Prohibition means to prohibit. It has come to stand for prohibiting the drinking of wine. Almost all the religions are against the habit of drinking or preparing liquor. In the Bible it has been written more than hundred times. Prophet Mohammad considered every berry of grapes the abode of devil; Hindu saints have always been against it. In the modern days a new class has come up. George Bernard Shaw considered a drunkard a second rate citizen. Gorbachev the last president of the former USSR stopped the serving of Vodka (famous Russian wine) in party meetings.
Individually drinking is responsible for starvation in the family. It results in quarrels resulting sometimes in suicide. Sex and violence follows drinking. That is why as soon as congress ministries were formed in seven provinces (now states) efforts were made to impose prohibition.
After independence prohibition was introduced in nine states. From 1946 to 1956 it was a great success. But it was found that Mumbai become a big centre of bootlegging (illegal trade in wine) ultimately a committee was formed headed by Justice Tek Chand which recommended complete prohibition from 2nd of October, 1969, But even before it Uttar Pradesh had started anti-prohibition move. Gradually, leaving Gujarat, all the states scrapped prohibition. But in Gujarat Porbandar the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi become the biggest centre of bootlegging.
Many bureaucrats, businessmen and even politicians were opposed to the implementation of prohibition. Some economists too spoke in their favour. Their view was that if prohibition is imposed it would mean a loss of Rs. 1000 crore as taxes in the eighties. Now it would mean a loss of 10,000 crore. But in its implementation the Government has to spend Rs. 50,000 crore. Thus in reality it is a loss of Rs. 40,000 crore to the nation.
The question is can India having a hit climate afford to support the habit of drinking by aping the West. Western countries are cold countries. They can afford it. Moreover 50% the population in India is below the line of poverty. It is these poor people the spurious wine that kills many a people. Drinking leads to promiscuity (free sexual relations) both among the rich and the poor. It leads to bribery to meet their evil needs; it gives rise to flesh trade and brothels. A report concluded that AIDS is spreading like a wild fire in India.
It is well known that in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat— and elsewhere too—is backed by smugglers and mafia. They are on the face—respected citizens having close connections with politicians and ministers. They sell spurious wine under different names and are never brought to book.
The only way of stopping this evil is the efforts of NGOs (Non Government Organizations). 30% of the members of Panchayats are women. As women are the most affected persons they can organize themselves against this evil. We can take the example of Monody a village on the slopes of Kodassery hills in Kerala. It was the biggest centre of brewing charayam (hooch). 147 of the 500 families depended on this trade. Kaitharath a middle aged man began anti-alcoholism drive in late nineties. He was opposed by the mafias of the producers excise inspectors and policemen. But his and his friend’s firmness brought all the political
parties to support him. By 1991 production and drinking of charayan was totally stopped in the village. The lead of this Kerala village was taken up in some village of Himachal Pradesh and U.P. in 1995. Prohibition came back to Haryana after a stern step taken by rural housewives. The evil has taken a strange turn. The government gave preference to freedom fighters to have licenses. It was rather a shameful act. Many
freedom fighters who had sit on dharna before wine shops took licenses who will now inspire the youth of the country to remain away from this poison.