Sunday, 26 January 2020

Prime Minister’s “Mann Ki Baat” On Intoxicants

Updated: May 23, 2015 12:24 pm

Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his “Mann ki Baat” warned the nation about the disastrous consequences of encouraging the use and trade of liquor and other intoxicants . He made a very startling disclosure that the income from this trade goes to the terrorists who attack our soldiers, guarding the boarder of our country and making the highest sacrifices for the nation

These intoxicants are spoiling the youth and increasing the crimes in the country, should we patronize this dangerous trade of intoxicants and invite disaster to the common man & the country? was his question to the people. If actually we understood his concern, he had hinted for prohibition.

Gandhiji had said that in a poor country like India total prohibition is absolutely necessary. In one of his articles “ Prohibition of Intoxicants as published in Harijana on september,09 1947 , he wrote, it is criminal to spend the income from sale of intoxicants on education of nation’s children or other public services . The government must overcome the temptation of using such revenue for nation building purposes. If we eradicate this evil we will easily find other ways and means of increasing nation’s income. People of this country are well aware of Gandhiji’s campaign against the evil of these intoxicants as he was of the firm view that this spoils the common people and specially the poor and the down trodden.

Knowing full well that the harm caused to the people and the nation by this trade is many fold than the benefits, state governments are patronizing this on the plea of raising resources for their state-exchequers. They don’t bother for the increase of crimes like rape, murder, dacoity, loot and loss of life in roads and other accidents due to intoxicants. I strongly disapprove this dangerous attitude of some state Goverments and their rulers.

For example, let us take the case of my home state Odisha. The Government of Odisha has taken a policy decision for expanding the production and trade of intoxicants specially the liquor. Its entire argument is that without the income from liquor, development of state is never possible. In 2000 when we had BJD-BJP coalition Government, the issue of raising resources from this source was discussed in the cabinet meeting. I opposed the expansion of this trade and cautioned the chief minister and my cabinet colleagues about the dangerous impact it would have on the people of the state. I also placed some portions of the Tekchand committee report which had clearly said that harm caused to the people by this trade is many fold than the benefit the people would get. I very firmly said that it would bring disaster to the people of such a poor state like Odisha. My argument was that crime in the state would increase and the poor people and specially the adivasis whose population in the state in about 24 percent would be worst sufferers . Since it was a coalition government and I was a very senior minister and leader of BJP, the chief mnister tried his best to persuade me not to oppose this policy and other cabinet ministers supported him. Under such circumstances the resolution brought by theexcise department was passed in the cabinet meeting. Then on my insistence it was decided that no liquor shop would be opened near schools, colleges, hospitals and other public places and where people would raise objection. Some months ago I had written an article in the most leading daily news paper of Odisha, The Samaja insisting our state Govt., specially the Chief Minister for total prohibition in Odisha. My plea was that people of Odisha are very poor, unemployment is extremely high, agriculture is completely neglected and crimes are increasing in an alarming manner. So in the interest of the people, government should abandon the policy of expanding the liquor trade . I had said that in a budget of about 82 thousand crore for 2014-15 can’t the Govt. manage without funds raised from liquor trade of the state which was only 2150 crores. I had also pointed out that the tax and non-tax revenue of the state came to 27,000 crores and with the Central government’s grants on different heads it became 67,000 crores . So why patronizing the liquor manufacturing and its trade and spoiling the people of the state. There should be total prohibition in the state, but in vain. It is very unfortunate that the State government was not interested to hear such argument and was very keen to raise more resources from this trade every year. As a result liquor shops have now been opened massively both in rural and urban areas of the state.

Now there is anti liquor agitation all over the state and demands are being made for total prohibition by Odisha Nisanibarana Coordination Committee. In many places women are taking the lead and destroying liquor shops and the liquor manufacturing places. But the government still unmoved.

This is not only the case of Odisha, this policy of patronizing the production & trade of intoxicants is being adopted by most of the states in the country on the plea of raising resources. I feel there should be national debate on the question of prohibition. Considering the great harm caused to the nation and the people and when so many other avenues are opened for raising resources by Government, cannot we take a policy decision for total prohibition? Should we accept the arguments of different states that development would not be possible without income from liquor and other intoxicants? Should we ignore the warning of the Prime Minister that the income from this source goes to the terrorists. After experiencing the dangerous impact of the intoxicants on the people, should the state governments close their ears to the advice of Gandhiji and the Prime Minister. PM’s “Mann ki Baat” in this regard being a true reflection of the Mann ki Baat of all the sensible people of this country , this deserves deep consideration.

By Biswabhusan Harichandan

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