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Blog: I Resent Wine- For- Nitish- Cabinet Campaign

Posted: Wednesday, 13 January 2016 13:52


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Blog: I Resent Wine- For- Nitish- Cabinet Campaign

Jan 13: Ignorance about wine being distinctly different beverage than liquor is still prevalent in India, especially in the political circles as is evident from the anti-alcohol campaign to be launched by the Hindustani Awam Morcha (HAM) president Jitan Ram Manjhi on April 1, labelling it as ‘Wine for Nitish Cabinet’ and focusing on Bacardi Rum variants, as wine is practically non-existent in Bihar. I resent and I wish to lodge a strong protest against his misusing and misrepresenting the term ‘wine’

Click For Large ViewWhile the Former Bihar chief minister is welcome to protest against a government policy, even though choosing Fools’ Day might not be an appropriate day for the launch, I strongly resent and protest against his naming it as Wine for Nitish Cabinet thus indirectly maligning Wine. He ought to choose the label more appropriately, including liquor, alcohol or booze or even daru but not wine.

In reality it may be unfair to blame him totally for his ignorance. The decades old legacy left by the indifferent Brits resulted in their allowing naming the liquor shops as ‘Wine Shops’ selling English wine when in fact they used to sell only liquor. The mislabelling and misnaming has stuck and has become a norm than exception throughout the length and breadth of India. It is being further perpetrated by wine illiterates like Mr. Manjhi who may be a good democratic leader or a politician but need not show his ignorance about wine in public.

That he is ignorant about the problems raised by prohibition is another matter. Examples of Maharashtra, Haryana and Kerala are blatant (it doesn’t even work in Gujarat where prohibition is considered necessarily evil for political reasons). Where are they going to raise the Rs. 5,000 crores of taxes they earn from alcohol sales? (Although I strongly believe that the taxes on sale of alcohol should not be seen as a cash cow- this was not envisioned by our Constitutional forefathers). It is a wishful thinking that with prohibition, people will stop drinking alcohol.

According to the definition of WHO, I believe a vast majority of people who drink country liquor or even cheap liquor (I am not talking about wine which has not yet reached the State for all practical purposes according to wine producers and importers) are categorised  as alcoholics who need to recognise that they have a problem. The State perhaps needs to support and extend even financial help, to help promote more Alcoholic Anonymous types of organisations. Alcoholism is a disease for which prohibition is not the cure. Politicians are known to make crores of rupees by aligning with the bootlegger mafia, though I am sure Mr Manjhi has no such nefarious plans.

CM Nitish perhaps realised the negatives of prohibition when he made lofty promises as an astute politician. But it may be said in his favour that he promised  banning liquor-not wine and beer which are both not in the liquor category. So whenever he needs to, he can follow the Kerala model and allow only wine and beer-both low alcohol products.

Talking of low alcohol, Bacardi Breezers or Bacardi colas are not my cup of tea or glass of tipple and I hold no cudgels for them. But Mr. HAM should be happy that low alcohol drinks are on offer giving option to people who don’t have access to the other low alcohol beverages like wine and beer. It’s absurd to accept that they will be sold to children at the grocery store. Legal age is defined for each state-in Bihar it is a sane 21. HAM should protest against these drinks being served to under-21 and insist that the state excise department is vigilant. Dharnas outside such outlets, if it was allowed at all, would be a perfect democratic way of protesting and even courts would give a sympathetic hearing to HIM and HAM I will be willing to personally join him in such dharnas.

But he ought not to call the campaign ‘Wine for Nitish cabinet’. And if the State has not enough liquor bottles (I wonder what happens to the liquor empties of the closet drinking politicians-  Certainly they won’t have empty wine bottles). One hopes his party people are not busy emptying the bottles in order to send them to the CM. If he is desperate for empty wine bottles, we can help him by requesting wine drinkers to send all the empty wine bottles to Bihar Bhawan to make his campaign legitimate and literal. He also ought to educate himself to fight better- Bacardi Breezer has 4.8% alcohol and Cola, according to a report in ET has almost double of what he says- 8%!!

But I’d much rather HAM does not ham it up anymore and changes the name of the campaign about to be launched on Fools’ Day- April 1 to something like ‘Booze for Nitish Cabinet, Daru for Nitish Cabinet etc. and leave wine alone-there is already too much confusion. We don’t like him to create more.

Subhash Arora

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