Writers and social activists who have been writing on the issue of drinking and prohibition think that total prohibition is impossible and advocate toddy tapping and brewing of indigenous drinks.
“Total prohibition will lead to illicit brewing, hooch tragedies and give police a free hand to deal with the situation. It is dangerous. Instead of allowing Indian Made Foreign Liquors, we can opt for toddy,” said writer A. Marx, who has written extensively on the issue.
Even though Mr. Marx described as highly condemnable and unacceptable for a government to run liquor shop, he pointed out no country in the world had succeeded in implementing total prohibition.
“The US announced prohibition immediately after the First World War but lifted it after the Great Depression. In the erstwhile Soviet Union, Lenin banned liquor, but subsequently allowed it,” he said.
C. Nallusamy, general secretary of the Federation of Agriculturists, who has been spearheading “Tamil Nadu Toddy Movement” said the government should regulate the sale of toddy.
“We have witnessed hooch tragedies in the past. Prohibition without any alternative for drinking may force habitual drinkers to resort to drinking poisonous substances including varnish,” Mr Nallasamy said, while reiterating that the policy of a government running liquor shops was totally unacceptable.
Part of culture
Both Mr. Marx and Mr. Nallusamy said toddy was treated as a food in Tamil culture and there were literary references to drinking of toddy and other brew for health.
Wine was imported from Rome and it was also locally brewed by filling honey in bamboos. When Tamil king Adiyaman died, Avvaiyar penned a poem in his praise, saying he would always share toddy. There was no festival that was complete without serving toddy or indigenous brewing to the guests in the Tamil society. Sahitya Akademi winner Nanjil Nadan said total prohibition was probably a great imagination.
“This does not mean that I turn a blind eye to the evils of liquor consumption,” he said.