… Most of you may recall 1st December as World AIDS Day. Not a day of celebration, but a day to mark the occasion for people surviving HIV/AIDS. Yes, I am speaking about the very disease which is considered widely a lethal killer world-wide, assuming the fact in all probability the vaccine or cure has not been commercially viable even as of today.
Miles away, I am pretty sure to read that expression on your faces why someone should talk you into reading about this, those words which are a taboo to speak in a country like IND. But face the facts. It's spreading & people are simply fucking careless. Allow me the introductions. What can we do to change this situation? #population
It has been since a few years, I'd been part of a social campaign. AIDSroko is a Non-Profit based in Chennai, IND & previously managed from Gurgoan. We have helped people talk to friends, family about HIV/AIDS, educating how to get free access to HIV testing done, getting treatment, had had a hot-line SMS server facility to alert about camps. Proudly, AIDSroko has not accepted any monetary donations, nor have expressed any intentions for the same. We have been a self-funded team since its inception & never pursued lobbying efforts for grants/donations, which we are pretty happy about.
AIDSroko simply translates STOP AIDS, and probably very familiar with those of you from North? The idea for the awareness campaigns were initially stirred by a team from Gurgoan — Late Mr. Puneet Goyal, Amit Gupta, Sekar Karan, et all. A small team presently managed the campaigns along with few fellow social-preneurs like Anshu Matri, Shiv, Mytheen et all from CHN. Mr. Goyal, a person I never got an opportunity to meet in person, had unfortunately passed away few years ago in car accident, before coining this initiative. He was a entrepreneur at heart, a proud father, and had quit his daily job to start a life sciences startup. As a token of respect & tribute, we thank him to have been lending us a helping hand on the early stages of this movement. For past years, we have spent some time doing a little social work, educating the youth, running this trust initated by him till this very day. What a funny thing, time just flies so fast. Yet, what we had done is obviously lesser than what we planned.
AIDSroko team has been working with many socio-political campaigns & pretty known for its bit defensive stance against EU India Free trade deals which hindered Indian Pharma Cos to make IUVs & medicines at affordable cost. Funny fact, not many from India cared when letters where written to the ministers. But a strong repression from APJ regions had not only helped to make this to the headlines, it also was truly a global support movement which we were proud to associate.
It was a great to have be featured on the news when the AIDSroko movement started. People loved the concept what we aspired to change, make a self-conscious nation where people can talk in facts about HIV/AIDS, and do their part to educate people et all. But there are always cons of doing a large social campaign, so inappropriate to be detailed point wise for a corrupt & scandalous nation like INDIA. Our aspiring ambitions to set up condom vending machines in public places, only made us drop the plans pre-procurement when a record 95% of them went missing & manned by furious oppressions of ignorant religious fanatics, against installing machines. People claimed & stuck with a concept that an orthodox family man doesn't need a condom. Well, such a misery for forgetting population control? If you like to dig more about this, I recommend you to take a look at the news. Wish I could paste those links. TN is among the top 3 on this as well, against public CVMs, which was shocking to learn. But, these are the hard facts!
A record # of 89K condom vending machines have been reported lost by GOI, mostly getting stolen or potentially untraceable, which only raises doubts on NACO's efforts to install a machine. Most recently, it has been noted condoms meant for large distribution have been carefully managed as expired inventories & re-supplied for tar road contracts. A record # of condoms also been re-traced to 3rd party vendors distributors of large scale counterfeit products in rubber industry. BTW, non-latex versions are no exceptions. PS. Procuring LATEX is hard. Indian LATEX seems only fit for tyre rubbers & import duty of Malay rubbers are so sky rocketing high that more than 600 SMEs have downed their shutters! In all best intentions, we planned to build the world's cheapest condom, and we FAILED. We also did our part to research, participate in BGMF contest to come with a female condom design & make a patent for the most pleasurable condom, which sadly was only in theory. Needed some funds, which was one huge reason the plan was abruptly dropped at the prototyping stage itself. Funny thing, all condoms have patents which minor variations & clustered law suits & legal gambles. Strongly a reason why we huge collabs like TTK & Durex did break recently. So, we had surveyed e-commerce as well. It was a very long time since we planned to do something interesting for the Flipkart generation. Trust me folks, condoms are today the most sold inventory & has become an essential commodity. Few heavy hitters have already a big market pie doing the stocking & maintaining the demand/supply. Sad, governments act like crazy little lunatics to control population or even AIDS. As a matter of fact, this industry had in deed made itself large. But, shipping discretely is always a problem, esp. in rural areas. Moral, Social business is an epic failure for our ecosystem. Be it real or virtual.
We'd partnered in 2010 with UPSACS on NACO's Initiatives. Sad, not much support came from TANSACS. And, so did the condom manufacturing units lead by giants like HLL/Raymonds/TTK/JK-Ansell, who shared the same enthusiasm like TANSACS. A most disgusting fact about TANSACS which even became tainted scandalous sometime past for associating with NGOs which enrolled home makers as sex workers to scrap a decent commission at union level. Our aim to spread the word around corporate, social & cultural events always seemed to have proved wrong, in all specificity for words which have a strong social stigma associated to be something evil & unorthodox to discuss. And, today events are equally over priced & conscious feedback from volunteers through such events never seem to gel, rather mar the tone of such events when anything related to non-profits comes into its place.
Seriously, its not my best intentions to bomb your inboxes. We have decided to shout aloud this one last time & stop howling. We are too small a team for such a big talk, but today's a day to mark the occasion.
YES, we're scrapping the site & are dissolving teams for many reasons above & more which I wish not to state publicly. We also do not want to do a crowd-funding/viral social media fund raisers, which only breaks our golden rules to establish as a Non-Profit. I am really happy we could at least in-person help a dozen people & be quasi-SOCIAL. Trust me folks, their smiles are beautiful & equally sad. So long, if you are out there reading my 2 cents which all predictable patience, .. With deep regrets, we are disbanding the team AIDSroko. Thanks to the supporters & volunteers involved.
Subscribing to the ideas of population control, I am looking forward to build a cost-effective condom dispensing machine prototype, which accepts used recyclable plastic bottles. The long term vision is physically installing vending machines across India, that delivers condoms, emergency contraceptives, birth control pills, and sanitary napkins. I am actively scouting for socially conscious individuals based in Chennai, who are willing to work towards this not-for-profit initiative.
Thanks for reading!