Sunday, December 4, 2022

Consequences of total prohibition

(From previous issue)
The aim of reducing drunkenness and domestic violence through the ban hasn’t been fulfilled as well. As till today, there are no such reports indicating the correlation between prohibition and decrease in drunkenness or domestic violence. Instead, there has been a sharp rise in public drunkenness all over our society over the same period, and this is exacerbated during election season when alcohol flows like the Nile River across villages and towns.
The menace of alcohol poisoning and its related ill effects too hasn’t subsided either but instead has increased tremendously over the past decade as in an independent report by Senior Specialist Naga Hospital Authority Kohima (NHAK), Dr Angto stated that a total of 4,051 patients were admitted with alcohol related ailments and a total of 473 patients died from it between 2013-2018. This is but a fraction of the number of actual deaths and ailments caused by alcohol as it did not count private hospitals and clinics which are the main centers where people go for treatment.
An additional consequence is that a large number of non-locals too are employed in the sale of alcohol, and making a fortune out of it in the black-market which they have taken great advantage of owing to our lack of will-power to shut their illegal businesses. Thousands of such small shanty shops are open all over Dimapur and Kohima catering to our Naga citizens who will gladly hand over their hard-earned money to these non-locals who will in return, go back to their respective states and build their private homes and buy cars and other goods for their families and relatives.
The underground too has profited from this very trade which they oppose against in the open yet collect huge taxes from the traders and sellers alike.
Everyone has a lot to gain through the enforcement of this ban except for the ordinary citizens who continue to lose out on a lot of opportunities. And for which they suffer heavy consequences not just in loss of lives but also financially.
The manner in which this ban has been implemented says a lot about our willingness to curb it as can be seen from our actions. The police, organizations or the Assam Rifles can post as many news stories about destroying IMFL as they want, but everyone can see through that façade clearly. Alcohol is here to say and it will never leave our shores until the day of judgement comes.
Although advocates for legalization have been demanding that the act be repealed for many years now, the stubbornness among one section of the society, who continue to turn a blind eye in the face of reality, continues to press the brakes over it. Our state government too has been silent over this issue this whole time till the Covid-19 Pandemic hit and they woke up from their delusions.
As the pandemic inducing lockdowns showed how economically and financially vulnerable we are, the government has started to weigh in on the option of a partial upliftment so as to shore up our revenue losses. It is hoped that sanity prevails over whatever decisions they make in this regard.
Compromises and adjustments can be made, restrictions and implementation of areas where it can be sold can also be negotiated. Quality control measures and stopping the sale of spurious liquor should be at the forefront. Cost benefit analysis need to be carefully studied as well. So too does giving of legal licenses to bona fide individuals be one of the solution towards increasing employment opportunities for our Naga citizens.
As for whether or not it is morally acceptable to drink or not, the only thing left to say is, “To each his/her own.”
M Levi Longkumer
Agri Colony, Kohima

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