A bad decision

The West Bengal Government has decided to reduce the number of dry days in a year from twelve to four and a half days. Henceforth liquor will be available on Kali Puja day, the Ashtami, Navami and Dashami days of Durga Puja. Liquor sale will be prohibited only the Republic Day, the Independence Day, Gandhiji’s birthday and Muharram. The need for revenue earning seems to have been behind the decision. But the desirability of the decision can be questioned. The drinking habit has spread to all sections of society. Even girls have taken to drinking in a big way. Drunken driving and drunken brawls are taking a heavy toll of life. If anything, drinking deserves to be discouraged rather than encouraged – directly or indirectly.
Ban on drinking, particularly on Kali Puja and Viaya Dashami days, should not only have been continued but rigorously enforced. The police these days usually does not respond to calls from citizens when their peace is disturbed by gangs of youth drinking on pavements or houses under construction. A verbal protest by citizens usually ends in their being given a thorough bashing. In worst cases, the protesters are killed. Peace is being regularly disturbed by the devotees of Bacchus whose number is fast increasing. The negative aspects of drinking are well known but are hardly taken into consideration.
Sometime ago, the Supreme Court had ordered the States to remove all bars on the National Highways and other major arterial routes. The order is being honoured more by its violation rather than by its observance. The Supreme Court is now reported to have agreed to relax the ban in some cases if the State Governments approve. Drunken driving is another thing that has not been adequately tackled by the police. In Western countries drunken driving is strictly prohibited and anyone proving positive in a breathalyser test is not only punished bur repeat offenders lose their driving licences. Certain areas in Kolkata, like the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass frequently are highly prone to accidents caused by drunken driving. This is taking place almost on a daily basis but the police seem to be helpless.
There is general attitude among the keepers of the law is to take a lenient attitude to drinking in the open and in public places, disturbing the peace and causing great annoyance to residents. The police naturally feel hesitant when they find that the policy of the government is to encourage drinking. The problem has to be tackled at that level.

Sunday, 4 March, 2018