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Dire consequences in Tamil Nadu over 'refusal to heed' Rajaji's advice on prohibition

By NS Venkataraman* 

C Rajagopalachari (popularly known as Rajaji) was recognised in his time as one amongst the most enlightened intellectuals in India. Apart from being a freedom fighter, Rajaji excelled in several other areas and was a great writer, speaking and writing on variety of subjects including world peace and disarmament, need to promote free enterprises, moral and ethical value in public life, religions and so on.
Rajaji was born on December 10th December, 1878 and passed away on December 25th 1972 and lived for 93 years.
On Rajaji’s recent birth day on 10th December, 2022, the day largely passed off without the people in India or the people in Tamil Nadu to which state Rajaji belongs, celebrating his birthday, recognising his contribution to the progress of the country and his achievements.
Of course, Tamil Nadu Governor paid tributes to Rajaji n th Raj Bhavan and a few state ministers garlanded his statue elsewhere. This event was not even reported in most section of the media. This is unlike the way that the nation observes the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhai Patel. Former President Dr Radhakrishnan’s birthday is celebrated as teacher’s day every year.
In this scenario, non-observance of Rajaji’s birth anniversary on 10th December, 2022 adequately to remember his contribution is conspicuous and unfortunate.
Mahatma Gandhi hailed Rajaji as his conscience keeper, which is the ultimate tribute for Rajaji’s sense of honesty and courage of conviction. Later , Gandhiji declared that Rajaji was his successor. He further told that “Rajaji sees at least six months ahead of him”.
There are several instances that revealed Rajaji’s capability to think beyond his time and make his views clear and providing advice to the existing governments. Unfortunately, a number of his valid suggestions were not accepted by those in power at that time and the value of some of his suggestions were realized much later and implemented.

Rajaji’s view on prohibition

Amongst many of Rajaji’s suggestions of far reaching importance, let us take only one, namely his call for implementing total prohibition in Tamil Nadu.
On a rainy Tuesday evening on July 20, 1971, Rajaji, in his ripe age, met the then Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Karunanidhi at his residence and pleaded against lifting prohibition, which Rajaji believed would hurt future generations adversely. It was reported that Rajaji, the former Governor General of India, was made to wait for some time for the meeting which took place for 20 minutes .
It is reported that more than 50% of men folk in Tamil Nadu have succumbed to liquor habit
Sadly, this advice was not accepted by the then Chief Minister Karunanidhi and his government, which lifted prohibition. The adverse consequences of such decision are seen today in Tamil Nadu.
During the last six decades after the lifting of prohibition by the then DMK government, the liquor habit amongst the people of Tamil Nadu have increased by leaps and bounds. It is reported that more than 50% of men folk in Tamil Nadu have succumbed to liquor habit and even youth and students in the teen age have started taking liquor. What is alarming is that even women are now slowly falling to the liquor habit. It was really shocking to hear the recent news that school going girl students joined together and consumed beer in public.
With widespread liquor habit steadily developing in Tamil Nadu, the social fabric of the state have been uprooted and life of women, in whose family menfolk have taken to liquor habit, have become hell like. Women are being beaten, harassed and left without earnings of the menfolk, who spend their earnings on liquor. Many believe that in such condition, Tamil Nadu will be moving towards socially unstable state with value system in life going for a toss.
Rajaji anticipated all these problems and pleaded with the then DMK Chief Minister, who did not listen to him. Tamil Nadu is now paying the price.
There is no indication that conditions will improve in the near future, as Tamil Nadu government is now heavily dependent on liquor sale income , even though liquor habit is causing social and family disturbance to an extreme level.
There can be so many other instances where Rajaji anticipated events, as he could think beyond his time.
It is sad that such a great person is not adequately remembered today, with younger generation not being well informed of the role model like Rajaji, who lived with great wisdom.
---
*Trustee, Nandini Voice For The Deprived, Chennai

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