Citizens' Issues
The vibrating condom

The vibrating condom is banned (possibly and probably) because it gave women (or at least promised) women pleasure. And a minister who thinks women ‘flaunt’ themselves and therefore deserves to be molested, watches them flaunting themselves for his own satisfaction

Just the other night I was told of the launch of the vibrating condom.

I have been out of touch with this market for awhile, because I was informed that this was launched in 2008 or so. The product was indigenously developed by Hindustan Latex, a public sector company in based Kerala.

The condom itself is I think made from latex, as is the general garden variety. But it has a an additional ring which contains a small battery .The ring is slipped on after the event of the donning of the robe so to speak, and then at the appropriate moment switched on and I am told, it buzzes, ‘bzzes’ and generally shimmies on the organ in question. If one is hypersensitive or ticklish, the consequences could be ‘oops’ or ‘hee-hee’ or both. Otherwise I presume it is meant to evoke ‘ooh’ and ‘aaah’ from the partner, making the wearer smile with self evident satisfaction.

I was impressed with this ingenuity. Then I was told that the team of research scientists which developed this Wand of Wont featured three sari-clad south Indian women with flowers in their hair and the obligatory vermillion marking to signify wedded status. In short, traditional as they come. But clearly educated and progressive when it came to what science could do: Sort of like Indra Nooyi  meets Madame Curie or something like that. They told my friend who is in the rubber business, as in the making of rubber products business that the battery lasted for five minutes after which it would cease to provide one with the tingle. Now five minutes seems a little short, especially for those men who think they have endurance as one of their better attributes.

So my friend was a little taken aback when he was told by the south Indian ladies that it was one ring for three condoms and that the battery life was five minutes in total. He, I am sure like all men would, cocked an eyebrow at this, with an are-you-kidding-lady-five-minutes-for-three-interactions type of look. The south Indian ladies (you would have noticed that I use the collective, since I don’t  know who spoke, but I am sure that they did not speak in unison like a Greek chorus), responded that their research clearly indicated that for the average Indian man this was more than adequate. Having punctured the illusions of manhood, they wafted away leaving my friend holding Crescendo, for that is what it is called, in his hand. Diminuendo may have better suited the moment.
He claims to still have the sample in his possession, un-vibrated as it were.

The story continued: Apparently this technological marvel was introduced in the state of Andhra Pradesh. Soon after, the government of this state was seized of the need to ban its sale. The stocks were withdrawn and I am told this now sells in the state of Kerala where it originated.

I am curious. Why the ban? I provide four possible hypotheses:
1. The condom was unsafe and acted like a penile taser shocking the wearer.
2. It electrocuted the sexual partner.
3. It promised too much and delivered too little, as do most men in general.
4. It was far too good and had women writhing in ecstasy.

I surmise that it was the last one that prompted the keepers of virtue in the venerable state of Andhra Pradesh to cast the offending object from their eyes, so to speak.

Maybe the condom is but a prophylactic in its truest sense, preventing not just pregnancy and disease, but pleasure as well. And heaven be bashful if the pleasure extended to women, too.

I also believe that this product is now available in Kerala.

Now all this is hearsay and not admissible in court, as they say. I have no intent to asperse the people or administration of any state within the Union of India. I have nothing but goodwill to all men. And women.

And that is what my issue actually is. It seems that even in this twenty first century we still separate the sexes as if they were two species. One set of standards for the one and another for the other.

And so it comes to pass that the minister in another southern state is caught watching porn while the assembly is in session. In itself this is not notable as there is sufficient evidence that men surf for porn while at work. (Companies pay good money to firewall this, as a rule). And one could say that the said minister was at work after all.

The problem is that the same guy also ranted about how women who dressed provocatively deserved to be raped. I also understand that he was the minister for women’s welfare and child development. Which was real insult to injury like the parrot said when he was taken from his native land and made to speak English too, to quote the venerable Sam Weller from The Pickwick Papers. Putting aside the simple question as to how insensitive and moronic a government can get to appoint a man in charge of women’s welfare and child development in the first place, this is symptomatic of the problem: Men are the noble and pure and moral things, and women are the cause of all sin and immorality in general. Shades of the Old Testament, and the truly obnoxious idea of the Original Sin. It is the same malaise that you see when you hear the first sentence of a traditional Jewish Prayer, obviously said by men, which says “Thank you God for not making me a woman.”  It is the same syndrome when Paul revives the concept of Original Sin from the Old Testament. It is the same disease that the Taliban infected a whole country with.

The vibrating condom is banned (possibly and probably) because it gave women (or at least promised) women pleasure. And a minister, who thinks women ‘flaunt’ themselves and therefore deserves to be molested, watches them flaunting themselves for his own satisfaction. It is exactly the same attitude you see in Ram when he asks Sita, a kidnap victim, to prove her purity.

It is a sad commentary on our times.

But I take heart from this quote of Dorothy Parker, from the first half of the twentieth century. She said, “The weaker sex is the stronger sex because of the weakness of the stronger sex for the weaker sex.”

One day it will come to pass that women will not just be equal to men, but that we will never need to even state it.

And condoms will vibrate happily and hopefully for longer than now.

(V Shantakumar is the former chairman & CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi in India. He is now the managing partner at Doing Think, a consulting company. Mr Shantakumar has over four decades of wide ranging experience as a marketing strategist and communication specialist and has played a key role in the creation and growth of some significant brands in India.)




5 years ago

I doff my hat to you! No article on Moneylife has ever made me laugh so much!

Trees being felled in your neighbourhood? Use RTI Act

Citizens in various cities have used the RTI Act effectively to stall felling of trees or halt their abuse. You can do it too

Whether it is a Delhi High Court order or the Delhi or Maharashtra Tree Act, preservation of trees is mandatory and any felling requires legal permission from the local governing body. However, most of us tend to simply express sympathy and anger and feel helpless if we see someone axing trees.
Instead of feeling helpless, you need to know that law is by your side and the use of RTI Act can put you in the role of a watchdog.  These two examples would inspire you:
1. Trees saved from suffocation in Delhi

Three years back, Padmavati Dwivedi, a resident of an upwardly mobile neighbourhood in Delhi was aghast to watch her neighbours put tiles and concretise the area around the trunk of some trees. This was detrimental to the trees as they were unable to absorb water or breathe. It also led to a few trees being brutally uprooted when a thunderstorm hit the city.
When she argued with her neighbours, they put her down saying, concretisation helps in making the area look clean and also allows for more parking space. Ms Dwivedi, realizing the agony caused to the trees, approached the officers of the Municipal Corporation Delhi (MCD) but her plea fell on deaf ears. She then faxed letters week after week to the chief minister, who finally heard her complaint. The MCD authorities sent their men to de-congest trees from their concrete boundaries. Around a 100 trees were freed from strangulation.


A group of youngsters under the umbrella of “Delhi Green Blogs” (they have an impressive website too— were inspired by Ms Dwivedi’s campaign. Students of a bio-technology of a Delhi college, who had also earlier written to the MCD and PWD (Public Works Department) to remove concretization around trees but did not get a reply decided to pursue it through the RTI Act.
One of the members, Ankit Srivastava, stated in the blog that, “after reading about Ms Dwivedi’s successful campaign in the blog, we felt really motivated and started filing RTI applications about the status of work of de-concretisation of trees and reason for non-compliance of court orders.” The students asked for inspection of trees which the MCD claimed it had de-concretised and action taken against officials who did not follow the direction of the high court. Along with the RTI applications, they attached relevant rules and court orders like the Delhi High Court order of 2007; Delhi High Court order of 29 October 2009; ministry of urban development guidelines 2000; Delhi Tree Preservation Act, 1994 and Supreme Court order—all which clearly declare and deliberate damaging of trees, as an offence.
The PIO (public information officer) of the MCD gave evasive replies forcing the students to go in for a second appeal to the Central Information Commissioner (CIC). CIC Shailesh Gandhi gave the order in favour of the students.  Subsequently, over 1,000 trees were freed from life-threatening concretization in various sectors of Delhi. The blog now proudly draws your attention with this statement: “Thousands of trees can be saved in just Rs10 (RTI fees)”.
Did you know that, as per the guidelines framed by the urban development ministry way back in 2000, an area of 6x6 feet around trees must be un-cemented, in order to let them grow.  A high court order too directs the same. Therefore, you took can take up this campaign in your city.
Last week, a huge peepal tree came crashing down in a public place in Bangalore, due to it being seated in concrete, at its roots. Environmentalists stated that the health and strength of a tree depends on its roots and if there is no space for the roots to grow, trees can pose a danger to the people if they suddenly get uprooted. In 2010, a stalwart tree in Kolkata in front of the Academy of Fine Arts was suffocated to death because the PWD ensconced the tree’s roots in concrete to impress guests coming to the film festival. The tree died, as it was denied food from the soil around it.
2. How Badlapur residents stalled tree felling by forest department

Sometime in 2010, the Kulgan-Badlapur Municipal Council near Mumbai decided to chop 72 trees to make way for an administrative office of the forest department. Residents protested stating that the 1.75 acre of lush natural park was the only lung of the town. They reiterated that stalwart trees of tamarind, peepal, gulmohur, saag, jambul and jackfruit adorned the area and it was ideal for conversion into a botanical garden. It also acted as a barrier to industrial pollution in Badlapur.
Environmentalist and activist Jayashree Jambhale decided to invoke the RTI Act along with her colleagues of Paryavaran Savrakshan Sanghatana (PSS).  In the RTI application, they asked for the total number of trees in the park and details of correspondence between the municipality, urban development department and the forest department (to which the park belonged). The RTI reply stated that there were around 100 trees in the park which were around 100 years old. Correspondence revealed that, 72 trees were requested for felling without giving the reason that they were to make way for a concrete structure. Environmentalists argued with the municipality and forest authorities that there were more than 30 barren government lands existing for construction of the official complex. They managed to stall tree felling.
 You can do it, too, by filing a RTI application on similar lines. Pune Tree Watch has posted the following on its website to make you understand the power of the Maharashtra Tree Act:

Section on Restriction on Felling of Trees and Liability for Planting and Preservations of Trees. (Chapter V of the MTA)

Section 1:
(1) The basis of this act is that no person can fell any tree or cause any tree to be felled, whether of ownership or otherwise, in an urban area without seeking the permission of the Tree Authority (TA).

(2)Who would this include? And how does one then go about if the need for felling a tree arises?
This would include all Pune citizens, officers of the urban local authority, state or central government officials. If a tree needs to be felled then permission to do so must be gained from the TA through an application. This application must include the description of the tree, location, a site plan and reasons for wanting the tree to be felled. There is a form available at the Garden Department’s office for the same.

(3)What is the procedure that follows thereof?
a) Within 30 days of receiving the application, a Tree Officer must personally inspect the tree, hold an enquiry and report back to the TA. Adequate public notice is to be given by the Tree Officer by advertising in the local newspapers. In Pune these are done on a rotation basis by the PRO, as well as a notice must be fixed on the tree itself. The TA must give or refuse permission within 60 days from receipt of application with/without conditions. Such permission shall not be refused if, in the opinion of the TA, the tree is dead, diseased, wind-fallen, poses a danger to life or property, and/or obstructs traffic. However, no tree shall be felled until 15 days after such permission is given. If any objection is received against such permission, the matter shall be placed before the TA for reconsideration. A decision shall be taken within two weeks after giving a hearing to the person who has raised the objection. In Pune, one can raise an objection through a written letter submitted to the Tree Officer or to the Tree Authority.

b) The TA must submit a report of permissions granted once every six months to the urban local authority.

(4) What happens if the TA does not respond to the application?
The applicant must wait for a period of 60 days from the date of submission of the application. If the TA does not inform the applicant of their decision within this period, the application shall be deemed as granted. In Pune there is not a single case where tree felling has happened when the TA has failed to inform the applicant.

(5) What are the conditions involved when such permission is granted?
When the permission is granted, it is subject to condition that the applicant shall plant another three trees of the same or suitable species on the same site or another suitable place within 30 days from date on which tree is felled, or the time given by the Tree Officer. The individual is also asked to deposit Rs2,000 per tree that is felled. A periodical inspection is taken on by the staff. This amount is refunded after two years, if the trees are growing satisfactorily.

Section 2:
(1)What if any land does not have a sufficient number of trees?
If the TA believes that the number of trees in any plot of land is insufficient according to the prescribed standards that the TA has developed, the owner or occupier may be required, after a hearing, to plants many trees as specified.

(2) Any order received by the owner/occupier should be complied with, within 90 days of the receipt of the order.

Section 3:
(1) What if a tree has fallen due to natural forces?
If a tree falls on a property due to natural causes (rain, fire, lightening or wind), the Tree Officer, on the basis of an enquiry and after giving reasonable opportunity to the owner/occupier of that property, may then by an order require the owner/occupier to replace the fallen tree of the same or similar species on the same or another suitable site.

Section 4:
(1) What are the duties of the owner/occupier/applicant in the above cases?
In all the above cases, it is considered the duty of the owner/occupier of the land, who is directed to plant a tree, to ensure that the tree grows properly, is well preserved and report twice yearly for three years. It is also the duty of the owner/occupier of the land to preserve all other trees on the existing land, from the date on which this Act has come into force.
A written report is submitted. If the growth is satisfactory the deposit is refunded.

(2) Does the applicant have to make any payments for the same?
No, there is no payment involved but the owner/occupier may be required to deposit or specified sum of money with the Tree Officer to ensure compliance with the order.

Section 5:

(1) Is there any provision, which allows for the adoption of trees?
Yes, individuals/corporate bodies/institutions can get permission from the TA to adopt any tree for a specific period and be responsible for the tree’s maintenance and preservation.

(2) Can the applicant also seek to adopt a tree, instead of planting new trees?
Persons felling trees may adopt trees in lieu of planting more trees—the trees to be adopted must be less than a year old, and must not be less than the number of trees required to be planted. The person shall be responsible for the maintenance and preservation for a period specified by the TA.

Section 6:

What are the steps taken by the TA, when the orders are not complied with?
Failure to comply with TA orders ends in forfeit of deposit, in full or part. In addition the TA can recover the expenditure incurred by it for processing the case, from the owner/occupier. For the purpose of recovery of this amount, the TA shall have same powers as the urban local authority for the purpose of recovery of arrears of a property tax/betterment charges or other duties levied by the urban local authority under the relevant Act.

Section 7:

Can there be appeals against the orders made under Sections 2 and 3?
Those ordered to act in specified ways under Sections 2 and 3 by the Tree Officer may appeal to the TA within 15 days of receipt of order—appeals must be decided by the TA within 60 days of receipt. The TA’s decisions shall be final and not questionable in any court of law.

(Vinita Deshmukh is a consulting editor of Moneylife. She is also an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte. She can be reached at [email protected])



Suyog Khude

5 years ago

Hi Vinita,
I am thankful to you for sharing this valuable information. I was looking for this information and luckily got it through you & moneylife.
You have mentioned about Delhi High Court order of 2007; Delhi High Court order of 29 October 2009; ministry of urban development guidelines 2000; Delhi Tree Preservation Act, 1994 and Supreme Court order.
Can you please assist me by providing citations of these cases or any book to refer so that I can go through it before approaching Tree authorities.

My take-away from the Subramaniam Swamy talk at the ML Foundation’s 2nd Anniversary

“Choose a point, any point, and launch right in, as long as your approach is positive, your cynicism of any is balanced with pragmatism, and your overall goal is to try and leave more than just your immediate family in a better state than what they were in”

There were various high points at Moneylife Foundation’s second anniversary function organised in Mumbai’s Veer Savarkar auditorium on Sunday, 5 February 2012, and like the saying about beauty lying in the eyes of the beholder, it would be fair if I provided a disclaimer here first—I am an unabashed fan of Subramaniam Swamy’s tactics and strategies. Just like I am a fan of Mahatma Gandhi’s tactics and strategies.

Very briefly, these could be described as “positive agitationism”, if they could be classified. It helps if one adds the Creator, Preserver and Destroyer concept to this approach, realising that the beauty in the larger picture that unfolds is that there is no ‘ownership’ to a result process, as is commonly held to be so important.

So, choose a point, any point, and launch right in, as long as your approach is positive, your cynicism of any is balanced with pragmatism, and your overall goal is to try and leave more than just your immediate family in a better state than what they were in.

In other words, if your horizons extend to trying to improve matters for more than just yourself or your immediate near and dear, then you have certainly come to the right place. That was the biggest message which was being pushed out into the people thronging the hall, overflowing beyond capacity, and into the wide open world through an assortment of media.

# Elections in India, are they rigged as much as the IPL auctions, or is it more, or less? These are qualitative aspects, and considering that the IPL budget is in multiples of what the general elections cost in India, then there is a quantitative aspect here too. In short, if the stakes are high enough, then anything can be rigged. The fact remains, even the spy drones used by the Americans could be brought down by the Iranians. So would we think the stakes are higher with India’s elections which use an electronic voting machine (EVM)?

And at the heart of it are these EVMs, which are considered infallible, untamperable and technologically superior to all other electronic machines in the world. By our babus. Despite being almost a decade old. How absolutely incredible it is for the government and the Election Commission to believe that their EVMs are perfect; is best answered with another question—how many of us believe that ATMs, working on almost the same technologies, are fool-proof?

# A lot has already been reported about the outcome of the court cases initiated by Subramaniam Swamy variously. There also exists some reportage on the three-pronged method advocated by him—the Anna Hazare route of a series of new laws, the mass mobilisation route by Baba Ramdev and others and then the route which encourages using the existing system, laws and rules to achieve a common goal—reduced corruption.

However, according to Mr Swamy, the most important component would be to inculcate a positive attitude and remove cynicism in all approaches. This includes the drawing room and coffee-tea chatter that many of us subscribe to. Each small candle in the corner of a dark room and a mosquito at night would be two very good symbols—you have to be positive and do your little bit.

# The efficacy of the 3+1-month automatic sanction route for investigation and prosecution against government servants of all ranks has yet to be put to the test. This will not happen unless and until more people actually take this forward. Again, analysis is great, but reality is truth so the message that went across is that here is a Supreme Court judgement on the subject and here are you, the people, the Sovereign.

What this means at its simplest, to me, is that (a) in case of an issue, I file a complaint against a public servant or even a public authority with the local police station. If, after three months, I do not see progress, then (b) I file a simple RTI application with the same police station asking for information on progress of complaint. And if I still do not get a satisfactory response for any reason, then (c) I take the correspondence and approach the highest court in the land, the Honourable Supreme Court of India, by way of a simple letter to the Registrar there.

# At the heart of Subramaniam Swamy’s dream for a better India would be what he called the 10% rule. In other words, if even 10% of the people in power did their jobs honestly, then by the law of increasing returns, as well as by better use of perception management techniques, the laws of increasing returns would kick in and provide results in multiples. This is eminently possible, though some pragmatic aspects remain which; however, with modern technology and media dissemination methods can be overcome.

The reality here, however, is that in the considered view and opinion of some very senior people in governance who do come in the extremely honest category, 10% is very ambitious on date. And there also, the danger of being run over by “the system” for trying to be extremely honest is ever present. So, maybe Mr Swamy needs to add the concept of possible self-sacrifice to the 10% honest rule, too. The corridors of power are awash with vigilance cases, and more, against those who tried to buck the corrupt system.

He did say a lot more, but brevity has to find space too, so this much for now. These examples provided above are simply some of the ones that appealed to me. But everybody has a different takeaway from any form of social interaction, and more so if it is inspirational. This is meant to be nothing more than mine, that too a very brief report, and for a complete view, please read the other articles on the subject or better still, watch the whole proceedings, available online now, at the Moneylife website or also at MoneylifeTV on YouTube

(Veeresh Malik started and sold a couple of companies, is now back to his first love—writing. He is also involved actively in helping small and midsize family-run businesses re-invent themselves. Mr Malik had a career in the Merchant Navy which he left in 1983, qualifications in ship-broking and chartering, a love for travel, and an active participation in print and electronic media as an alternate core competency, all these and more.)



a v moorthi besides TIHAR

5 years ago

EC has repeatedly offered to tamper the EVMs but so far neither Swami or his friends like Jaya has done it and after winning last election Jaya has stopped her cry baby act. ATMs are tamper proof and every transaction is electronically recorded. Rather today some banks have have orgnised cash replenishment in such a manner that the cash bin is sealed from currency chest and installed in ATM and balance in cash bin comes to say less than Rs 10000/- that bin is taken out and replaced another one with approx Rs 14.4 lakhs so even cash misappropriation by staff is eliminated. except these there is nothing to dispute with Swami

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