Drinking means the habitual use of liquor. It is considered an evil because of the ill effects it produces on a person who drinks. It makes him lethargic. It tells upon his health adversely. It also disturbs the equilibrium of his mind. He loses all sense of decency.
All our religious books condemn drinking. According to The Mahabharata, drinking makes a man mad. It is a sin against man and society. A drunkard easily forgets the sense of morality. He spoils his health. He also loses his character. He becomes a selfish person. He spends all his earnings on drinking. He leaves very little money for his wife and children. While he enjoys liquor, his family starves. He becomes a slave to the habit of drinking. He does not mind sacrificing the interests of his relatives and friends for the sake of a few drops of drink.
Unfortunately, drinking is more common among the poor strata of our society, especially the workers. They spend their hard earned money on drinking. The result is that their family suffers. They bear the brunt of self- inflicted misery. Their children cannot afford school fees. They, therefore, do not go to school. They remain uneducated. When they grow up, they cannot find good jobs. Their life becomes miserable.
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Worst still, the workers take illicit liquor because it is cheaper. They hardly realise that such liquor is just like poison. It can prove fatal. Many a time, newspapers have reported that hundreds of workers have gone blind on consuming illicit liquor. Some even lose their lives.
The production in our mills and factories is dependent on the health of the workers. If the workers resort to drinking, it will reduce their efficiency and affect their productivity. Drinking adversely affects the lives of the poor and backward people.
Therefore, drinking has always been decried by all the religious leaders of the world. Prophet Mohammad of the Muslims condemned the habit of drinking and declared it a taboo for his followers. George Bernard Shaw, the famous British author, also condemned the evil of drinking. He was a teetotaler. The Hindus consider drinking to be a sin. Mahatma Gandhi, the Father of our nation, also condemned the evil of drinking. He favoured the introduction of prohibition throughout the country.
Mahatma Gandhi once said, “If I were appointed a dictator for one hour for all India, the first thing I would do would be to close without compensation all the liquor shops, destroy all the toddy palms.” He felt that the devil strikes his helpless victims with his two arms of drugs and drinks. The drunkard indulges in crimes of which he will be much ashamed later on in his sober moments. The drunkard is unable to distinguish between his wife, mother and sister.
It was in deference to the wishes of Gandhiji that the fathers of our Constitution included prohibition as one of the Directive Principles of State Policy in Part IV of our Constitution. On 2nd October, 1975, the Government of India announced a “12-Point Programme.” These points are as under:
1. Discontinuance of advertisements and public inducements relating to drink.
2. Stoppage of drinking in public places like hotels, restaurants and clubs and at public receptions.
3. Barring of liquor shops near industrial, irrigation and other development projects in order to keep away the workers from drinking.
4. No liquor shops to be allowed along highways and residential areas in towns and villages, nor anywhere near educational institutions, religious places and colonies of labourers.
5. Pay days in different areas to be uniformly “dry” days.
6. Strict restrictions to be enforced on motor vehicle drivers and pilots; any infringement of rules to be punished with the cancellation of their licences for a sufficiently long period.
7. Government servants of all categories, including employees of public undertakings, to abstain from drinking in public; drunkenness while on duty to be severely punished.
8. No new liquor shop to be opened in any part of the country merely to earn more excise revenue.
9. No licence for creation of additional capacity or expansion of existing capacity for distillation or brewing of alcoholic drinks to be granted save in cent per cent export-oriented cases.
10. The existing legislation to be tightened up with a view to punishing the guilty effectively special mobile squads to be organised for the purpose where necessary.
11. Widespread and concerted propaganda by official as well as non-official agencies against the evil of drinking.
12. Leaders of public opinion to set the tone by their personal example.
Despite these measures, the evil of drinking persists in India. There are many reasons for it. First of all most of the States are averse to the introduction of prohibition because it entails a loss of substantial revenue. Secondly, drinking has come to be associated with social status. Those who do not drink are looked down upon as backward people. Thirdly, prohibition affects the tourist inflow to our country. Foreign tourists are used to drinking. If they do not get liquor in India, they will skip over India and go to some other country for relaxation and enjoyment.
In the circumstances, the only way to tackle the problem of drinking is to educate the people through radio, T.V. and the press about the evil effects of drinking. In this way, people should be persuaded to give up the evil habit of drinking for the sake of their own health, for the welfare of their family and for the general good of the society at large.
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