The Nitish Kumar government’s announcement of alcohol ban is a welcome step. Though bans are not a sign of healthy democracy and should be opposed strongly, as a women I welcome this ban. The chief minister has kept his electoral promise to the women of Bihar and it is commendable that he has decided to fulfil his promise.
Many people are not very happy with the ban, see it as an encroachment on individual rights. But before we jump to conclusions, we need to look at the other side of the issue. Going beyond social drinking, and ‘cool’ weekend parties, we should not forget that our society is made of many other social strata where liquor consumption has proved to be detrimental.
Liquor consumption, leading to addiction, is a cause of social problems and many lives are destroyed by this one act alone. Sadly, women and children are the worst affected although men practice this evil too.
Not many people are aware of the negative effects of liquor consumption on the socio-economics of the society. I myself got to see the ugly side during my internship in a charitable hospital. Most patients came from the economically weaker section of the society with loads of problems, but the most common cause of their problems was liquor.
Daily wage workers, auto rickshaw drivers, cab drivers etc were all addicted to alcohol, blindly squandering their meagre income on the liquor leaving the family to face poverty. Women were forced to work as domestic help or take up petty jobs to support themselves and their kids. Some would mortgage their houses or cabs only to cater to their addiction.
Any attempt to stop the men lead to quarrels and in worst case domestic violence. It wouldn’t be wrong to tell that liquor consumption was one of the factors abating domestic violence in many households. Most liquor being adulterated also lead to death on consumption or lifelong health problems.
Many women spend a god part of their lives taking care of their sick husbands who are bedridden only because of alcohol addiction. The cycle of loans and economic deprivation would continue for generations.
One doesn’t need to even go to a charitable hospital to see the effects of alcohol, you just have to look around and talk to your domestic help, and most would have almost similar stories to tell. Drunk husbands wasting their incomes on liquor, returning homes to ugly episodes of wife-beating and in some unfortunate cases molesting of girls in the family.
The pattern is so common that many people don’t even protest against it and now alcohol addiction has become an expected norm. People protesting against the liquor ban seldom see beyond the modern facade and fail to look at the ugly side. Even if pointed out, many tend to look away, trying to ignore about it. The number of households destroyed by alcohol addiction is too huge to be ignored and the lower strata people are the worst victims. And this addiction is common across all religious groups; no one is immune to this evil.
Not that the other sections don’t consume alcohol or are not affected by it but the families in the lower section are the most vulnerable. Their socio-economic problems are only aggravated by alcohol addiction.
The women of Bihar have for long being victims of this evil and have wisely put across their problems to the political parties at the time of elections. Kudos to Nitish Kumar to have gauged the pulse of women voters, promised them to ban liquor if elected and even more commendable to have kept his word without succumbing to any political pressure.
Even Gandhiji had recognised the negative effects of liquor on the poor and had advocated alcohol ban. His home state Gujarat has been implementing alcohol ban, Manipur and Lakshadweep also have imposed liquor bans and Kerala is implementing the ban in a phased manner. Surprisingly, the opposition parties have also supported the government’s decision.
Many people may argue that the people would now engage in illegal trading of liquor in Bihar or go to the neighbouring states to procure liquor. Both the options are possible but this should not deter the government from making an effort to help the affected households. Just because people will find ways for breaking or twisting laws doesn’t mean that the society would succumb to such blackmails and give up on efforts on reforms. We need to look beyond our horizon and see the plight of families suffering due to liquor addiction.
As a women and a responsible citizen, I welcome the decision and applaud Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar for keeping his word, and also hope the administration will effectively implement the ban.