The Hari Putar Dialogues - 54
(BBC News ; Delhi ; 20 April : A survey of more than 1,000 men in India has concluded that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men. The study found that more than half of the men measured had penises that were shorter than international standards for condoms. It has led to a call for condoms of mixed sizes to be made more widely available in India. The two-year study was carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research. Over 1,200 volunteers from the length and breadth of the country had their penises measured precisely, down to the last millimeter. The scientists even checked their sample was representative of India as a whole in terms of class, religion and urban and rural dwellers.)
Putar: There is a report on the BBC website that condoms made according to international standards are too large for a majority of Indian men.
Hari: Is this definite?
Putar: It would appear so. A survey of more than 1,000 men in India has concluded that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men.
Hari: Is there much of a difference?
Putar: The conclusion of this scientific endeavor is that about 60% of Indian men have penises which are between three and five centimeters shorter than international standards used in condom manufacture.
Hari: That's a large population with a big difference, enough to warrant a different condom size.
Putar: Doctor Chander Puri, a specialist in reproductive health at the Indian Council of Medical Research, told the BBC there was an obvious need in India for custom-made condoms, as most of those currently on sale are too large.
Hari: What happens if condoms are too large?
Putar: According to the BBC report the issue is serious because about one in every five times a condom is used in India it either falls off or tears, an extremely high failure rate.
Hari: And if that happens there is a chance that someone may become HIV positive despite taking precautions.
Putar: Exactly. According to Dr Puri smaller condoms are on sale in India. But there is a lack of awareness that different sizes are available. There is anxiety talking about the issue. And normally one feels shy to go to a chemist's shop and ask for a smaller size condom.
Hari: There should be no need to be shy about these things. I'm surprised that no such study was carried on earlier.
Putar: HIV has been around for so many years. This issue should have been brought to the forefront much earlier.
Hari: It makes you wonder what the National Aids Control Organization, doctors and NGO's have been doing. Doctors should have thought of this much earlier.
Putar: Each human being is different. People assumed that the condom is stretchable and that one size would fit all.
Hari: And that is not true, so it turns out. After all you have stretchable vests but there are still different sizes. Just like you have different shirt sizes or vest sizes, so also condom sizes.
Putar: As a matter of fact this different size condom issue should have been discussed even before the AIDS epidemic.
Hari: Why do you say that?
Putar: There have been many organizations working on population control. Do you remember how during the Emergency there was a forced sterilization campaign?
Hari: Of course I remember.
Putar: As a result of that foolishly executed campaign, politicians have been scared to talk of population control ever since.
Hari: That misguided policy achieved nothing, as have many other campaigns that have wasted a lot of public money. There may have been thousands of unplanned pregnancies due to the condom slipping or falling due to the wrong size.
Putar: And it's easy enough to solve this different size problem. As Dr Puri points out the Government just needs to install vending machines dispensing condoms of different sizes.
Hari: And it should be made a requirement for condom manufacturers to mention on each packet that alternative sizes are available.
Putar: According to Sunil Mehra, the former editor of the Indian version of the men's magazine Maxim, Indian men need not be concerned about measuring up internationally.
Hari: Why is that?
Putar: He points out that: "It's not size, it's what you do with it that matters."
Hari: From our population, the evidence is Indians are doing pretty well.
Putar: Mehra also quotes the poet Alexander Pope who said: "For inches and centimeters, let fools contend."
Hari: Well said.
Putar: Tell me something Papaji?
Hari: Bol, Putar?
Putar: We use standardized medical treatment for all kinds of illnesses, don't we?
Hari: That's true.
Putar: But we do have different medicines for children.
Hari: Also true.
Putar: An enlarged prostate for a small sized man may be considered normal for a large sized man.
Hari: I guess so.
Putar: Don't you think that pharmaceutical companies and doctors have simply been lazy in this regard? Ideally for adults too in many instances we should alter a medicine's dose, according to their body size?
Hari: I don't know, Putar.