Aruna Bhattacharya

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


2004  PhD, Anthropology, University of Delhi, Delhi

1998  MSc, Anthropology, University of Delhi, Delhi

1996 BSc (Hons), Zoology, University of Delhi, Delhi



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 marginalisation affect access to the public good.


Aruna’s previous research focused on drug-resistant tuberculosis in the slums of Delhi and Mumbai; harm-reduction programmes for injecting drug users as well as the non-injecting sexual partners; child-protection interventions in constructions sites and railways stations; access to nutrition programmes among particularly vulnerable tribal groups; and sexual and reproductive health rights for female sex workers. Recently, she conducted an ethnographic study of COVID-19 health-seeking behaviour in urban and peri-urban Bengaluru.


Aruna has worked with DANIDA, The World Bank, The Population Council and led national and international research collaborations. She was an Associate Professor at IIPH-D and PHFI, and has taught public health courses (PGDPHM and MPH) in an interdisciplinary context. At IIPH-D, she led many research projects as PI and co-PI with national and international funding. She also collaborated with Harvard School of Public Health, University College of London and the University of Sydney for research and interventions as well as for developing collaborative curricula in public health.


She wrote (and edited) a book, ‘Innovations in Family Planning-Case Studies from India’, which was published by SAGE India in 2015. Currently, she is working on a book of case studies for creating pedagogy in public health using a social science lens. This work received initial funding from Health Systems Global (SHAPES grant).


Aruna holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Delhi, India. Before joining IIHS, she was a faculty member at the School of Development, Azim Premji University, Bengaluru.

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.



  • 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.



  • 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.