Friday, June 27, 2014

Which culture Dr. Harsh Vardhan is talking about?

India's union health minister Dr. Harsh Vardhan during his recent interview made a statement where he has said that the thrust of the AIDS campaign should not be only on the use of condoms as according to him it sends the wrong message that "you can have any kind of illicit sexual relationship, but as long as you're using a condom, it's fine." It seems he also said that citizens' moral fiber will have to strengthened if the disease has to be brought under control, he also stressed on promoting integrity of sexual relationship between husband and wife — "a part of Indian culture". Now what does he mean by Indian culture? In such a diverse country like India terms like morality and culture have different meaning and are attached with different set of values in different parts of country. Even most of scriptures (like Ramayan, Mahabharat) openly propagate polygamy and polyandry. Most kings we studied in history books had multiple wives, in most stories which I heard as a child kings used to have at least two wives one favorite one and another not so favorite one. In India we have Khajuraho temples where there are sculptures of people engaged in sexual acts, Kamasutra was written in India thousands of years back, so which culture is he talking about? I also wonder how come he is trying to link encouragement of use of condoms with encouragement to have illicit sexual relationship, I am still trying to figure out logic of this connection, I will be glad if anyone can explain it for me. Encouragement to use seat belt while driving is not a encouragement to drive but it is an encouragement to be safe whenever you drive. It just means use that seat belt whenever you drive a car, it's safe and it saves lives, it is good for you and your family, how hard it is to understand? It is a different issue that still many people don't follow it (even though it is a law to use seat belt in most countries) and no culture or morality is going to force them to do it, only awareness about benefits associated with using seat belt and dangers of not using it will encourage them to use this highly recommended and safe practice.

In a pluralistic country like India different regions subscribe to different cultural values and traditions. Even in today's world people's religion, caste, state (and hence language), etc. play a very important role in constituting their cultural values. In some parts or tribes still polygamy or polyandry is practiced even though there are laws against it. Dr. Harsh Vardhan is union health minister, his main job is to spread awareness about issues related with health. Spread of HIV (which leads to AIDS) is one of the major concerns for health ministry. Sex education is one of the important tool to spread awareness about AIDS and HIV. The main reasons attributed to spread of HIV in India are extensive labor migration (where people migrate to cities without their families), low literacy levels in some areas and lack of awareness about issues related with sexual health. Use of intravenous drugs and prostitution are also considered as other major factors which contribute towards spreading HIV. Now if we look at all these factors there is very little which culture can do to stop spread of HIV, even prostitution is considered of part of every culture as this profession is considered as one of the oldest and was a part of human history since ages. As cultural values are so diverse and drastically vary from region to region or even from family to family it is not a good idea for health ministry to depend on them for spreading awareness about important and serious issue like AIDS. Sexual relationships are entirely personal matter of any adult. Each adult person has right to choose their sexual partner, government or culture cannot dictate these things, there are already good laws which try to control minimum age for having consensual sex. But yes, they can definitely spread awareness about these issues without going into too much into cultural aspect of it. Government can definitely try to spread awareness about benefits of having single sexual partner, honesty in relationship, advantages of using condoms and other contraceptives, etc. They run this campaign purely based on grounds of personal health, it will make a very strong case. Please don't complicate it or make it controversial by bringing unnecessary cultural aspect in it. After all personal health is a important aspect of everyone's life, who wants to put their life in danger by doing some silly mistake?

I am sure Dr. Harsh Vardhan's intentions were good behind making this statement, may be his training in RSS or BJP has created an impression in his mind that all Indians follow same culture and that culture is related with Hinduism but this is not true and as a health minister of India he needs to understand this. I hope he will be more careful when he talks about health related issues in future and will use his medical knowledge more rather than using his teaching from RSS or recommending something from his own culture. Bringing unrelated issues like culture in health department can only dilute its impact on society. There is enough scientific data available about many of these recommendations just use that to spread awareness, run very aggressive campaign and try to develop infrastructure so that public health department is better equipped to deal with these issues. If he can do this India will definitely see improvement in sector of public health irrespective of its culture.  

Thanks for reading and please share your views on this topic.

[Copyright : Vinay Thakur. Please contact the author for re-posting or publishing]

Links:
1. Don't wear a condom, wear values to fight AIDS: Harsh Vardhan
2. Harsh Vardhan clarifies on ban on sex education in schools

9 comments:

  1. [[[Even most of scriptures (like Ramayan, Mahabharat) openly propagate polygamy and polyandry.]]]

    No they don’t openly propagate this!!
    You are yet again spreading lies about Hinduism with your very little understanding.
    I don’t know why you even bother to write a blog when you have little knowledge of the religion and its culture.
    Or is this purposely done as an antihindu statement which you have clearly stiolen from some Muslim website (naturally Im not going to advertise their backwards website either –this one is bad enough!).


    What you failed to connect is what you wrote in your next sentence [[Most kings we studied in history books had multiple wives….]]
    Yes only the Kings of the country had more than one wife. No mention of ordinary folks ever having more than one wife is written anywhere as far as I know. The Kings were allowed to do this as means of bonding with the neighbouring Kings and thus uniting the two states. That was the whole purpose of such marriage. It had nothing to with a culture of polygamy. This is western statement and a western concept which is twisted to apply to Indian culture.

    You cannot justify the Khujuro temple as an argument for your attacking Dr. Harsh Vardhan or anyone. You have to understand that the culture at those times were perhaps more receptive to sex than what it is today. What matter is what is happening to today and not back than. So you examples is really silly.
    The India culture today don’t even allow for nude shots in films which is far cry from the ancient times the temple time you talk of.
    You need to gain a basic understanding before making these rash blogs.
    Therefore the Dr is right in saying that India culture does not allow for illicit sex today. Tomorrow it may be different. In the past may have been different but today the culture does not allow it.


    [[I also wonder how come he is trying to link encouragement of use of condoms with encouragement to have illicit sexual relationship]]
    because that’s the growing mentality of many idiots in India today.
    Just like idiots thinks its OK to rape a girl if she is wearing a skimpy clothes. These stupid mentality of some Indians force us to stand back and spread the correct message that its not OK to rape a girl or have illicit sex.
    If you don’t like that message then that’s your problem to deal with.
    Many of us agree with such illicit sex and raping.



    [[Encouragement to use seat belt while driving is not a encouragement to drive but it is an encouragement to be safe whenever you drive. It just means use that seat belt whenever you drive a car, it's safe and it saves lives, it is good for you and your family, how hard it is to understand?]]
    Similarly wearing a condom is to safe guard you from catching AIDS but may be if you didn’t sleep around with so many different people then you wouldn’t catch AIDS and other deseaes. Condoms are also good for not getting pregnant! The rate at which AIDS has spread means that illicit sex is very high and we need to stop this rot!!!
    http://www.guttmacher.org/tables/320206/3207906t2.pdf
    Message like these are good. Why do you want idiots sleeping around with different women even after they are married.


    [[and no culture or morality is going to force them to do it]]
    So we have to keep teaching them morality and value and culture and religion and God till they do get it. We can only try.

    [[awareness about benefits associated]]
    These are also other means which are being done.


    [[In a pluralistic country like India different regions subscribe to different cultural values and traditions.]]
    AIDS does not differentiate between caste creed, culture colour or sex of a person.


    [[In some parts or tribes still polygamy or polyandry is practiced even though there are laws against it.]]
    These might be exception cases and not the norm and does not justify your criticism.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. [You are yet again spreading lies about Hinduism with your very little understanding.]
      Hinduism?? did I even talk about any particular religion in my post? If you are accusing me of staling contents from any website then please give and evidence, let others know from where I am stealing the material or just dont vent your frustration here, pointless accusations dont serve any purpose. I hope I am clear on this subject and next time either you will give concrete evidence or refrain from making such allegations.

      [Yes only the Kings of the country had more than one wife]
      At least I want to live in society where there is same law for everyone, I dont know about you and when I said most kings, I was not talking about any particular country or region. India was divided in many small princely states and some were ruled by Mughals and some by different dynasties and they all followed similar pattern, and when I use the word "culture" then it has very widespread meaning. I dont differentiate kings or common people, I am talking about rules and customs of that time, as far as I have seen only economic factors prevented people from having more than one wives that time there was no rule as such which barred polygamy or polyandry. Some kings used to have multiple wives and many of their marriages didnt have any political purpose (like Shahajahan), so please go and read history once again, brush up your knowledge and come back and read the post again, may be it will make some sense then.

      Please let me know which culture allows illicit sex, it might benefit other readers to know about such culture at least I dont know any such culture.

      [its not OK to rape a girl or have illicit sex]
      good, I am glad that you think like this, then just spread this message, shout it loud so that every one can hear, just dont bring unrelated issues like culture and religion in this, these things have no relation with this message.

      [ Why do you want idiots sleeping around with different women even after they are married.]
      WOW!!! where did you read this in my blog?? can you point out those lines which say this?? or this is the meaning you derived your self like the bigots who think that it's OK to rape girl in skimpy clothes as she is asking for it?

      Culture, god, morality or religion have nothing to do with AIDS or any other disease. Health department have to focus of spreading awareness about health and more to prevent diseases not about religion and God, I hope you understand this at least now.

      [AIDS does not differentiate between caste creed, culture colour or sex of a person. ]
      good that you understand this, that's why we need to exclude, culture, caste, etc from this topic and focus solely on health related aspects.

      Read the blog with unbiased and open mind, you might find it useful or just move on. There are many websites which speak your language (including many conservative Islamic ones) may be you will relate with them better.

      Delete
    2. Read this account about sex education, may be this will help.
      (copied from my friends Facebook wall)

      * About Sex-Education *
      So what happens in a regular sex-education class?
      Are little kids shown pornography and taught about different sexual positions?
      NO!
      Are they encouraged to have multiple sexual partners and risk HIV?
      NO!
      Are they given titillating material to read and misled about sexual matters?
      NO!
      * * * * *
      My school had an elaborate sex-education session. We were in Class 9 if I remember correctly. An NGO had been invited to handle the sessions, and boys and girls had separate classes, probably to help them open up without hesitation.
      My views will therefore be based not on rhetoric, but experience.
      * * * * *
      Let us assume that there exists a moral compass that decides which direction is right and which direction is wrong. It may be noted that such a moral compass, if it indeed exists, always lies in the hands of the government and the administration.
      I want to know what does the moral compass exist for, if not to guide. Can a moral compass merely declare that "this" is right and "that" is wrong", and do away with its most important objective, which is to guide?

      As a rational human being, you would want kids to learn. You would want them to see both sides of the coin, and help them reason and discuss so that they can decide which side is desirable.

      If I have a daughter, I won't want her to panic when she first experiences menstruation. I won't want her to lock herself up in her school toilet and try to wash the blood away. I would want her to know that her body is undergoing some very natural changes, and that the only thing to worry about when these changes happen, is hygiene.

      Almost every child has undergone some sort of active or passive sexual violation. I have been through it too. When I was ten or eleven, a big man had felt me up when I was travelling in a crowded bus. I had felt discomfort, but had not known how to react, It had lasted for about a minute, and for the next one year I was scared of travelling alone in a bus.

      If I have a son, I don't want him to tolerate something because he is ignorant about it.
      If required, I will sit with my future kid(s) and explain to them the fundamentals of sex-education myself. I am a writer and a talker and a thinker, and I am pretty sure I will be able to do it confidently. Because it's nothing to be shy of. Because it's logical and desirable.
      * * * * *
      But can all parents do it themselves? Can you imagine your own mother or father explaining sex to you?
      Not all of you can. Some parents have inhibitions, while others simply don't think it's that important.
      And that is why, schools must be where it should be taught. And at an early age itself.
      Comments welcome.

      ~ Abhijit
      The Anonymous Writer

      Delete
  2. PART 2

    [[Dr. Harsh Vardhan is union health minister, his main job is to spread awareness about issues related with health.]]
    Just because he is a Dr does not mean he doesn’t have a conscious or morality or belief in what is right thing to do.





    [[The main reasons attributed to spread of HIV in India are extensive labor migration (where people migrate to cities without their families), low literacy levels in some areas and lack of awareness about issues related with sexual health.]]
    NO the main reason is that people are sleeping around with random women or men.



    [Use of intravenous drugs and prostitution are also considered as other major factors which contribute towards spreading HIV.]]
    YES so we need to teach them morality –which now becomes even more important. Everyone knows that smoking is injurious to your health but they still smoke. So we have sometime resort to teaching morality and sometimes even God.


    [[Now if we look at all these factors there is very little which culture can do to stop spread of HIV,]]
    Its people like you who have given up. Many are still fighting it and making a difference. All you have ever done is come and moan about people who have tried.


    At this stage I stopped reading your blog because its poorly written argued and observed.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. [NO the main reason is that people are sleeping around with random women or men.]
      Any relevant data in this regard will be useful, please share it. Thanks in advance.

      Please also explain how smoking is related with morality? I dont see issue of morality in smoking. I have seen people worshiping pictures of saints with chillum, so what you do? ban such sects by saying smoking in immoral? how to teach them that smoking is immoral even if their god used to do it? or is it easy teach them its harmful to their health and might kill them (which is what they do in all anti-smoking ads)? I am surprised that you think moral aspect will still work in to solve this problem.

      Given up?? I can clearly see who gave up...just read last line of your comment. The blog itself is to suggest that campaign against serious issues like AIDS or other STDs or contraceptives should not get diluted by focusing too much on unrelated aspects like culture, religion, tradition, etc. It's sad that you missed it, but don't give up, keep on trying.

      Delete
  3. [[Hinduism?? did I even talk about any particular religion in my post?]]

    Off course you did!!!!

    Read my first line in my reply which also a copy of your word for word
    [[[Even most of scriptures (like Ramayan, Mahabharat) openly propagate polygamy and polyandry.]]]

    Why did you specifically point out the most sacred scriotures of Hindusim then if you weren’t talking about Hindusim!!



    [[If you are accusing me of staling contents from any website then please give and evidence, let others know from where I am stealing the material]]
    lol when I said I wasn’t going to name the website you are now asking me to name the website you copied from –funny guy!!.
    If people google your words (Even most of scriptures (like Ramayan, Mahabharat) openly propagate polygamy and polyandry.) the answer will be found.




    [[At least I want to live in society where there is same law for everyone, I dont know about you and when I said most kings, I was not talking about any particular country or region.]]
    Liar! You particularly pointed out [[(like Ramayan, Mahabharat)]] and now try to play all inoocent.



    [[I was not talking about any particular country or region.]]
    Liar again. You are clearly talking about India and Indian culture and you have repeated India time and time again in your sentences [["a part of Indian culture". Now what does he mean by Indian culture? In such a diverse country like India terms like morality and culture]]


    [[At least I want to live in society where there is same law for everyone]]
    Clearly you are so what are you complaingi about. What happned in the past stays in the past. You are very confused.



    [[Some kings used to have multiple wives and many of their marriages didnt have any political purpose (like Shahajahan)]]
    Stop trying to make thigns up now—ecpecailly when you said [[Even most of scriptures (like Ramayan, Mahabharat) openly propagate polygamy and polyandry.]]
    You mentioned Mahabharat and Ramayan and not Moguls or Muslims. Infact I don’t think you have mentioned it anywhere in this blog.


    [[Please let me know which culture allows illicit sex,….]
    So stop moaning about it in your blog. You don’t even know what you write anymore now.


    [[then just spread this message,…]
    Actually why don’t let the good Dr spread that message instead of trying to bring him down in your confused biased antiIndian opinionated blog.


    [[WOW!!! where did you read this in my blog??]]
    Your entire blog is speaking this message. Work it out. Its easy.


    I think you are totally confused and lost with this one and Im not wasting my time reading any more of your pathetic answers because I dont have time to explain your own errors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It seems you are facing some problem in understanding this post because of too many biases in your mind. When I wrote that statement about most kings, it was a very general statements. I was talking about most kings about which I studied in history and also about the ones about whom I heard many stories (fiction or real stories), it was not only related with Ramayan or Mahabharat but as usual you missed the point. Once I mentioned that these scriptures contain examples of polygamy (if you didnt understand the meaning this is what I mean by 'they propagate polygamy') then I dont have to include them again in this statement, so these two are totally separate statements directed towards different things, one is specific and other is very general, I hope at least now you got it.

      The line "I was not talking about any particular country or region."was specifically linked to my statement about kings, so as I suggested before please try to read with unbiased mind it might make sense to you. Whenever I mentioned about Indian culture I clearly said about that, the blog talks a lot about Indian culture as the topic is related with India so it's very obvious. The reference of those scriptures was in relation to Indian culture not in relation with Hinduism. So don't try to mix up the things like Dr. Harsh Vardhan did initially, he at least realized it and clarified his stand but you still seem to be in confused state.

      Don't try to explain the things which are not there, then obviously you will get frustrated. Talk about topic of post, explain about which culture Dr. Harsh Vardhan was talking about? and how it is related with spread and control of AIDS (by citing relevant data or examples). Why was he against sex education in schools? If you dont have answers to these things then keep on reading the blog some day you might get it, just throwing meaningless accusation at me is not going to help in any way. Thanks

      Delete
  4. Youre just digging a hole for yourself and so I'll let you carry on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are right boss...I am digging a hole, rather a deep hole to bury all these nonsense and outdated thoughts, traditions and rituals which has caused enough harm to our society over the years...and it seems I am getting some success in it as I can see you (along with some others who want to protect these outdated things) are deeply disturbed by seeing this hole...so be aware of this hole in future, anything bad, outdated, discriminatory will be buried in this...no exceptions.

      Delete