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“The only thing necessary for these diseases to the triumph is for good people and governments to do nothing.”


Educating Mrs. Swaraj (Editorial of Hindustan Times)

If wishes were horses, all that is needed to halt the AIDS meance in its track
is to tell people to practice abstinence and stick to one sexual partner

Unfortunately for Sushma Swaraj, wishes are not horses and human nature remains out of sync with the health minister's version of ideal social behaviour. Ever since Mrs Swaraj wanted all future AIDS awareness campaigns to shift its focus from the use of condoms to 'abstinence and faithfulness', critics pointed out that her suggestion is seriously lopsided.

Now Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu has joined those who see Mrs Swaraj as being more than a trifle impractical. And Mr Naidu should know, considering that his state has the dubious distinction of recording the second highest number of AIDS cases in the country.Mrs Swaraj's objections to 'condom-centric' awareness campaigns are rather bizarre - although not quite unexpected from someone who as I&B minister had problems regarding the 'translucency' of television newscasters' blouses and the contents of a particular fashion channel. Her antipathy against contraceptives is based on the notion that tom-tomming its 'benefits' will encourage 'immorality' and lead to a licentious population.



The fact that the priority is to tackle AIDS - and not to usher in a latter-day satya yug - seems to be lost on the morals minister. Sure, there is a correlation between a 'libertine' sexual behaviour and the transmission of AIDS. But as Mr Naidu understands, sermonising is one thing and being practical is another.AIDS is a serious problem. If ignored  or tackled in impractical ways, it can assume epidemic proportions. The use of contraceptives is low among Indians - a mere 2 per cent. While the HIV virus is transmitted through non-sexual means also (such as blood transfusion), the bulk of incidences are contracted from unsafe sexual intercourse.


To suggest abstinence to stop AIDS from spreading is akin to telling people not to eat in order to tackle obesity. It won't work for people not sharing Mrs
Swaraj's high moral standards.