The Gujarat model is spreading like a cancer throughout India. Kerala and Bihar have fallen victim to it and Tamil Nadu is on the verge of succumbing. Unless we take immediate measures, the disease is certain to metastasise to other parts of the country.
I refer, of course, to the sudden epidemic of booze bans in several states, which will have disastrous consequences for the nation. What is it that keeps your average worker at his soul-destroying, dead end, no-hope job 10-12 hours a day? The thought of a tipple at the end of a hard day, of course. Every evening millions of workers, the backbone of the economy, patriotically cough up huge amounts of taxes as they knock down their booze. Do the politicians care? No sir, they have hatched a diabolical plan to snatch the drink out of the mouths of hard-working people. The upshot: The economy will go down the drain as workers, denied life-giving sustenance, pine away. Our only hope lies in the entrepreneurial bootlegger. After all, the sole reason Gujarat’s economy has been able to stand the strain is the sterling contribution of the local bootlegger.
Consider the beneficial effect of alcohol on health. Booze has an amazing ability to pickle everything, especially dodgy food. As a famous medical treatise points out, ‘All animals are strictly dry/They sinless live and swiftly die/But sinful, ginful, rum-soaked men/Survive for three score years and ten/And some of them, a very few/Stay pickled till they’re 92.’
But it is the social degeneration that is most worrisome, due entirely to people drinking too much coffee and tea. These unwholesome drinks scar the intestines, making folks grouchy. Even worse is our bacteria-infested water, which leads to a dyspeptic and amoebiasis-tinted outlook on life. It’s no wonder our non-alcoholic dyspeptic leaders have brought our nation to the mess it is in.
Consider the impact of alcohol on the world’s great nations — whisky and gin made the British empire, beer made Germany, wine France, bourbon the US, vodka Russia, while sake is the reason for the rise of Japan. Even we were great when we drank somras in ancient times, enabling us to discover the zero and surgery and astronomy and what not. But it’s been downhill ever since we abandoned somras, with Aurangzeb delivering the coup de grace when he banned alcohol. No wonder the British had such an easy time conquering us. As Descartes nearly said, ‘I drink, therefore I am.’
Do our politicians care? Nope, they are willing to hypocritically risk all to appear holier-than-thou. They can get drunk on power and pelf, but the masses have nothing but drink.
We must accordingly start a new political party, the Cocktail Party of India, which will meet every night at the nearest bar to fight for the Right to Booze. We will have booze satyagrahas or boozagrahas and we will march, or rather stagger and stumble and lurch to Delhi in a boozeyatra to the prime minister’s office where we’ll raise the slogans, ‘Har har Modi, ghar ghar toddy’ and ‘Ab ki baar, beer bar’.
That’s all for now, the bottle is empty.
Manas Chakravarty is Consulting Editor, Mint. The views expressed are personal.