known battle spanning a century and more.
Daman Singh graduated in mathematics from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi, in 1984. She went to the Institute of Rural Management, Anand, for further studies and worked in the field of development for twenty years. She is the author of two previous works of non-fiction: The Last Frontier: People and Resources in Mizoram (1996) and Strictly Personal (2014), a memoir of her parents Manmohan Singh and Gursharan Kaur. She has also written three novels: Nine by Nine (2008), The Sacred Grove (2010), and Kitty’s War (2018). She lives in Delhi with her husband and dog.