Skip to main content

Following Gujarat model? Nitish Kumar, Medha Patkar pledge to campaign for prohibition, a "British" legacy

By Our Representative
Several civil and human rights organizations have come together to support a Gujarat model allegedly floated ever since the state was founded, 1960 – prohibition. Forming Nasha Mukt Bharat Andolan in order “pledge” to make a society drugs and liquor free, delegates from 15 states participated at a well-attended meeting in Delhi to chalk out an action programme.
Led by well-known social activist Medha Patkar, and held under the auspices of National Alliance People’s Movements (NAPM), the meet was blessed by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, who recently imposed prohibition in Bihar. Earlier, Kerala’s now defeated UPA government imposed prohibition, allegedly in order to garner electoral support.
Kumar claimed prohibition has had “positive people’s response” with a “huge reduction in criminal activities”, and promising the NAPM – an apex body of tens of people’s organizations – that he would “join the movement not as chief minister but as a member and activist for the cause.”
The meet comes amidst new facts having coming to light (click HERE) suggesting that, as against the general view that prohibition is a Gandhian legacy, it was in fact imposed by the British in 1888 in areas now forming Gujarat.
A Gujarat-based sociologist Prof Vidyut Joshi’s two-part study on the impact of prohibition in Surat’s rural and urban areas has been cited to say that going tipsy in the South Gujarat region once was historically a way of life, a part of culture, which shouldn’t have been abandoned.
Prof Joshi told Counterview, “More as a desire to control the liquor market, the British allowed only that liquor to be sold which was manufactured by the government. It gave license to sell liquor to those whom it trusted, many of whom happened to be Parsis. Descendants of those who had these licenses have surnames like Batliwala, Daruwala, Tadiwala.”
Prof Vidyut Joshi
He further said, “Before this happened, the tribals in South Gujarat were used to drinking mahua, extracted from flowers of mahua trees, found aplenty in eastern hilly region of Gujarat. They would mix mahua in chapati and sweets. Mahua flowers would be used to incense water. Tribals formed 50 per cent of the South Gujarat population.”
“Similarly”, he said, “Tadi was extracted from palm trees along the sea shore, where 15 to 20 per cent of of the South Gujarat population lived. They are mainly fisherfolk – Khervas, Machchis, Tandels, Naviks and Kolis. Fishermen would have to remain in the sea for several days, often weeks, and tadi used to be their only pastime during the highly unorganized life they lived.”
Pointing out that following the British control on alcohol, illicit liquor replaced Gujarat’s rural and urban areas, Prof Joshi said, during the British says, “Slurry would arrive from sugar mills in far off Uttar Pradesh in railway wagons. It was needed for quick fermentation. Similarly, the denatured spirit used in dyes in cotton mills began being used to make hooch.”
Today, there is “no change” in the situation, with “poor people consuming illicit liquor in order to release tension and dying in tragedies after consuming its poisonous content”, he added.
However, Patkar insisted at the Delhi meet that prohibition should be imposed, coining a new slogan, ‘Paani Chahiye, Sharab Nahi’, referring to how people are being deprived of Narmada waters because of the diversion of the Narmada dam waters to rich farmers and industrialists.
Speakers at the meet – in which delegates from Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Delhi, Odisha, Gujarat, Tamilnadu, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Karnataka, and Kerala participated – insisted that women, children and society in general have “suffered”, impacting the “overall development of society” because of the liquor menace.
The meet claimed that the liquor lobby and drug dealers’ lobby is being “protected” by various governments, and revenue loss is cited as the reason. In Uttarakhand, liquor is feely available, evidently to “please” tourists, but local demand for prohibition has been ignored.
“Police in Maharashtra have filed cases against the protesters rather than acting against liquor mafias”, speakers said, adding, in Rajasthan, the government bowed down to “liquor mafia and removed prohibition which was imposed in 1980 follows a 12 year struggle.”
“More than 5,000 people have died and 25 lakhs people have destroyed their life socially, economically, and due to impact on health. People suffer a loss of revenue 100 times the revenue earned by government”, speakers said.

Comments

TRENDING

Why do I lend my support to voices protesting world class renovation of Gandhi Ashram?

By Martin Macwan* One would not expect an activist working on Dalit rights to join such a protest. Dalits carry unhealed trauma that Gandhi caused to Dr BR Ambedkar and the Dalit cause of effective political representation by using violent means of his own definition in the event of the Poona Pact. This apart, Gandhi’s ideas in general, which changed often, on caste were orthodox. I have nothing to add to the subject after the sharpest critique offered by Dr Ambedkar.

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Inaccurate gender-relevant data 'spoiling' government policy on Covid social impact

By Simi Mehta*  The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been different across vulnerable groups. They were hit by the pandemic at various stages, whether it was accessibility to medical treatment or financial support. The second wave witnessed human suffering at a level where one can never forget the traumatized faces of people due to the inaccessibility and unavailability of essential medical services such as hospitals beds and oxygen. The probability of the third wave has also been one of the major upcoming challenges.

Flamboyant 'demagogues' adjust politics, personality in shadow of democracy

Modi, Erdogan, Bolsonaro By Ajit Singh The terms dictators and demagogues are used interchangeably in various contexts, but there is a difference. The former rule over a totalitarian states where governments are able to exercise complete influence over every aspect of citizens’ life, whereas the latter are a "wannabe dictators" but due to the system of checks and balances they are are not fully capable to create police states.

Vindictive raids? Centre 'retaliates' after Delhi govt child rights body's clean chit to ex-babu

By Our Representative  Over 700 academics, advocates, activists, civil servants, writers, film makers, journalists, musicians and artists have condemned the raids by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) on the offices and private home of top IAS bureaucrat-turned-human rights and peace activist Harsh Mander, stating, the aim is nothing but to “harass and intimidate” him.

Protests break out as school going children 'branded Naxalites, taken prisoners'

By Sheshu Babu* Conditions in all spheres of life is going from bad to worse. On September 13, Political Prisoners' Day was observed. On that day, Jatin Das, friend of Bhagat Singh and member of the Hindustan Republican Socialist Association, passed away after 63 days of hunger strike. He demanded 'political prisoners' status to those who have been jailed by the state.

Celebrating birthday amidst image of 'coerced, submissive' India ruled by a strong leader

Pushkar Raj*  As the weeks long birthday festivity of the leadership was being rejoiced India wide, the Covid was still raging in several parts of India. The carnival was in line with the post-Covid decisions and actions of the leadership demonstrating a pursuit of personal power and glory instead of national interest in times of disease and death.

Catholic women warn: Kerala Bishop turning Church into puppet in political games

Counterview Desk A group of Catholic women under the banner Concerned Catholic Women of India has said that they are deeply concerned over "a bishop’s controversial statement" which may threaten communal harmony in India. As many as 89 Catholic women from across India have urged the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India and its Kerala unit to take special steps to "foster peace and avoid strife."

Politically-motivated: Global NGO network on ED 'harassment' of Harsh Mander

Counterview Desk  CIVICUS , a top global alliance of civil society organisations seeking to strengthen citizen action and civil society around the world with a claimed membership of more than 10,000, objecting to the alleged harassment of IAS bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander by the Government in India, has said that the the the Enforcement Directorate (ED) raid on his house and office highlights “an ongoing pattern of baseless and politically-motivated criminal charges brought by the authorities against activists across India”.