Monday 20 April 2015

Liquor Sale Though Mobile Vans and Logic of Dry Areas

Written by Anil Singh

A section of people, mostly localities, are protesting Liquor Shops in district Uttarkashi. With 5 new liquor shops opened this year, the liquor shop count in the District has increased to 17.

What reasoning is being put forward to ban liquor shops in Uttarkashi?

That Uttarkashi is a religious place, home to Yamunotri and Gangotri and dozens of other ancient temples. That’s why ban liquor sale in the city of Uttarkashi and elsewhere.

Liquor Sale through Mobile vans

To placate the disappointment, the District Administration has decided to sell Liquor though Mobile Vans. A very absurd decision (in Hindi, "Ool Jalool soch").  Liquor sale through mobile vans will make it easily accessible to impressionable minds (children).

Absurd Thinking

Banning liquor (beverages such as alcohol, beer etc.) is often one sided and somewhat partial. In addition, it’s ineffective.

Uttarkashi or for that matter any other district can be a religious place. But that doesn’t mean people there are not consuming liquor. Such people, irrespective of how you see the act, have some rights as well. Banning liquor in any place only increases the Black marketing.

There’s another perspective of looking at the protests

Many groups have vested interests served by seeing a blanket ban on liquor sale in any place. These are hoteliers, Guest house owners, tour operators, camp owners and any one into the hospitality business. When a tourist demands liquor or non-vegetarian food in a religious place, he/she is provided the same at an exorbitant price. You may not agree, but studies have proved that making a place a dry area doesn’t decrease liquor consumption. In fact, it only increases the parasitic middlemen, police gaining from the unavailability.

From the past 20 years, temple building has become an equally enticing business in religious places. The religious trusts are not taxed, that’s why they are an easy money spinner.  Every street or lane in such religious places has at least one temple. Does that mean there will be no meat, fish or egg shop near on the street?

It has become a habit of seeing Liquor banning protests from one perspective only -- The perspective of the group demanding a ban.

What about the rights of those who have every right to consume liquor or non-vegetarian food? In contrast to those people who keep benefiting from such bans (temple owners, hoteliers etc.), all such people (who drinking) want is enjoy a peg or two in a leisurely peaceful manner. Why make the entire process tough on both money and mental peace.

There are logical ways of maintaining the character of a religious place

  • Open liquor Shops that are veiled. Why do we have a liquor shop which has an open counter, with flashy billboard, overlooking the road?

Why can’t the liquor shop be properly veiled?

  • Cities must have sections earmarked for non-vegetarian food and Liquor Sale

Why? As there’s consumption. Studies show nearly sixty percent of people in India are non- vegetarians. About 20-30 percent of people consume liquor in some form. Even those who vouch for liquor ban, for various reasons, sometimes consume it in privacy of their homes or other places.

  • Which came first must be the rule

It’s logical not to have a liquor shop near a school (although I don’t agree whether Hospitals must be put in that list); but the test here must be: Which among the two came first?

Actually this test applies to residences as well. If a liquor shop came at a certain place first, then it’s the responsibility of the administration of the Government not to allow a school in near it.

It’s really possible to have liquor shops and non-vegetarian shops in a religious place and still maintain the religious character of the place. It will allow the state of Uttarakhand to serve its tourists better (many of who are flocking Uttarakhand for Adventure Activities). It will be less hassle and less money spends for locals as well.

And we shouldn’t bother too much about the nuisance, as a nuisance creator is the same everywhere, irrespective of whether he/she lives in a religious place or a non-religious one.

  • Fixed Liquor shops are always better than Mobile Vans

The primary reason is : A liquor van can be placed anywhere making liquor easily accessible to impressionable minds (children).

Over the years, I have seen visibly double standards in our public and private lives. If we have resources to make something available to us even in a prohibited area, then we think it is alright for us to lend our public support to such prohibition. This is not GOOD. If buying something becomes illegal simply because the place prohibits it, then there’s nothing wrong in demanding the end of such a law.

Not to say much, this is a concluding thought for you:

Making Dry Area doesn’t decrease Liquor consumption. 

Dry area doesn’t decrease the number of family feuds. 

Dry areas only increase money spent on drinking habit. 

So instead of thinking all sort of facts, we must simply think about how to save impressionable minds (children) from drinking liquor and how to help those who consume it, consume it responsibly.

PS: Is it wrong to have Liquor shops in the following cities and towns of Uttarkashi? Ambedkar Nagar, Chinyalisaun, Nalupaani, Dinda, Bhatwari, Naugaon, Badkot, Joshivada etc.

If Army personnel in Uttarakhand are allowed to take their monthly Liquor quota to their villages and towns, then how can liquor sale is unjustified there? Tell you, Army liquor has a real sociological impact on Uttarakhand. We need to study that as well, if we want to understand the prevalence of liquor in Uttarakhand, including Uttarkashi.


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