Evolution of Condoms in India

Evolution of Condoms in India

Condoms occupied a strange curiosity throughout the history. Condoms resulted due to the exploration of a concept called ‘safe sex without conception’ Condoms underwent tremendous changes right from the days when animal intestines were used down to the modern day latex condoms.

According to historical evidences, condoms have been in vogue since 1640, when King Charles I ordered his army men to use sheaths made from animal intestine to reduce soldier fatality at that time when he came to know that several of his army men contracted syphilis from prostitutes. Further King Charles II used it to reduce the number of illegitimate children due to his sexual activity.

Charles Goodyear, an American inventor significantly changed the face of the condom. He was the first to produce rubber condom during the year 1860. He produced condoms on a large scale and made sure it is affordable to the man even in the lowest rungs of society.

Later, in the year 1920, latex was invented. Latex was the revelation that transformed condoms into what they are today. They now have a very high tensile strength and can now be stretched up to eight times before they fail.

The breakout of AIDS, a sexually transmitted diseases in the 1980s made condoms an indispensable item in the social life and fuelled its popularity. Since 1980s condoms began to be accepted into the society as something that is important not only to prevent sexually transmitted infections, but also to prevent unwanted pregnancy.

In more modern conditions, rubber latex condoms can be produced at a swift rate of 3000 per hour and can be lubricated with spermicide and even flavored. The discovery of AIDS as a sexually transmitted disease in the 1980s brought about the popularity of condoms as a contraceptive and as a use of prevention of sexually transmitted diseases.

The modern world gained an improved understanding of venereal diseases as it was incorporated in health education in schools, in social magazines, and government programs promoting safe sex.

Condom Evolution in India

Indian government decided to distribute condoms in the year 1963 as a measure to population control. The government initially decided to distribute government made condoms in the name of ‘Kamaraj’ as it is associated with sex. But during that time, the President of the ruling congress was K. Kamaraj (A towering personality and widely acclaimed Chief Minister from Tamilnadu)

So the government decided to change the name and introduced NIRODH, meaning protection. Nirodh went on to create history in the country’s family planning movement.

As usual, Nirodh evoked tons of curiosity and people were eager to see the product, feel it and it became a matter of joy for people to touch it and feel secretly. But Nirodh was a great success and it played a significant role in reducing the population explosion in India.

The timing was apt and it helped the country fight population explosion effectively. It was the collective effort of management academics, corporate groups, international funding agencies and top advertising agencies, backed by the Union government, which brought the spectacular success of Nirodh.

Government of India received support from International agencies such as Ford Foundation, USAID and Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).  The government used ‘social marketing’ and condom was introduced as just ’25 paise’ so that it is affordable to anyone and everyone across social stratum.

As condom production was not there at that time, government of India imported condoms from US, Japan and Korea. In 1968, the first shipment of 400 million condoms (in line with prevailing population then) was imported and all had identical packaging, each box containing three condoms and all branded Nirodh.

In the first few years, three-fourth of the stocks remained idle with distributors as people were reluctant to try condoms because of lack of knowledge. But soon, with sustained marketing efforts by the government, things began to change.

In the year 1969, Hindustan Latex Ltd (HLL) set up the first condom factory in Thiruvananthapuram with an annual production capacity of 144 million pieces.

The production doubled in seven years which competed with population growth to touch 800 million by the year1985. The sustain the growth momentum, HLL commissioned another manufacturing unit in Belgaum, Karnataka.

Now HLL produces the world’s largest variety of condoms. Now we have multiple brands selling several million condoms every single day across the length and breadth of the country.

Now condoms are widely accepted and young men and women are encouraged to use condoms and get habituated to safer sex options. This progressive protective device has gained such popularity that a forecast of 18 billion condoms is predicted to be used in the year 2025 alone.

Now, we can only expect the condom usage to increase in the days to come. And much of the credit should go to the humble NIRODH, which played a significant role in stirring a silent but effective revolution in India.