Spurious research

Article 47 of the Constitution of India enjoins on the State “to bring about prohibition of intoxicating drinks and drugs which are injurious to health.” Despite this, no government, whether at the Centre or in the States, has taken any steps to bring about total prohibition. Rather, most of the Congress-led governments which took office in the Provinces in 1937 through elections held under the Government of India Act of 1935, encouraged drinking because it increased revenue. After Independence, the taboo associated with drinking gradually disappeared. Rather, drinking became fashionable not only in high society but even in the middle class society. Things changed more radically after the era of liberalization dawned in the early nineties. A more affluent middle class and even lower middle class people took to drinking.
Now the number of devotees of Bacchus is increasing by leaps and bounds. Though some BJP-ruled States have formally banned liquor, the ban exists mostly on paper. Liquor is available at a higher price. The net result is a steep rise in different types of crime associated with drunkenness. Many public spaces like parks or streets in towns and cities turn into veritable drinking dens after sundown where people of different social strata and different professions or without any profession assemble and drink openly, with the police looking the other way. Any protest is bound to invite reprisal on the protester(s) that may cause anything from minor to serious physical injuries to even death. The ill-effects of drinking are too well known to be recounted but these have never stood in the way of Bachhus winning new disciples.
In these circumstances, comes an apocryphal ‘finding’ of a group of unknown ‘researchers` which claims that learning foreign tongues is made easier by gulping liquor! A report from London makes the astounding claim, without providing supporting evidence or data, that alcohol increases self-confidence (Dutch courage in colloquial English) and reduces anxiety. This in turn ‘might be expected’ to improve language learning ability. One may straightaway reject such ‘findings’ as reductio ad absurdum but one will be immediately confronted by many bilingual speakers who “believe” (without any proof) that alcohol can improve the ability to speak a second language. Any drinker can now claim that he is learning or trying to learn a new language or languages and he should be allowed to drink on that ground. That alcohol diminishes the cognitive and critical faculties of the mind is a medically proven fact. Spurious researches conducted by unknown researchers associated with unidentified research institutions should be challenged and their bluff should be called.

Sunday, 22 October, 2017