The next time someone feeds you a tired line about India or Indians being “conservative” or “backward”, here’s a rejoinder to leave them tongue-tied. One of the most popular Indian ringtones worldwide is the “condom a capella” (see report)! An imaginative composition produced by the BBC World Service Trust, this ringtone features the word “condom” repeated over and over, set to catchy music. And it is a hit. People love it and are downloading it for free from the website in their hundreds.
The idea is to remind people to have safe sexual intercourse and to remove some of the shame attached to the word “condom”. The ringtone is also supported by a few witty ads that would appeal to desi sensibilities.
What is interesting is that it reflects a highly enlightened approach on the part of the government and of various NGOs to the battle against HIV AIDS in India. For all our image of conservatism and no-sex-please-we-are-Indian, we are way ahead of the game when it comes to pragmatic approaches to public health. Nowhere in the West would such progressive measures be taken with such minimal fuss. The public health authorities’ measures to promote birth control among women are a case in point. This is something we should be proud of, as Indians.
On a less serious note, one wonders what it might be like to have the “condom a capella” as one’s ringtone. It might produce a few titters among friends and might draw frowns in polite company. But if you happen to be with any woman as witty as Mae West and your phone goes off…. The lady might ask, “Is that a phone in your pocket or you just happy to see me?”