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A Stranger Truth: Lessons in Love, Leadership and Courage from India's Sex Workers

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  58 ratings  ·  9 reviews
When Ashok Alexander left a high-profile corporate job to head Avahan, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation s programme to stem the growth of the HIV epidemic in India, he was plunged into an India far removed from the comfort zones he had lived and worked in all his life. It was a grinding place where women sold themselves for fifty rupees and fourteen-year-olds ...more
Hardcover, 312 pages
Published November 30th 2018 by Juggernaut
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Jan 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
I really liked reading this book especially because I know nothing about India's sex workers community and the country's HIV epidemic. The book was not only a 101 on one of the most discriminated and stigmatized communities in India but a moving portrait of the people in this community. Also, came to admire and respect the author Ashok Alexander - it was refreshing to see an elite Indian male be so open minded and willing to engage with sex workers.

Two minor cribs - first, thought that the book
Sahil Pradhan
Jan 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How did all this start?

In 2002, a major report predicted an Aids catastrophe in India. The country would have 20-25m Aids cases by 2010. People were being infected at the rate of about 1,000 a day. Aids orphans numbered 2 million. This scourge would ravage families, society, and the economy. India was going to be the Aids capital of the world.
But 2010 came and went. India averted an Aids epidemic. That victory – India’s biggest public health achievement – has remained uncelebrated. But a new
Bernie Gourley
Nov 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In 2003, Ashok Alexander left a prestigious job at the advisory firm McKinsey and Company to head up the Gates Foundation’s HIV/AIDS prevention program for India. He had no experience in public health and faced an HIV prevention challenge on a scale and of a nature that hadn’t been seen before. This book describes his experiences -- and sometimes those of others in Avahan (the Indian HIV Prevention program.) However, the emphasis isn’t on patting himself and his team on the back so much as ...more
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As a development worker, researcher rarely do you come across a book that not only details and describes the lives of the people it touched and transformed but also evaluates and documents the approaches that enables programme growth and evolution. Ashok Alexander portrays the moving world of sex workers, transgenders and MSM (male to male sex) and also devotes a chunk of the book on how Avahan, a flagship program of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in the early 2000s. Ashok, a former McKinsey ...more
Ubah Khasimuddin
Nov 06, 2019 rated it liked it
I thought this book would be more about the lives of sex workers in India and while it does have a significant focus, it is I think, ultimately a leadership type book - at least the entire second part of the book.
The author was some big-wig at McKinsey Company (and he lets you know it!) and he takes the reader through his journey of being hand picked by the Gates Foundation (and meeting Bill and Melinda) to lead their foundation's work in the early 2000's on countering the spread of HIV in
Dec 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An amazing story of India’s little known success in HIV prevention & control, at a time it was threatening to become a serious public health crisis. It is a seemingly unlikely story of making a mission impossible possible by empowering some of most exploited segments of India’s population. It’s a story of hope from despair, of compassion and creating trust and of leveraging the power of community. Ashok Alexander tells this story from the point of view of the project proponent leading the ...more
Uma Sastry
Jun 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very well written book.
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Amazing read, takes you through a dark underbelly of the society which we tend to overlook
Deepa Antony
Apr 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Lessons in Love, Leadership and Courage. This is what this book, 'A Stranger Truth', offers you. This book by Ashok Alexander is a reality check for India. At the same time it is a heart wrenching tale of India's underbelly and a tale of women empowerment in its truest sense.
I want to thank for this copy. And also for giving wings to such real and powerful stories from India that need to be read.
If you are a budding entrepreneur, or a humanitarian or simply want to know the real
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