Aruna Bhattacharya

Lead – Academics & Research | arunab at iihs dot ac dot in


2003    PhD, Medical Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, Faculty of Science,

             University of Delhi, Delhi NCR, India

1998    MSc, Anthropology,University of Delhi, Delhi NCR, India
1996    BSc (Honours), Zoology, University of Delhi, Delhi NCR, India

Countries: India, Bangladesh, Australia
States: Delhi, Manipur, Rajasthan, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Assam, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, West Bengal
Cities: Delhi, Bangalore, Kolkata, Pune, Imphal
Languages: English, Hindi, Bengali, Odia, Axomiya

Aruna Bhattacharya is a medical anthropologist working in the domain of health systems research and public health. She uses an anthropological lens to study how power, hierarchy and social inequities create marginalisation and affects access to public goods. She is Lead, Academics & Research, at IIHS in Bengaluru, and is currently engaged with the IIHS School of Human Development building up the domain of urban health.


Aruna’s current research focuses on ‘Imagination of Inclusive Health Systems in the Urban’. Her previous research has focused on drug-resistant tuberculosis in the slums of New Delhi and Mumbai; harm reduction programmes for injecting drug users as well as non-injecting sexual partners for the prevention of transmission of HIV and STIs; child protection interventions in constructions sites and railways stations; access to nutrition programmes among particularly vulnerable tribal groups; sexual and reproductive health rights for female sex workers. In recent times, she has conducted an ethnographic study of COVID-19 health seeking behaviour in urban and peri-urban Bengaluru.


She has worked with DANIDA, the World Bank, Population Council, and has led national and international research collaborations. She was an Associate Professor at the Indian Institute of Public Health – Delhi (IIPH-D) at the Public Health Foundation of India (PHFI), and has taught public health courses (PGDPHM and MPH) from an interdisciplinary context. At IIPH-D, she led many research projects as Principal Investigator (PI) and Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) with national and international funding. She has also collaborated with the Harvard School of Public Health, University College London and the University of Sydney for research, interventions and for developing a collaborative curriculum on public health. Before joining IIHS, she was a faculty member in the School of Development, Azim Premji University, in Bengaluru.


She has written (and edited) a book, Innovations in Family Planning: Case Studies from India, published by SAGE India in 2015. Currently, she is working on a book on using case studies to create pedagogy in public health using a social science lens. This work initially received funding from Health Systems Global (SHAPES grant).


At IIHS, she is currently working on a large collaborative research project on urban health and climate change. She teaches ‘Social determinants of health and social inequity’ and ‘Urban health’ in the IIHS Urban Fellows Programme. She designed and taught the IIHS Urban Practitioners’ Programme course, ‘Introduction to Health Systems’ in 2023 and Health Systems and Urban India in 2024.


  • Introduction to Health Systems, Public health, Urban Practitioners’ Programme (UPP), IIHS
  • Identity and Social Practice – Accessing Health and Social Identity – Urban Fellows Programme (UFP)
  • Urban Health Systems – Urban Fellows Programme (UFP)



  • IIHS Health Systems and Urban India (2024), Urban Practitioners’ Programme (UPP), IIHS
  • Introduction to Health Systems (2023), Urban Practitioners’ Programme (UPP), IIHS
  • Identity and Social Practice – Accessing Health and Social Identity, Anthropology, Public Health, Urban Fellows Programme (UFP), IIHS
  • Urban Health Systems ,Health, Urban Fellows Programme (UFP), IIHS

Journal Articles

  • Nakkeeran, N., Jadhav, S., Bhattacharya, A., Gamit, S., Mehta, C., Purohit, P., Patel, R., & Doshi, M. (2020). Recasting food. CASTE / A Global Journal on Social Exclusion, 1(1), 1-16.
  • Bhattacharya, A., Chakravarty, Rangan, S., Dholakia, Y., Rai, S., Kamble, S., Raste, T., Shah, S., Shah, S., & Mistry, N. (2019). Such a long journey: What health seeking pathways of patients with drug resistant tuberculosis in Mumbai tell us. PLoS ONE, 14(1).
  • Bhattacharya, A. (2017). Adolescent girls and their healthy transition to adulthood-some perspectives. MOJ Women’s Health, 4(2), 45-46.
  • Bhattacharya, A. (2017). North East: Development through the Lens of Health and Gender. Yojana.
  • Betancourt, T. S., Zuilkowski, S. S., Ravichandran, A., Einhorn, H., Arora, N., Bhattacharya, A., & Brennan, R. T. ( 2015). Development of the SAFE checklist tool for assessing site-level threats to child protection: Use of delphi methods and application to two sites in India. PLoS One, 10 (11).
  • Tun, W., Bhattacharya, A., Apicella, L., Singh, S. Y., & Lewis D. ( 2014) Characteristics of sex partners and sexual partnership correlates of inconsistent condom use among male injection drug users in India. Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health. 45(4), 906-19.
  • Ghosh-Jerath, S., Singh, A., Bhattacharya, A., Ray, S., Yunus, S., & Zodpey, S. (2013). Dimensions of nutritional vulnerability: Assessment of women and children in Sahariya tribal community of Madhya Pradesh in India. Indian journal of public health, 57(4).
  • Sarna, A., Tun, W., Bhattacharya, A., Apicella, L., Singh, S. Y., & Lewis D. (2012). Assessment of unsafe injection practices and sexual behaviours among male injecting drug users in two urban cities of India using respondent driven sampling. Southeast Asian J Trop Med Public Health, 43(3), 652-67.
  • Deshpande, K., Shivaswamy, M.S., Diwan, V., De Costa, A., Bhattacharya, A., & Mahadik, V. K. (2013). Establishment of social club for adolescents living in urban slums: A potential tool to impart HIV/AIDS education. Journal of the Indian Medical Association, 111(5), 320-3 .
  • Deshpande, K., M.S., Shivaswamy, Diwan, V., & De Costa, A. (2008).  Education setting up social clubs for adolescents living:  A potential tool to impart HIV/Aids. Health and Population; Perspectives and Issues, 31(3).
  • Bhattacharya, A., Dwivedy, R., Nandeshwar, S., De Costa, A., & Diwan, V. K. (2008). To weigh or not to weigh? Socio-cultural practices affecting weighing at birth in Vidisha, India. Journal of Neonatal Nursing, 14(6), 199-206.
  • Kshatriya, G. K., Bhattacharya, A., & Gauniyal, M. (2005). Biological and behavioral aspects of HIV/AIDS. Indian Anthropologist, 35(1/2), 69-82.
  • Kshatriya, G. K., & Bhattacharya, A., (2005), An anthropological and hematological study of pulmonary Tuberculosis patients from Slums of Delhi. Journal of the department of Anthropology 9(1/2), 132-140.


Books/Books Chapters

  • Satia, J., Chauhan, K., Bhattacharya, A., & Mishra, N. (Eds.). (2015). Innovations in family planning: Case studies from India. SAGE Publications.
  • Sahu, T., Satapathy, D. M., Sahani, N. C., Bhattacharya, A., & Seeberg, J. (2005). Health status of tribal population in an unreached area of Malkangiri district. In R. Addlakha & J. Seeberg (Eds.), Accessing TB services in a Tribal district: The Malkangiri project, Orissa (pp. 105-130). DANTB.


Other Writing

  • Bhattacharya, A. (2024, March 25). Actionable ideas for TB control. The Hindu.
  • Bhattacharya, A., & Bhan, A. (2023, October 10). Prioritising mental health in an urbanising world. Hindustan Times.
  • Bhattacharya, A., & Muralidharan, A. (2023, May 29). Menstrual health is a public health issue. The Hindu.
  • Bhattacharya​, A. (2023, May 29). What Bengaluru’s TB control programme tells us about efficiency of health systems for migrants​. Citizen Matters.
  • Mishra, A., Seshadri, S. R., Pradyumna, A., Pinto, E. P.,Bhattacharya, A., & Saligram. P. (2021). Health care equity in urban India report. Azim premji University.
  • Bhattacharya, A., Arumuga, V., Biswas, K., Sharma, C., Joseph, F., Beddoe, S. W., Mehta, S., & Robertson, J. (2015). Double trouble: Injection drug use and sexual behaviour–Findings from a cross-sectional qualitative study of HIV vulnerabilities among people who inject drugs and their sex partners in Bihar and Manipur, India. India HIV/AIDS Alliance.
  • Balasubramaniam, P., Hira, S., Reddy, K., Kansakar, B., Menon, P., Bhattacharya, A., Singh, A., & Bandyopadhyay. (2014).  Operational pathways for integrating national disease control programmes for universal health coverage. Public Health Foundation of India.
  • Ghosh-Jerath, S., Kumar, B., Sharma, J., Singh, A., & Bhattacharya, A. (2012). Endline evaluation of WFP’s village level flour fortification project in MP. Public Health Foundation of India
  • Sheikh, K., Rajkumari, B., Bhattacharya, A., Rao, K. D., Sundararaman, T., Gupta, G., Jain, K., Patanwar, P., Gaware, M., & Antony, K. R. (2010). Why some doctors serve in rural areas: A qualitative assessment from Chhattisgarh state. Public Health Foundation of India.
  • Khan, M. E., Bhattacharya, A., Bhuiya, I., & Aeron, A. (2008). A situation analysis of care and support for rape survivors at first point of contact in India and Bangladesh. Population Council.
  • Sarna, A., Tun, W., Bhattacharya, A., Mahendra, V. S., Apicella, L., Selhore, N., & Singh, A. (2007). Assessment of sexual behaviours and sexual networks of injecting drug users in Delhi and Imphal, India. Population Council.
  • Sarna, A., Tun, W., Bhattacharya, A., Mahendra, V. S., & Selhore, N. (2007). Injecting drug users in India: Understanding sexual behaviours and sexual networks to design effective behaviour change strategies. Population Council.
  • Bhattacharya, A. (2024, February) Working in uncertain times: Studying COVID-19 health seeking behaviour in marginalised settings using ethnography as research method [Virtual conference]. QHRN 2024 Conference, UCL.
  • Bhattacharya, A. (2021, August 26). Ethnographic study of COVID-19 Health Seeking Behaviour in Marginalised settings in and around Bengaluru, Karnataka, India. Paper presentation at the WPRN 2021 Conference, Paris.
  • Bhattacharya, A. (2019, October 8-11). Software does not analysis qualitative data, researchers do: qualitative research analysis without using software in multisite research studies. Fiocruz Institute, Brasilia, Brazil.
  • Bhattacharya, A. (2013, January 15-17). Discussing social-cultural dimensions of teenage pregnancy in Meghalaya, India. Paper presentation at the Global maternal health conference, Management and Development for Health, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
  • Bhattacharya, A. (2012, August). A comprehensive, holistic approach to understanding and improving children’s security. Paper presentation at the National Young Lives Conference, Sri Padmavati Mahila Viswavidyalayam, Tirupati.
  • Bhattacharya, A. (2012, June 20).  Exclusion and self-exclusion from supplementary nutrition programme: Brief focused ethnographies from selected villages of Gujarat – 2012-2013 [Poster presentation]. Lessons of Global Health from India, University College of London, London.
  • Bhattacharya, A. (2010, December). Shopping for treatment: Tuberculosis in urban slums in Delhi, India. Paper presented at the 16th International conference on qualitative health research, University of Alberta, Vancouver, Canada.
  • Bhattacharya, A. (2007, February). Sexual risk behaviour of injecting drug users (IDU) in Delhi and Imphal. Paper presentation at the International Conference on action to strengthen linkages between sexual and reproductive health and HIV/AIDS, Goa.
  • Bhattacharya, A. (2006, 29 October – 2nd November). Tuberculosis in urban slums of Delhi: Factors affecting the Occurrence, transmission and treatment. Paper presentation at the Global Forum for Health -10, Cairo.
  • Bhattacharya, A. (2006, September 12-16). Does a rights-based approach to health communication make a difference for TB control among the poorest? [Poster presentation]. Global Forum for Health-9, Mumbai.