14 April 2009 @ 10:51 am
Seems like the fact that a cup is worth five years of pads in India is causing some surprise(ref. to my previous post). I thought I'd explain that.

1. Exchange rates. 1 USD = Rs 50 and more, currently. Rs 50 in India is going to buy you a LOT more basic amenities than $1 in the US. For example, I can get a chicken roll on the street for Rs 15($0.3), or at the best places for Rs 25($0.5). A piece of pastry at well-known chains in the city for Rs 35($0.7). An 8-pack of Kotex is - I kid you not - Rs 22. Yes, that's hardly forty-five cents. O.B tampons are Rs 166 for a pack of 20, that's $1.5 for 10.
I was a Whisper Ultra/Whisper Choice girl in my pad days, and since I bleed light, I'd need hardly a dollar's worth every month. Whisper, manufactured in India and doesn't have to pay for the international Kotex brand name, so provides twice the quality Kotex does, at about 1.5 times the price.
Most of the rural population still uses rags. Yes, rags. Not our beautiful and comfortable cloth pads.

2. Average standard of living. In my city, a healthy young adult can survive easily on Rs 10,000. Which is $200. Including house rent. The Rs 2000($40)-odd I'm spending on my cup is equal to my travel+snacks+cellphone budget for a month(I'm a college student so that's how I measure, lol). Of course, Kolkata is probably the cheapest metro in the world ... living in Mumbai is nearly 10 times that expensive.
But yeah... the postage for my cup would get me a pair of nice pump shoes, lol. Or a T-shirt. The cup itself costs me as much as 50 mL of Nina Ricci perfume, lol.
Electronics obviously cost the same everywhere, since it's a global market. Then again we also get Chinese stuff dirt cheap, might be cheaper here than there. Not sure really.

3. Things are, in general, cheaper here. Reason #1: It's available in plenty. The land is fertile, we have an ENORMOUS population so labour is incredibly cheap... cost of production gets slashed right there.

I guess I'm rambling now... basically I just wanted to give you guys an idea of how ridiculous the Alicia Cup thingy is. And also to show you exactly how hard it's going to be to create a market for menstrual cup users in India.
On the other hand, a 5-day bleeder who uses OB tampons would have her cup pay for itself in about two years... less if you count inflation. And given the benefits of a cup, I feel it's worth that much. So slowly, I guess the rich women in India might get interested in cups and find a way to produce them locally. I'm sure that'll work out cheaper. And then there are people like me, who feel that the long lifespan + increased comfort + "I love my cup factor" outweigh the majorly steep cost.

PS: Mods, I'm not sure how to tag this!

Current Mood: geekygeeky
(Deleted comment)
bookworm_chantybookworm_chanty on April 14th, 2009 01:46 pm (UTC)
I lived in India for 4 years. On my mom's crappy salary as a secretary we had a 3 floor + basement house with marble floors and stairs, we hung out at classy hotels during the weekend (for the pool and restaurant), had 3 maids, a driver and a cook and my sisters and I got more money to go waste with our friends than most Indians make in a year >_<

I'm so going back someday! (Oh, and I love the food and the people :P )
Jackieagraciado on April 14th, 2009 11:43 am (UTC)
thanks for the breakdown on all that! When I read your first post, I did pause when you said the cup costs five years with of pads. This post was really interesting!
hiriel1804 on April 14th, 2009 12:00 pm (UTC)
Very interesting post :)
In Norway, which is more expensive to live in than the US, for example, the cups are comparatively cheaper. 30 USD is 200 NOK, which won't get you very far in Norway. You can get a DVD, or maybe two, for that. A cup that lives for ten years > two DVDs :)

Now, you won't get a cup for 200 NOK in Norway, but since you hardly get cups at all here, that doesn't matter. I love it when the dollar is cheap ;)
mercy rainmercy_rain on April 14th, 2009 12:06 pm (UTC)
O.B tampons are Rs 166 for a pack of 20, that's $1.5 for 10.

That's actually pretty close to what they are here. A box of 40 (I've never seen a 10-pack) is about $7 (and $1.5 x 4 is $6). Which is interesting, given that your other examples were MUCH less expensive than they would be in the US!
Dina Clare: dreamlintilla on April 14th, 2009 12:16 pm (UTC)
My guess would be it's because the OB tampons are coming from the US, possibly even directly.
radicalancient on April 14th, 2009 04:35 pm (UTC)
Quite likely, that.
So... is OB one of the "trashy" tampon companies?
morejellytoastmorejellytoast on April 14th, 2009 05:38 pm (UTC)
Oh, I hope not! I used them before I got my cup and I loved them a lot, never had a problem with the tampons or the company.
Katherineeexposed on April 14th, 2009 08:16 pm (UTC)
Haha, me too, I used them because of their lack of extra applicator biz that would just create more garbage, which a) I didn't want to deal with, and b) I thought was a little more friendly to our dear old earth. Not -that- much more friendly, but y'know, doin' my part and all that.
radicalancient on April 15th, 2009 02:37 am (UTC)
LOL :). I got kinda confused by a comment on my last post saying you only got crappy tampons for a dollar per box.

I didn't like OB much myself. Guess tampons are just not my thing.
erica057: ecstaticerica057 on April 14th, 2009 07:20 pm (UTC)
Thanks for clearing that up :)

This makes me feel that her "humanitarian" efforts would be better focused on providing cups for women's shelters in the USA. Tampons and pads are expensive!
miyavi_loli on April 14th, 2009 07:34 pm (UTC)
Definitely that would make more sense...that is if she wants to help the greatest number of people and still manage to keep business going.
Katherineeexposed on April 14th, 2009 08:18 pm (UTC)
Well, this isn't really a constructive comment, aside from saying that this Samantha Backman lady looks really rather shoddy - looking at her website, it looked very unprofessional, and looking specifically at the "mango juicer" made me literally laugh at the ridiculousness of it. Can you imagine if a woman in the places where this sex toy is being marketed got caught using it for its intended purpose? Just.. egh. Sounds like a poseur-humanitarian lady overall.
* Louise *lougolas on April 14th, 2009 11:30 pm (UTC)
Great post! I'd love to go to India one day, my friend was there last year and said it was wonderful. I'm absolutely fascinated by the prices, I remember thinking $11 for a box of 40 Tampax tampons was so cheap when I was studying in the US (I'm from the UK)! It blows my mind to think anywhere could be cheaper. Mind you, the exchange rate was pretty much $2:£1 when I was there :-)
radicalancient on April 15th, 2009 02:45 am (UTC)
I'd love to go study in or near London some day. Not so good for me! :D
Do come along, just be prepared for some MAJOR culture shocks ;).
Kartos Dal'Avier: Osaka worriedkartos on April 15th, 2009 01:25 am (UTC)
Let's pretend for a second the whole producing them there scenario is real... couldn't they make them more cost effective?
radicalancient on April 15th, 2009 02:43 am (UTC)
I honestly don't see the point of braving the endless health risks that will occur from cup use by uneducated people who hardly get clean water to drink. In some areas the drought hits so badly that people have to walk for miles to get water. Who has the luxury to use a cup?

On the other hand, we have loads of cotton - I think India just crossed USA to reach the post of 2nd largest cotton producer. Why not employ local people in manufacturing cloth pads, and sell them to villages at non-profit rates instead? That would provide some much-needed employment to village women, and also get them quality menstrual protection.
And then if they created better quality cloth pads through the same cottage industries and marketed them well... that would be the day! Oh well, a girl can dream, right?
Kartos Dal'Avier: Cigarkartos on April 15th, 2009 02:58 am (UTC)
Yeah, cotton would be the best way, considering the ease, price and lack of education, plus you don't want any issues with insertions and whatever taboos. There's enough taboos and "Eww that goes where? In my vagina?" from women in the USA and we're supposed to be sexually free.

That reminds me of a portion in The Art of War for Women by Chin-Ning Chu, where she talks about how breaking into an already established market can be extremely hard. She says to do what Walmart did, and you will be so strong when you come to the harder areas, you won't go down easily. If you don't know, Walmart went to the "less desirable" areas of America, such as the prairies, midwest and places not as concentrated with cities or people, and opened up the store for everything. The flourished and now it's everywhere, and they provided a lot of jobs. if only they paid worth a damn
Dina Clare: fuller! on less food!lintilla on April 15th, 2009 07:29 am (UTC)
Plus, I'm guessing that sewing is a skill that many village women tend to have already.
NineThumbsUpfreedomliberty on April 15th, 2009 04:15 am (UTC)
Please Read
I read this article a long time ago and posted it on my cup activism site. I think it makes some great points.

radicalancient on April 15th, 2009 04:29 am (UTC)
Re: Please Read
Yes, it does make some decent points. But I'd like you to elaborate on your own views too :).
If you look at a reply I made above, I'm also all for DIY cloth pads - which is pretty much what most women use, in more primitive form.
NineThumbsUpfreedomliberty on April 15th, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC)
Re: Please Read
I really wanted to stay neutral because I would really like to believe the Alicia people. But my sarcastic nature leads me to side with you on this one. Not to mention, I don't know anything about Africa, and have no business saying if what they promised is feasable. I just think every woman everywhere should get to use whatever she wants. It's just too bad people have to make money off of natural bodily functions.
melissa569melissa569 on April 16th, 2009 12:43 pm (UTC)
This is a pretty interesting post... I wish I had enough money to just move to India and not work anymore :). Well, actually I could do that, if I went without my husband, because I could just live with his mom! But I love him too much to be that far away... As I said in a previous post, my husband is from India (Goa, to be exact). His widowed mother owns a home there. Between my husband and his older sister (who lives in London), my mother-in-law probably gets $200-400 per month to live off of. It would be more, but money is tight right now, so that's all we can afford to send her. But I know she would LOVE it if me and my husband showed up there in Goa and said, "Hey mom, mind if we move in??" lol. Oh well, maybe some day?