Monday, August 23, 2010

Article in the Indian Express - August 21, 2010

This article appeared in my Sunday column Un Intended in the New Indian Express yesterday.

Get More Condom Vending Machines Please

I have been following the CWG with great interest. The preview organized by the administrators is very exciting. Firstly, the games have got unprecedented publicity. Everyone in the world now knows about CWG, The Queen’s Baton Relay, Kalmadi etc. Secondly, the administrators are inspiring our athletes to break new records since they have broken all records in prices of various items - no other country can beat us there. Thirdly, they have inspired a sense of patriotism in India. Just the other day we had a half page advertisement from a private business house asking us to stop looking at unfinished stadia and expensive toilet rolls and applaud the good work. This is the spirit that the games instill in all of us.
But what caught my eye really are the condom vending machines. So the CWG was buying 200 condom vending machines (now reduced to 100 machines only). Which, I deduced quickly, means that people will use these machines to buy condoms. And since the games are not a couples-only affair we can safely assume that chaps will strike up random liaisons, buy condoms and get on with it. I mean, I am actually paying tax to buy one lakh condoms for athletes and administrators from the commonwealth countries so they can have sex with someone who is not their wife or girlfriend! No one can say that I did not do my bit for the country.
But as a tax payer I’d like to know more about the partners? Who are they and where does one find them (just academic)? Am I also paying to find and fund them also? Is it because of them that CWG costs have escalated? Who uses these condoms most – sportsmen or staff or administrators (I refuse to finance condoms for administrators)? Are the condoms sponsored with logo etc to bring down the cost? Does CWG have police clearance for these activities, and more importantly, the go ahead from moral police (who might get the poor sportsmen married off to the object of their passions)? The CWG chaps could do well to prepare themselves s to answer these questions.
These petty issues aside I also do not understand why the CWG is being stingy about condom vending machines while being so liberal about umbrellas and toilet papers. Why 100 machines and not 200 as originally planned ? What if there’s a shortage? It will show badly on our understanding of the use of condoms and will lower the prestige of the country in more ways than one. And though we may be able to handle athletes who do not have tracks to run on, water to swim in, stadia to compete in, loos to visit.. it would be difficult to hold back sportsmen used to 500 condom vending machines with 100 vending machines. Here, let me make it very clear, I don’t intend to pay a condom-shortage surcharge for the rest of my life on every purchase I make to fund a whole new population created by the stingy CWG.
I urge the Ministry to take this issue seriously and sanction another 900 top class condom vending machines urgently, cost no matter. I have no problem with excess money being spent on all other things because it is a matter of our national prestige and we must show the world what we are. But I will not tolerate the CWG spending less on condoms. Even if each condom costs nothing less than a couple of thousand rupees. We must be able to stand erect, and hold our pride high after all.

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