Tuesday, November 25, 2008

AIDS Sutra

Author: Multiple Authors (Anthology)
Pages: 345
My Rating: 4.0/5
AIDS Sutra presents a side of India which is rarely seen before. This is one book which needs to be read by a wider audience. It will definitely open your eyes to the harsh realities faced by people in the underdeveloped & underpriviliged societies.

AIDS Sutra is an anthology put together by the 'Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation', which is a collection of 'untold stories from India' by 16 renowned authors. These stories deal with a wide range of subjects, all with a common theme of the major problem facing the developing world (HIV/AIDS), starting from those innocent children who acquire this deadly disease by birth, to sex workers, homosexuals and transgendered people.

India is home to 2-3million HIV cases. Ignorance and prejudice have been the 2 most contributing factors for the rapid spread of this deadly disease; it is still stigmatized and people live in denial. This is where books such as 'AIDS sutra' play an important role. These stories not only humanise the tragedy of the HIV/AIDS victims, but also admire their courage and respect the victims without getting sentimental or showing pity. Authors such as Salman Rushdie, Vikram Seth, Kiran Desai, Shobha De, Nalini Jones, Siddhartha Deb, William Dalrymple have uncovered the realities behind this epidemic writing candid yet refreshing stories about their real-life encounters with the AIDS victims in India. Amartya Sen's introduction in the beginning, about the injustice committed through prejudice is extremely thoughtful and downright awesome!

The very first thing that you realize reading this book is the fact that ignorance about AIDS is still widespread in India. Though India does put up an image of a developing country and a growing technology giant, when it comes to matters of sexuality, it still in dark and has a long long way to go! It is this kind of an attitude which is actually impacting the treatment and prevention of HIV/AIDS to a large extent. Sooner the people realize this, the faster will be the progress.

If you are planning to pick up this book at any point, let me warn you - the facts stated in the book through these stories are extremely disheartening and depressing. This book, as a fiction would be very heart-breaking; so you can imagine how sickening and horrifying it could be as a non-fiction (based on true stories). It took me nearly 1.5 months to finish this. Every story would have such a deep impact on my emotional state that it would just get impossible for me to continue reading. I have given up reading this a couple of times during the course; but finally decided that I need to read it to get the real picture of the state of this disease in different parts of India - which otherwise you would never get to see...

If you have read this book, I would love to know if you share my views and if you really did manage to read it completely or did you give it up midway, unable to deal with the depression?