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Top writers on India’s AIDS trail

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Funded by Bill Gates, top writers on India's AIDS trail

Mumbai, January 19, 2008

During his recent stay in Mumbai, Salman Rushdie discovered the un-

magical realism of the lives of the city's eunuchs.

This, while Dalrymple shifted his gaze from the Mughals to

the plight of Devadasis in northern Karnataka and Nalini met a

newly-wed couple in Bangalore who discovered they were both HIV-


It's not a reality-inspired fiction that's on the writers' minds.

It's AIDS.

Along with 12 other celebrated authors, they are participating in a

unique initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that aims

to promote public dialogue about the disease in India and abroad.

Rushdie, however, left Mumbai ahead of schedule due to threats from

fundamentalist forces, the police said.

The authors will visit communities or families affected by HIV/AIDS

in the country to explore different aspects of the epidemic. Their

writings will be like news magazine reports compiled together, said

Parmeshwar Godrej, who has been closely involved with the project.

" I met widows and orphans and will write about how life goes on

despite HIV, " said , from Bangalore.

Vikram Seth, Kiran Desai, Amit Chaudhuri, Siddhartha Deb, Nikita

Lalwani, Faleiro, Shobhaa De, Jaspreet Singh, Siddharth

Dhanvant Shangvi, CS Lakshmi, Sunil Ganguly and Mukul Kesavan are the

other contributors to the cause.

The anthology, with a foreword by Amartya Sen, will be published in

August. The Gates Foundation hopes it will humanise the epidemic.

Around 2.5 million Indians are living with HIV, with some of India's

most marginalised communities hardest hit by it.


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