There was interesting news couple of years before which was sourced to BBC and covered in some of the newspapers. A survey of more than 1,000 men in India has concluded that condoms made according to international sizes are too large for a majority of Indian men.

The study found that more than half of the men measured had penises that were shorter than international standards for condoms. It has led to a call for condoms of mixed sizes to be made more widely available in India. We quote from BBC “The two-year study was carried out by the Indian Council of Medical Research. Over 1,200 volunteers from the length and breadth of the country had their penises measured precisely, down to the last millimetre. The scientists even checked their sample was representative of India as a whole in terms of class, religion and urban and rural dwellers. The conclusion of this entire scientific endeavour is that about 60% of Indian men have penises which are between three and five centimeters shorter than international standards used in condom manufacture.

Doctor Chander Puri, a specialist in reproductive health at the Indian Council of Medical Research, told the BBC there was an obvious need in India for custom-made condoms, as most of those currently on sale are too large. The issue is serious because about one in every five times a condom is used in India it either falls off or tears, an extremely high failure rate. And the country already has the highest number of HIV infections of any nation. [Condoms Too Big for Indian Men by Damian Grammaticu—BBC 10-12-06]. It is shocking that the Government or the manufacturers did not think about Indian standards or yardsticks and adopted an attitude of one size fits all in such a critical area for the last fifty years with such disastrous results of one fifth failures. That Western yardsticks are appropriate to Indians is carried to the extreme in this case.

It is not clear whether we have rectified the situation in the last few years or still continue to do what in Bangalore we call as “Swalpa Adjust Madi”

Another news item I found regarding the lack of apparel size charts for Indians. It says that “ The National institute of Fashion Technology [NIFT] has launched a research initiative to create standard apparel size charts for Indians as has been done for apparel markets in US and Europe……This would give rise to quality fit –. Tirupur exporter’s Association President A. Sakthivel informed that though we export garments across the globe, we follow the size charts supplied by our importers. The US and Europe have standardized size charts but we do not know the size for Indians. This was again few years before. Now, I understood the ill-fitted shirts and trousers in to which Indian men try to get into. That is why I need to join Talwalkar’s every time after buying readymade suit to fit into it! This is part of “adjusting” ourselves to global yardsticks.

The picture regarding inner wear is more acute for both men and women since US standards are totally useless in our context since our size and shapes are different. The same is regarding the standardized size charts in foot wear. We have the US sizes or European sizes but not that of Indian. Between 8 and 9 there are many foot which either drag along with a longish shoe and struggle in a tight fitted one. The small ones over the wide ones and the application of oil and hurt toes are all part of adjusting for the globalization.

Few years before I suggested to a well known diary company that there are not many names starting with Q or with Y and Z and suggested that they could modify their telephone index portion of the diary by giving more pages say to R or S since at least in south India there are more names in that category etc. This was before storing all numbers in mobile phone as per our wish. I am of course an “Alphabetically Challenged”[AC] person with name starting with the fifth letter from the last. All my friends in school like Aravind or Ashok used to get chocolates on Independence days and only I and another poor Xavier were left out since the teacher insisted on queues based on alphabets and chocolate supply was less than the demand. May be, I could form an Association of AC’s with lots of Chinese becoming members since the most common starting letter for them is X or “Z’. Be that as it may.

The Chief of the Diary Company located in India and making them mainly for Indians wrote back saying that we should learn to “adjust” to international standards or yardsticks. I could never figure out what he was suggesting and continues to strike out O and Q and X Y Z from the pages of the index and use it for P, R and S T and U V’s

The other day when I was being taken in a bus from the Airport to the aircraft I found that the handle bars are not reachable while standing. It was explained to me that it is meant for an Average European or American and hence I have to hold the side part of the bus or the adjacent passenger and in the process develop closeness. The other day a cell phone provider gave me a form to fill it up. It is worst than those American Visa forms where if there are more than five letters in your name then you are out. The print is small and the space for name and address is further small. You need to have two letter name and a five letter residential address. But my address with all the crosses and mains cannot be accommodated even in six lines. But I was told that these are internationally designed forms –may be by global consultants- and one possible solution is to change my name to fewer letters and shift my home.

The same thing is happening to Bank forms and even the simple deposit slips getting global with small sized boxes with clear threat called instructions to fill it up one letter per box and the last part of name which is not accommodated has to wait for the next form! The forms also ask for the father’s name which is twice as long as mine. One solution would be to keep cash with us rather than in the Bank since mutilated names of a father is a cardinal sin under our belief.

The most hilarious adjustment was to be made by me in a rest room in a five star hotel since the Urinals have been fitted taking in to account US and European standards. It was too tall for an average Indian like me and hence has to feel like a young boy in rest room for men. The same story continues in modern restaurants who adopt high fashioned tall chairs—which does not help your feet to reach the floor- assuming all their customers are from US or Europe.

The Indian consumer is slowly known as “Mal [L] Adjusted Middle class” eternally trying to live up to Western Standards and Yardsticks with not much success. At least in the coming New Year when India is the flavor of the globalizing world let us resolve that the Bangalore way of “Swalpa Adjust Madi” is replaced with standards and yardsticks which are useful to the Indian customer and Indian Consumer.


The author is Professor of Finance and Control, Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore, The views are personal and do not reflect that of his organization.

(Image Courtesy- Citizens against Swalpa Adjust Madi)

Citizens against ‘Swalpa Adjust Maadi

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Professor Vaidyanathan

Professor Vaidyanathan

The author is Professor of Finance and Control, Indian Institute of Management-Bangalore, and can be contacted at The views are personal and do not reflect that of his organization.
Professor Vaidyanathan

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