Prohibition & Forbidden Fruit! – dr. james kottoor

James kottoorUse and abuse of liquior                            

Now it is Bihar which has introduced prohibition and the Hindu has written an editorial:  “Death by Liquor” published in CCV simultaneously. The following is a commentary on it.

The forbidden fruit has always been the most sought after tasty fruit from the time of God’s creation and the tragic story of Paradise lost. Still how is it that humans, called rational creatures, have not learned any lessons? Or have they (humans) decided to act with a vengeance  against a God who resorted to this stupid example, to teach Him a lesson using a tit for that: “If a God can do it why can’t I?”

Our first parents in Paradise would never have thought of the tasty fruit, had not God told them about it. Similarly no one would be going for cheap, spurious liquor had not governments in  various states imposed the draconian law of prohibition in their states. God has given various tastes to humans for food and drink and it is  for them to choose what they like and consume with moderation. Amithamayal  amruthum visham. (Even the best  godly food becomes poison when consumed beyond measure and restraint, says a   Malayalam proverb. Hence the saying: “Liquor is poison.”

This applies equally to drinking liquor. Whenever and wherever they introduced prohibition, it has turned out to be a cure  worse than the malady. But when taken with moderation it is an appetizer or digestive and a source to  boost the drooping spirits of a tired laborer. Please let no one therefore deprive him of his deserved relaxation. There are very legitimate times for relation and merry making in everyone’s life where wine and Amruth have their legitimate role to play.

At the marriage of Cana Jesus turned water into wine. That is  how he started off his public life with a wine party. All through life he was known as a friend of drunkards and prostitutes.  At the last supper he threw another wine party and said he will not drink again till he reaches his heavenly banquet. St. Paul advised his deciple Titus to give up his addiction to tea-tolalirism and take a zip of wine which is good remedy for his bad stomach. On eating (pork) also and drinking he, advises not to do it in the presence of those who are wrongly convinced, it is sinful and to eat one’s heart’s content privately and to one’s capacity, without  scandalizing anyone. You know the story of Job who drank one cup too much and lay naked, seeing which his children covered  his nakedness with   a sheet. Such things are rare and in between and therefore are no basis for slapping harsh laws on all and sundry.

Perhaps many don’t know  the story of “Old Monk” Rum. The story goes thus: It got the name because it was manufactured by Monks in Europe to provide unadulterated cheap liquor especially for the poor sections in Europe who cannot afford costly high class liquor.  But these Monks themselves who produced it never even taste it. They are  teetotalers. They did it or do it, as a service to the poor who too want to relax and rejoice. This is what Governments in various states should do — produce clean, neat, cheap liquor and make it easily available so that every one gets his/her due share when and where they need it. Equally governments should enforce strict laws against  those who take one peg too many and indulge in fist fights or drunken driving. This is done in many so-called civilized countries liker the US. That way governments can collect their more than due share of income through liquor trade and people will have their due share of fun and pass time at reasonable rate.

History teaches us that Prohibition has never succeeded anywhere in the world.  Hence the  statement in the article: “If prohibition were merely a matter of decree, India would have been free of liquor by now.” Besides all know that prescribing what to eat and drink  is an unjust encroachment on any one’s  individual right  to choose. Everyone gets head aches once  in a way. Precaution against it is not decapitating heads, but  resorting to proper medication. Similarly those who cross the redline in drinking should be subjected to strict punishment. A ruler who is prodigally generous in matters legitimate, can be also dictatorially strict in punishing those who break  legitimate laws.

In Bihar Nithish Kumar has a very good approval rating since he  is all concerned about the development of the State,  starting with the poorest. But no one can succeed to please everyone without ending up displeasing all. Prohibition is not the remedy for pleasing and protecting a few  women who get thrashed or ill treated by husbands who go wild after consuming few pegs. Isolated misconducts should be dealt with strictly and privately. So goes a poem: “I slept and dreamt, life is beauty, I woke and found life is duty.” Life is  both beauty and duty. It has to have its allotted time for hard work, rest, relaxation and sleep. So let not governments interfere in the legitimate freedoms of individuals to eat and drink  and merry making when they chose. The governments’ role is to act as an umpire to make sure that everything is done within the limits of Lakshmanareka.  Virtue always stands in the middle between: Abuse and no use, as Right Use!

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