HT Image
HT Image

Condom-inium!

Whether our ‘conscience keepers’ like it or not, more condoms need to be properly distributed to prevent diseases and unwanted pregnancies, report Sushmita Bose and Amitava Sanyal.
By Sushmita Bose and Amitava Sanyal | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JUL 29, 2007 12:28 AM IST

If you ask Ashok Row Kavi, gay rights activist and resource person of National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), about the biggest stumbling block on the road to condom usage, he says: “Men.” Explanation: “All they are bothered about is pleasure; condoms, they feel, reduce pleasure, so they don’t want to use them.”

The way out is “condoms being married to pleasure”. Enter, ribbed, flavoured, long-lasting, vibrating variants. Take this case in point. An organisation funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is test-marketing paan-flavoured condoms in Mumbai (the condoms are manufactured by the public-sector Hindustan Latex). “It’s a very clever shift towards oral sex, using a flavour Indians are familiar with,” says Kavi, who claims that the condom is a “big hit” in Mumbai.

What about the controversy that Hindustan Latex’s Crezendo brand stirred up in Madhya Pradesh? Gopi Gopalakrishnan, country director (Vietnam) of DKT International, which works on the social marketing of condoms in 12 countries including India, says, “It is good to have such controversies. It’s word-of-mouth publicity, which is the cheapest and often the most credible form of communication.” In other words, as long as the Kailash Vijayavargiyas (the Madhya Pradesh PWD & IT minister who set off the vibrations with a letter to the Prime Minister) and the Sushma Swarajs of the country keep their ‘thought condoms’ on, the real condom campaigns stand to gain. True to the thought, Hindustan Latex chairman and managing director M Ayyappan says: “The publicity over Crezendo only helped us — not only did we exhaust our stock, but are now in the process of procuring three lakh units more. This is the third time we are having a supply shortage in three months.”

Condoms and their sociology have indeed come a long way in India. But their, ahem, penetration has not really gone far into rural India, where they are distributed mostly through the State AIDS Control Societies (SACS) and social marketing channels. A lot of it is wasted due to the lack of proper distribution. Many of these pieces eventually find their way to making chappals, lining hut roofs, or oiling loom shuttles (with the non-staining lubricant). Bad distribution also leads to the problem of having outdated products in circulation. Vivek Anand, CEO of Humsafar Trust, says it’s silly to expect condom users to look at “user instructions and expiry dates in the dead of the night” when you have only one thing on your mind.

Manoj Gopalakrishna, CEO of Hindustan Latex Family Planning Promotion Trust, says, “Some 10-40 per cent of the condoms marked for free distribution are wasted between the district and blocks levels in various states. NACO is working on IT-enabling the SACS networks and bringing the wastage down to 4-5 per cent in a couple of years.” For now, it seems that mostly urban, middle-class India is getting to ‘cap it’.

We tend to forget that this is the country that started the world’s first social marketing programme with the Nirodh campaign in the mid-1960s. The government procured condoms from various companies and coerced large-network FMCG and durables companies such as ITC, Union Carbide (till the Bhopal gas tragedy), Hindustan Lever and Voltas to distribute them. When the winds of liberalisation started blowing in the early 1990s, specialised social marketing agencies like PSI, Marie Stopes, Family Planning Association of India and DKT International entered the scene, and the private sector companies kept to their own domains.

As for the products, the paradigm shift since the pre-liberalisation days, of course, has been the fun, wacky element. Like the Bindaas Bol campaign that USAID’s project Private Sector Partnerships-One (PSP-One) ran in India for a few years. Despite the long campaigns, even now there are huge cultural and social landmines in India vis-à-vis condoms, stemming from the perception that condom equals sex — and sex is, of course, taboo in this post-Victorian land of the Kamasutra.

“The toughest part is to maintain the fine line between appearing to promote promiscuity and being regressive,” says Anand Sinha, country director of PSP-One. GVL Narasimha Rao, managing director of Development & Research Services, an agency that recently conducted usage studies in UP and MP for the UK government’s DFID, says, “In UP, the second largest market in the country after Punjab, condoms are seen as a tool for preventing pregnancies. Most people regard HIV/AIDS as an urban phenomenon.”

The market is looking up — but only just

“Things are a bit better because everyone in the business is being proactive about marketing,” says PSP-One’s Sinha. Last year the market’s volume grew 15 per cent. The National Family Health Survey III (2006) showed a usage of 7.1 per cent among the ‘eligible couples’ of the country; NFHS II (1998) had reported the same at 5.3 per cent. And how do you make men learn the ropes of putting on a condom? Organise a condom-wearing contest, which is what organisations like Humsafar Trust does. Or promote condom art and other non-sexual uses of the product to remove the stigma that is attached to it, as does Dr Akash Gulalia’s Condom Project. NACO is putting together a team of social marketers to suggest ways of reaching the farthest corners of the country. Necessity, too, is mothering other inventions. Giving in to gay rights groups’ demand for thicker-walled, better-lubricated condoms, NACO is trying to procure and distribute some.

“We know people are having sex,” says Kavi, “We are not judging them; only asking them to be careful — because if they aren’t, they may end up dead.


With inputs from Aditya Ghosh

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close
Aditya Birla Capital, whose current market cap is <span class='webrupee'>₹</span> 30,000 crore, derives a majority of its market value ( <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>13,000-14,000 crore) from the AMC business alone.(Abhijit Bhatlekar/ Mint)
Aditya Birla Capital, whose current market cap is 30,000 crore, derives a majority of its market value ( 13,000-14,000 crore) from the AMC business alone.(Abhijit Bhatlekar/ Mint)

Birla Sun Life plans to raise 5,000 crore via share sale

By Anirudh Laskar, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
UPDATED ON MAR 07, 2021 11:54 PM IST
  • Aditya Birla Sun Life Asset Management has started talks with potential merchant bankers for the IPO, which is likely to be launched in the June quarter, said the people cited above.
Close
To put the scale in context, market leader Hero MotoCorp produced 6.5 million two-wheelers annually.(Hemant Mishra/Mint file photo)
To put the scale in context, market leader Hero MotoCorp produced 6.5 million two-wheelers annually.(Hemant Mishra/Mint file photo)

Ola aspires to pull off a Tesla, but affordably

By Madhurima Nandy, Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
UPDATED ON MAR 07, 2021 11:42 PM IST
  • The Bengaluru-based firm plans to start production as early as in June. That’s audacious, given that the land—260 acres for the plant and 240 acres for two supplier parks—is still in excavation mode.
Close
The Arbitral Tribunal, in a ruling by former Chief Justice of India AM Ahmadi on March 6, ordered the document to be binding.(File photo)
The Arbitral Tribunal, in a ruling by former Chief Justice of India AM Ahmadi on March 6, ordered the document to be binding.(File photo)

Zostel claims victory in legal row with OYO

By Tarush Bhalla, Hindustan Times, Bengaluru
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 11:37 PM IST
  • The term sheet executed between the two parties in 2015, promised ZO Rooms’ shareholders 7% of Oyo.
Close
The government, which owns 54% in BEML, invited expressions of interest for the stake sale in the defence equipment maker, along with the transfer of management control, on January 4.(Reuters File Photo)
The government, which owns 54% in BEML, invited expressions of interest for the stake sale in the defence equipment maker, along with the transfer of management control, on January 4.(Reuters File Photo)

Suitors make a beeline for 26% stake in BEML

By Malyaban Ghosh, Utpal Bhaskar
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 11:32 PM IST
  • Bharat Forge Ltd and Megha Engineering and Infrastructure Ltd may also submit expressions of interest for the government’s stake in BEML, the people said on condition of anonymity.
Close
The survey has been conducted against the backdrop of the economy coming out of recession in Q3 with 0.4% growth, after remaining in contraction mode for two consecutive quarters.
The survey has been conducted against the backdrop of the economy coming out of recession in Q3 with 0.4% growth, after remaining in contraction mode for two consecutive quarters.

Biz confidence at India Inc soars to 10-year high

By Rajeev Jayaswal, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 11:24 PM IST
  • The survey captures the mood of the industry for the two quarters ending June 30, 2021.
Close
Union Minister for Road Transport &amp; Highways and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Nitin Gadkari interacts with media. (PTI File Photo)
Union Minister for Road Transport & Highways and Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Nitin Gadkari interacts with media. (PTI File Photo)

Junk your old car, get 5% rebate from automakers on new purchase: Gadkari

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 10:29 PM IST
Nitin Gadkari said, automated fitness tests will be set up under public private partnership (PPP) mode while the government will assist private partners and state governments for scrapping centres.
Close
The accused stole over 5kg of gold and 9kg of silver ornaments worth <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>2.82 crore. (HT Photo)
The accused stole over 5kg of gold and 9kg of silver ornaments worth 2.82 crore. (HT Photo)

Gold prices down over 20% from highs. Should you invest?

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Meenakshi Ray, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 06:40 PM IST
Gold has been falling for the past few months and has lost more than 20% in value from the highs witnessed in August last year.
Close
Of the total investment made by Indian companies in foreign markets, USD 1.36 billion was in the form of loan; USD 297.37 million comprised as equity investment and the rest of USD 183.82 million was by way of issuance of guarantee, according to the RBI data on outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) - February 2021.(REUTERS)
Of the total investment made by Indian companies in foreign markets, USD 1.36 billion was in the form of loan; USD 297.37 million comprised as equity investment and the rest of USD 183.82 million was by way of issuance of guarantee, according to the RBI data on outward foreign direct investment (OFDI) - February 2021.(REUTERS)

RBI: India Inc's overseas direct investment falls by 31% to USD 1.85 billion

PTI, Mumbai
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 06:27 PM IST
Domestic companies made investments of USD 2.66 billion in their overseas subsidiaries and joint-ventures in the year-ago month, February 2020.
Close
Budget deficits in the Arab Gulf, where economies are reliant on oil, widened after prices crashed.(Reuters)
Budget deficits in the Arab Gulf, where economies are reliant on oil, widened after prices crashed.(Reuters)

OPEC+ surprise sees oil soar past Gulf’s budget-balancing Levels

Posted by Harshit Sabarwal | Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 06:27 PM IST
The shock move by OPEC+ triggered a rally in Brent prices, which rose to almost $70 a barrel. That’s higher than annual average levels needed for the cartel’s largest producers, including Saudi Arabia, to balance their budgets this year.
Close
Elon Musk’s tumble only underscores the hard-to-fathom velocity of his ascent.(REUTERS)
Elon Musk’s tumble only underscores the hard-to-fathom velocity of his ascent.(REUTERS)

Elon Musk’s historic wealth gains unravel with $27 billion loss

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 05:04 PM IST
Musk’s fortune hasn’t been solely subject to the forces buffeting the tech industry. His net worth has risen and slumped recently in tandem with the price of Bitcoin.
Close
WhatsApp helpline is now functional in all the 138 regional offices of EPFO.(HT File Photo)
WhatsApp helpline is now functional in all the 138 regional offices of EPFO.(HT File Photo)

How to check PF balance without Universal Account Number

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Ayshee Bhaduri, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 07, 2021 02:49 PM IST
  • For checking EPF balance without UAN number, users will need to log into their account through the EPF homepage at epfindia.gov.in.
Close
Union minister of state for finance and corporate affairs Anurag Thakur on Saturday addressed the Punjab chapter of Entrepreneurs Organisation. (ANI File Photo )
Union minister of state for finance and corporate affairs Anurag Thakur on Saturday addressed the Punjab chapter of Entrepreneurs Organisation. (ANI File Photo )

On cryptocurrency, Anurag Thakur says ‘innovation welcomed, must evaluate ideas’

By hindustantimes.com | Written by Kanishka Sarkar, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 09:09 PM IST
Anurag Thakur’s remark comes days after the Reserve bank of India (RBI) governor Shaktikanta Das flagged “major concerns” about the impact of cryptocurrencies on financial stability.
Close
The chairman of the 15th Finance Commission NK Singh(Sonu Mehta/ HT Archive)
The chairman of the 15th Finance Commission NK Singh(Sonu Mehta/ HT Archive)

Opted for continuity in deciding tax devolution to states: FC chairman N K Singh

PTI
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 07:39 PM IST
  • The 15th Finance Commission has recommended that states be given 41 per cent of the divisible tax pool of the Centre during the period 2021-22 to 2025-26, which is at the same level as was recommended by the 14th Finance Commission.
Close
Other than tax-saving investments, taxpayers also need to complete other tax-related tasks in order to avoid penalties.(Reuters)
Other than tax-saving investments, taxpayers also need to complete other tax-related tasks in order to avoid penalties.(Reuters)

From ITR to PAN-Aadhaar linking: Tax-related tasks to complete before March 31

By hindustantimes.com | Edited by Mallika Soni
UPDATED ON MAR 06, 2021 04:45 PM IST
  • Here’s a list of some of the tasks which need to be performed by taxpayers before March 31
Close
Tail of AirAsia X plane as seen at the Garuda Maintenance Facility AeroAsia in Tangerang, Indonesia. (Reuters)
Tail of AirAsia X plane as seen at the Garuda Maintenance Facility AeroAsia in Tangerang, Indonesia. (Reuters)

AirAsia CEO says company may launch flying-taxi business in 2022

Bloomberg
PUBLISHED ON MAR 06, 2021 02:55 PM IST
With the airline business taking a hit from the coronavirus pandemic, AirAsia has been expanding in the digital space.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP