Vantage point

Monday, December 26, 2005

Why AIDS is Spreading in India

Last year, the World Health Organisation(WHO), alarmed by the rapid spread of AIDS in India, sent a special agent to the country. The agent believed he got to the bottom of the issue pretty fast, and submitted the 60 page report to the WHO AIds Committee. What follows is a summary of the report.

Summary of "Why AIDS is Spreading in India"

The reason behind why AIDS is spreading so fast in India is right there for everyone to see, and I am suprised that no one has done anything about it. In fact the reason was staring me in the face just a few minutes after my car drove me out of the Mumbai Airport.

Dotting the roads, and indeed the entire city of Mumbai, were "STD Booth"s!

When I spotted the first one, I put it down to jetlag. But then, I kept seeing an "STD Booth" every few metres. I asked my driver to stop the car near one and I realised that the "booth" which was a small yellow kiosk, actually boasted of being "Government Approved".

There are Government Approved STD Booths all over India, and we are wondering why AIDS is spreading so fast.

As I reached my hotel, I was greeted by an official from the Health Ministry. I immediately asked him to explain to me why there were STD booths all over the place. For some reason, he beamed, and said,

"Oh yes, that is one of your greatest achievements!"

"Excuse me? Achievements?"

"Yes. You see what happened is, our late great Prime Minister Rajeev Gandhi, in 84, realised that STD was there only in the big cities, and there too, only with rich folks. Rajeev Gandhi felt this was not fair. He wanted every Indian to have STD."

"What? Are you serious?"

"Yes, Rajeevji was a great visionary. He wanted even the poorest to be able to have STD. So he called an expert from abroad, a NonResident Indian called Sam Pitroda. Pitroda was asked to suggest how all Indians could have STD in their homes. That time, India had very low rate of STD penetration. Mr. Pitroda travelled far and wide, and suggested that the way to spread STD amongst the masses was simple. It may not be possible for everyone to get STD at home. So he suggested that he would come up with a revolutionary new method to spread STD. That was to set up STD booths so that common people, poor people, everywhere could get STD at a nominal fee."

"I am shocked!"

"Yes, that's how these STD booths were set up all over the country. So now STD has spread far and wide. Often even smallest of villages has an STD booth. What's more, it also provides employment to person running the STD booth. And it also requires very low investment."

"Employment? You're justifying this in the name of employment?"

He waxed eloquent about the success of spreading STD all over the country.

I think it is pretty obvious why AIDS has spread so much in India. I suggest the WHO demands that the Indian government immediately shut down all STD booths, and issue an arrest warrant for this Mr. Pitroda.