June 29 newspapers carried a strange photograph. Excise
minister, Mrs Sudha Srivastava, obviously a woman,
besides being a Gandhian and niece of Lok Nayak Jai
Prakash Narayan, was seen seated beside the department
secretary, Amir Subhani, a fully bearded man, a devout
Muslim having association with Tablighi Jamaat, a
religious movement of the community. They both were
shown discussing in details with the mediapersons
the New Excise Shop Settlement Policy to be implemented
from today (July 1, 2007).
other things the two teetotalers explained
the positive aspects of the new policy.
The first and foremost being that it will increase the
excise revenue of the state from Rs 300 crore to Rs
700 crore annually. There will be a liquor shop for
every 13,500 people and that their number may in no
time get almost doubledfrom 3,200 to 6,200.
It is also being argued that the new policy would help
eliminate illicit liquor trade and there would be no
spurious wine left in the market.
some political parties have been opposing the new policy
we have some meek protests from old Gandhians and Muslim
organizations like Jamaat-e-Islami, Students Islamic
Organization and Emarat-e-Shariah. Former minister in
Karpoori Thakur cabinet, Mrs Sushila Sahay, another
close associate of JP, threatened to return all the
pension money to the state government in protest against
the new policy. On June 30, that is just on the eve
of the implementation of new policy students of Patna-based
Al-Hira Public School formed a human chain under the
banner Children Against New Liquor Policy.
Almost at the same time the activists of Rashtriya Mahila
Brigade, a woman organization, marched on the streets
of Patna to oppose the governments move. A couple
of days earlier children of another school of Patna
took to street for the same purpose.
irony is that till date the protest have not generated
the desired heat and the mainstream media too did not
bother to give much coverage. Other premier schools
of the state chose to remain indifferent so did the
more active womens organizationsboth
Left and Right leaning. The more vocal section of the
society appears to have accepted the fact that the state
government needs more revenue and that this is the best
way of generating it.
is being argued with a tinge of regret is that Bihar
has much less wine shops in comparison to the states
like Chhatisgarh, therefore, the revenue earning on
this count is much less.
the land of JP and Karpoori Thakurwho imposed
prohibition when he was the chief ministerand
the state in which Gandhiji launched his movement Gandhism
is being thrown to wind. There is no one in the role
of Gandhigiri around us.
increase in states annual revenue by just less
than Rs 400 crore is no big deal. But the big question
is something else. Taxes or duties are collected for
the welfare of the people and not for the government
to become rich. The government spends the amount on
the welfare of citizensit builds roads,
bridges, schools, hospitals etc. But taxes are not collected
to destroy the very social fabric, break families and
spoil the health of citizens. By giving too much emphasis
on more and more revenue the government in a way wants
to encourage the people to drink more. The welfare state
now is not bothered about the social and physical health
of the citizens.
can the government justify its new policy when on June
26, just four days before it came into vogue the assistant
sub-inspector of Agam Kuan police station, R N Thakur,
in inebriated state opened fire in a restaurant within
a kilometre from the residence and office of the chief
no dearth of R N Thakur in the police rank and file
how can the government say that the new policy would
put a check on the illicit liquor trade and control
the crime. The government can not justify its latest
move by stating that since there exists gangs of bootleggers
it has decided to eliminate it by opening many times
more liquour shops and earn more revenue. If there exists
a illicit liquor mafia than what is the government machinery
mute acceptance of crass capitalism and wine lobby by
Gandhians, Communists, the state government and the
civil society reminds me of the famous poem of the renowned
anti-Nazi German playwright Bertolt Brecht. The only
difference is that in place of Nazis we need to put
the expression the big business houses or multi-national
came first for the Communists, and I didnt speak
up because I wasnt a Communist.
they came for the Jews, and I didnt speak up beause
I wasnt a Jew.
they came for the trade unionists, and I didnt
speak up because I wasnt a trade unionist.
they came for the Catholics, and I didnt speak
up because I was a Protestant.
they came for me, and by that time no one was left
to speak up.
author is a Patna-based journalist).
While I respect your
opinion. I would like to ask some questions
1. Has prohibition worked in any state including Gujarat?
The stories of smuggling and related crime is all over
2. What has been the bad effects of liberalization in
the area of for customers airlines, telecom, car manufacturing,
cheese, milk, steel... or any other part of economy?
Haven't people got benefited by higher quality and lowering
3. Isn't society matured enough to know the ills of
'Bhang', Cigarettes, liquor or prostitution....? For
centuries people know how to handle all this and all
this prohibition and laws came into effect with British
regime. India knew how to handle it at family and society
4. What has been the link between crime and liquor selling
in the world? There is no link between the two what
so ever. Take example countries where it is banned and
where it is open - open societies have lesser crime