Are communists with money hypocrites? (Technically, no. Their plan is to distribute wealth equally.) Do vegetarians have double standards when they eat potatoes? (No, potatoes don’t cry out in pain like peas do when the latter are forked.) Joining these philosophical queries is: isn’t it ironic when those selling liquor are told to imbibe the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi? That seems to be the case in Delhi, where employees of the Delhi State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (DSIIDC) who man government liquor stores, have been given free tickets for the film Lage Raho Munnabhai on Gandhi Jayanti.
Surely, the greatest teetotaller that our country ever had would have told them to give up their jobs? The Mahatma was keen that India be a ‘teetotalitarian’ State. When the Father of the Nation strongly disapproved drinking, what choice did those who framed our Constitution have of keeping mum about alcohol consumption. Article 47, that deals with the State’s duty to improve public health, dutifully talks about the need to “endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption, except for medicinal purposes, of intoxicating drinks”. With such a wish in place, the State can look at its citizens in the eye every ‘Dry Day’.
But it is not easy to live up to the high standards of a man with the highest standards. So as one remembers Gandhiji every October 2, the non-teetotallers among us pay homage by staying away from intoxicants. All of us, DSIIDC staff included, want to be better men. But till we manage to become that, we shall make do by other means, such as extolling sobriety on special days.