September 10, 2008

AIDS Sutra: Untold Stories: India’s first charity book

A non fictional work spanning across the breadth of India by some of the most eminent writers in today’s India. We have been in almost a state of denial with regard to the epidemic which surrounds us, with the name AIDS.

I was shocked to learn that India is home to 5.2 million HIV cases. And each and every essay in this book talks about one whole line of HIV cases, and in most cases these are the cases which are very easily missed out sitting in the metros of India and mistaking the Indian population to be the metro population at large.

This is a book which was an instant buy on just reading the short excerpt at The following day I read regarding an article featured on on the same book, and this certainly only added to my impatience in getting my hands on this book.

When I started digging in more regarding the book, I realized this book was being brought out in collaboration with the Gates Foundation, then the instant thought that did come to me was did all these writers come together for this mainly due to this fact? I am not too sure, nor do I have any evidence to prove not. The Foreword by Amartya Sen was very enlightening. I always knew the social stigma, fear and behind doors discussions regarding AIDS but, one aspect which I never knew was the economic implications of having such a large number of people inflicted with this sure – death disease. With the rise in numbers of those affected with AIDS, we need to provide more medication, create awareness and support these unfortunate, as explained by Sen. He explains that we have a loss of approx 0.9 % in GNP every year due to AIDS alone, this is not very large when compared to 7, 8 or 9 percents of growth though. But, so many doomed to die is a very large number!

Each essay deals with the various modes of spread of this disease and the aids that AIDS receive in its spread, in the form of unawareness, society, and sheer helplessness. The authors have visited each locale in India and send time in understanding the depth of the problem which we face ahead of us.

In spite of all that, I am not sure whether a book like this will help in changing any thought process in the Indian minds. For instance, who is this book intended to educate, those who are already educated about AIDS, or those who do not know this side of the story and need to know. This would mean that these people might never pick up this book for Rs.395 and read it. I believe that this book will only serve as a crowd drawer for all the various reasons that it was to offer. Promotion of this book as a charity drawer will certainly work; with the extensive and engaging author line-up most readers are sure to pick this up.


  1. You have a point - I doubt that the people who buy this book are the ones that really need to be allerted about AIDS. But perhaps influent and rich people will read and start their own campaigns and help. Every step is a good step, no?

  2. I am not entirely convinced, as I feel, doing something to solve this would entail firstly just telling the people and telling these people is the most difficult task.

    That can not be achieved by this book, that has to be done by word of mouth, as most of these people are not even aware of the language English.


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