India: Health and Human Rights

Students with Medical Superintendent of District Women's Hospital

Field excursions are an integral part of the India: Health and Human Rights program. Students visit NGO headquarters, academic and research institutes, and hospitals in urban and rural sites across northern India; lectures are held onsite.

Most excursions are to underprivileged areas and aim to provide a better understanding of how caste and gender-based oppression affects the lives of the poor in otherwise thriving India. Excursion destinations may include Aligarh, Jamkhed, Chittorgarh, Udaipur, Varanasi (Benares), Bahraich, and Bangalore.

Excursions provide students with wonderful opportunities to interact with community leaders and victims of health inequalities. Students learn firsthand about the struggle to survive and challenges in acquiring adequate healthcare.

As part of the excursions, students participate in health awareness and healthcare work implemented by partner NGOs.

The visit to Aligarh orients students to the three levels of healthcare delivery in India. Aligarh Muslim University, a renowned federal university in India, has a tertiary-level “super specialty” medical college, and the district government also runs secondary-level hospitals. Students interact with undergraduate medical students, graduate residents, teachers, paramedic staff, patients, and community leaders.

Students also visit primary-level hospitals and sub-centers located in the rural areas of Aligharh District, where they interact with healthcare functionaries, link workers such as accredited social health activists (ASHA), Aganwadi workers, and men and women living in the villages.

The Aligarh excursion includes visits to the following healthcare facilities:

  • Jawahar Lal Nehru Medical College Hospital
  • Ajmal Khan Tibbiya College Hospital
  • District Government Civil and Women Hospitals, Aligarh
  • A community health center
  • A primary health center
  • A health sub-center in a small hamlet in Aligarh District

Students in Community Health Center in Jamkhed

Chittorgarh and Udaipur
The main objective of the visit to Chittorgarh and Udaipur is to introduce students to the catalytic role of NGOs in connecting people with health services. After the adoption of the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) in India, the role of NGOs has expanded dramatically. NGOs also work as research and advocacy organizations in the public health sector.

The excursion to Udaipur and Chittorgarh focuses on the health issues of marginalized groups in India. Students are exposed to remote tribal populations and their healthcare needs and concerns.

The excursion to Chittorgarh and Udaipur incorporates visits to the following NGOs:

  • Prayas (Chittorgarh)
    Prayas focuses on primary healthcare, addressing issues such as the right to health and healthcare; rights of women, children, and marginalized groups; violence against women; and community organizing. Students observe the healthcare issues and challenges raised in Jan Sunwai (an open public meeting) with health officials and local administration.
  • Seva Mandir (Udaipur)
    The visit starts off with an introduction session at Seva Mandir’s campus in Udaipur. Seva Mandir staff brief students about the organization’s core values, challenges in addressing public health issues, and their areas of work, including their role in promoting pre- and postnatal care in remote locations. Students then visit remote locations in tribal areas of Udaipur district. The organization has trained traditional birth attendants in remote villages.

Students with a village health worker


  • KIRAN Centre
    This organization was founded in September 1990 by a small group of individuals from various social, cultural, and religious backgrounds. It is a center for children and youth with conditions such as polio, cerebral palsy, rickets, and hearing impairments. The center provides education, skills, vocational training, and physical rehabilitation. Kiran literally means “ray of light.”

Jamkhed (Maharashtra)

  • The Comprehensive Rural Health Project (CRHP) Jamkhed, Ahmad Nagar, Maharashtra
    CRHP has been working among the rural poor and marginalized in Jamkhed, District Ahmed Nagar, Maharashtra for more than 37 years. It is considered the best community health project in India. By partnering with village communities and expanding upon local knowledge and resources, the project aims to effectively meet the immediate and long-term needs of underprivileged groups, especially women. Guided by the values of compassion, justice, respect, and trust, CRHP works to empower people, families, and communities, regardless of caste, race, or religion, through integrated efforts in health and development.


  • ASHA Foundation
    ASHA (Action, Service, and Hope for AIDS) was established by Dr. Glory Alexander in Bangalore. It is a charitable and voluntary trust to help individuals infected with HIV/AIDS as well as their families and communities. The organization provides preventive services, awareness, treatment, care, support, and rehabilitation for HIV-infected and affected persons, with a special focus on women and children.
  • Foundation for Revitalization of Local Health Traditions (FRLHT)
    Based in Bangalore, FRLHT is a registered public trust and charitable society launched in 1993. It aims to enhance “the quality of medical relief and healthcare in rural and urban India and globally by creative application of our rich medical practices, action oriented research, education, training and community services based on India's Traditional Health Sciences and thus revitalize Indian medical heritage.” Both the Indian Ministry of Environment and Forests and Ministry of Health have designated FRLHT as a National Center of Excellence for medicinal plants, traditional knowledge, and Ayurvedic geriatrics.

Costs Dates

Credits: 16

Duration: 15 weeks

Program Base: New Delhi

Language Study: Hindi

Prerequisites: None


View Student Evaluations for this program:

About the Evaluations (PDF)

Fall 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Spring 2013 Evaluations (PDF)
Fall 2012 Evaluations (PDF)

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