It seems that politicians of the country have suddenly woken up and smelt the beer. Using the Mangalore attack on women as a trigger, Union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss, ever the activist, has joined the chorus that pubs go against ‘Indian ethos’. But why now, pub and club owners ask.
Reacting to Ramadoss’s statement that pub culture prevents India’s progress by turning the youth into alcoholics, Saurabh Khanijo, owner of IVY and Kylin, asks, “If that’s so, what about countries that are more advanced than ours? Their pub culture is much bigger.”
And what about thekas and wine and beer shops? “I see men having pavement booze parties after buying bottles from wine shops,” says Samira, who lives in Dwarka. Can’t the guardians of culture thrash them, she asks.
Shiv Karan Singh, owner of Smoke House Grill, is baffled by the hoo-ha. “Why not just ban alcohol then?” he says. “If not pubs, people can go to house parties, five-star hotels or thekas. Pubs are licensed and pay large excise duties. And they generate so much employment.”
“Ramadoss can’t impose his personal thoughts on the pub business,” asserts Kunal Lalani, co-owner of Kuki XO. “His stand on smoking is okay, but this is not.”
“If a person can vote at 18, why can’t they make choices? Rather than curb pubs, they should educate people about all this in school,” says Samir Chawla of Blues, as “the more restrictions you bring in, the more people see it as a challenge and do it illegally”.
Sohrab Sitaram, owner of Tabula Rasa, feels this anti-pub stance makes no sense. “The excise department wants to let some pubs stay open 24X7, because they get the most revenue, and then we hear these statements!”