Evil of drink

V.R. Krishna Iyer has dwelt on an issue that deserves national attention in his article on the drinking habit (Jan. 12). Alcoholism is one of the reasons for continued poverty despite decades of development efforts. The burden of this menace is borne by women belonging to the poor sections. They are forced to render hard labour to compensate for the non-availability of men’s income. Most often, their hard-earned money, too, is snatched away by their menfolk for liquor.

Another matter of concern is the impact of increasing alcoholism on the health of the younger generation. The quality of population is important in human resource development. If drinking becomes a national hobby, it will halt the HRD process.

Rameeza A. Rasheed, Chennai

Justice Iyer has rightly pointed out that alcoholism is an unmitigated evil and the root cause of many other social evils. I agree that the government should ban the production and sale of alcohol if it considers the elimination of poverty and bankruptcy an act of patriotism.

K.R. Anandagopalan, Bangalore

The long queues in front of liquor outlets in Kerala are indeed a matter of serious concern. The tacit support extended by the political fraternity and, by extension, the government machinery is equally worrisome. Filling the coffers, not employment generation, seems to be the driving force behind the government’s policy. I am pained to see that smoking, along with drinking, has caught the fancy of teenagers. The state is responsible for the welfare of society, and no welfare measure can be complete without addressing the problem of alcoholism.

Chitra Ganesh, Kottayam

The article is a bold attempt at making the state accountable for the evil of alcoholism. On the one hand, the States manufacture and vend alcohol and, on the other, offer health insurance cover. We need visionary leaders who can enforce a total ban on alcohol. The evil of alcoholism affects not only the families of those who consume alcohol but the entire society.

Nirmala Narayanan, Bangalore

Governments cite revenue loss as a major impediment to total prohibition. And they argue that they run the business to generate revenue for welfare measures. When Rajaji was asked to lift prohibition so that the government could earn revenue, he retorted that when he had given a milch cow in the form of sales tax, there was no need to generate income from liquor sales. If the government really has the requisite political will, prohibition can be implemented and alternative sources of revenue worked out. Governments must realise that they are abdicating their moral responsibility for filling their coffers.

M.D. Ravikanth, Chennai

Justice Iyer’s article provides a useful insight into how the state systematically destroys families for monetary gains. Liquor brings in crores of rupees to the treasury. Excise on retail liquor adds to the state’s coffers. Issuing of licences for bars fills up the personal coffers of local administrators. Besides, intermittent appeasements are doled out to officials in various departments by retailers and bars to keep the business running. And all this is done at the cost of the health of the alcohol addict, and the family that depends on him.

Varsha S. Shenoy, Mangalore

Justice Iyer’s article is timely. It is time the government realised that alcohol is spoiling society. It should not justify its patronage to the alcohol industry by saying it generates revenue and provides employment opportunities. Drinking changes the behavioural pattern of the working classes and brings down the quality of production. It also ruins their families and comes in the way of educating their children. Let the people in responsible positions ponder over these aspects. As a first step, the government should reduce the working hours of retail liquor outlets and announce dry days before and after any religious festival so that people can spend more on their families.

P.D. Shanmuga Sundaram, Chennai

Justice Iyer has raised an extremely important issue warranting a national debate. While I agree that drinking is a serious problem, the key question that needs to be answered is — will prohibition reduce alcohol consumption and crime? No law will work without the voluntary participation of people. The Gujarat model works because a majority in Gujarat has voluntarily accepted non-drinking as a norm.

Despite the best efforts of government, prohibition-related offences -- particularly illicit distillation, bootlegging, arrack and hooch tragedies -- are bound to occur, and this is where public commitment, participation and vigilance are called for. It is odd to think that the sale and ban of alcohol can be enforced before an election but cannot be enforced throughout the year. A law will not weed out the problem; nor will the declaration of dry days. A better way to address the problem would be through a combination of laws and government initiated programmes, awareness campaigns, rehabilitation programmes and so on.

Devulapalli Chakravarty, Visakhapatnam

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Printable version | Nov 27, 2021 12:44:36 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/letters/Evil-of-drink/article16837322.ece

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