You, Me…and a Condom

Condom or Nirodh, Two words which can be used interchangeably but they both are continually not being used in our society. However, since the problem of the population explosion is looming over India and AIDS Control Programme’s are getting more and more recognition, a large number of people are becoming open to the word Nirodh or condom. Nirodh, meaning protection, was the brainchild of an Indian Institute of Management (IIM) student and it went on to create history in the country’s family planning movement.

In 1964, India’s population was 470 million and with an annual addition of 12 million it was to double in three decades. Since urgent steps were the need of the hour, the allocation for the family planning in the Third Plan was quintupled to $56 million and help of international agencies was sought.

Condoms were available in India since the 1940s; even in 1968 the total users of the product by four private manufacturers was barely one million and at 25 paise, the price was the same as it was in US markets.

Therefore, they were available to elite classes only. To tackle this, it was suggested that government should import condoms and sell it at 5 paise. This was done, but it was essential that we had our own condom manufacturing unit to tackle the growing demand. In 1969, Hindustan Latex Limited (HLL) set up the first condom factory in Thiruvananthapuram with an annual production of 144 million pieces.

It is estimated that over five million people in India are infected with HIV/AIDS. National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) recognises the usage of condom as being helpful in order to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS and has started focusing on areas where spread is more likely. It is believed that promoting condoms among high-risk groups such as prostitutes and their clients is the best way to deter the spread of AIDS. Furthermore, condoms prevent the spread of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) as well. It is effective at reducing the transmission of genital herpes, warts, syphilis, gonorrhea and many others. Indian made condoms have done reasonably well and are considered to be a blessing. Now HLL produces the world’s largest variety of condoms.
Though the Indian population has more than doubled in the last three decades and is predicted to be the world’s largest by 2050, the growth rate has fallen considerably and much of the credit goes to the humble Nirodh.

There are umpteen advantages of using condoms. And yet awareness regarding condom is very low. It is high time that we realise the importance of using condoms and contribute towards spreading awareness about it. The government of India and many NGOs are doing their best.

So, the next time when you hear the word ‘condom’, don’t feel shy and try to spread awareness to your friend, family, colleague, among others. By doing so, you will help them and the government. Presumably, awareness about condoms is the reason why the country’s population growth rate is down from 2.4 per cent in 1964 to 1.8 per cent in 2005.

Rishabh Shrivastava

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