A hundred years ago December 2, 1921 Archives

From the Archives (December 2, 1921): The most drunken place

Surat, the old gate-way of the English to India and the cradle, so to speak, of the Indian British Empire is, it would appear, also the most drunken part of the country. Mr. A.L. Emanuel, I.C.S., in one of his papers read before the East India Association, London, on the city of Surat, speaking of the Kolis, a unique race of hardy seamen, fishermen and labourers of the place, makes the following admissions regarding the original importers of the curse into the historic city. “Only one great fault have these people, over-fondness for the toddy cup, which the countless river side palms under Government control supply, and for the less wholesome factory-made liquor which Government distils for the Indian public-house. Surat has the credit or the discredit of being perhaps the most drunken place in India. Here again, perhaps, we have a trace of fashions set by the old English merchant adventurers; but potations which would be taken as moderate in England would create scandal or alarm in frugal and well regulated India.”

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