I remember writing a piece titled, "To drink or not to drink" in 2010. Few years have flown by since. But my thoughts on the issue of Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition (NLTP) have more or less stayed the same. I believe nothing much has also changed as far as the issue is concerned. If anything, the illegal trade of liquor has probably thrived. People- young, old, teenagers, elderly-age no bar, have continued to drink, and get drunk even. Some of them in the trade have also gotten richer, right in front of our eyes. Many dingy, so called booze joints have been transformed to palatial buildings over the years.
We have seen the trade grow. We have also seen family, friends and people we know, turn to alcoholics. Some of them have even died of alcohol. Sad, but true! Well, they say, the increase in number is also because of the consumption of adulterated liquor. Many school children are already drinking, too! Why? Because there is no question of underage drinking in the existence of liquor prohibition. Many teenagers are out there, drinking all they want, making another, supposedly unassuming shopkeeper’s day.
Because ironically, liquor is available everywhere although interestingly, this doesn’t seem to bother our society as a whole. I never understood why we needed such an Act in the first place. Especially when, to drink or not to drink is one of the most personal choices a person can make. And nothing, not even prohibition, is ever going to change that! Those who drink will drink anyway, with or without prohibition. Like we see it happening around us on a daily basis. Only disadvantage is that they are getting a raw deal, which is ultimately impacting the society we live in, in ways more than one.
While on the other hand, we fool ourselves into thinking that the prohibition act has done more good than harm. Who are we kidding when we flash news and photographs of liquor being seized and destroyed, and a handful of those involved are being arrested? I find these lame when the greater percentage of those in the trade are freely running their liquor businesses…you will agree with me- some in their own homes, some in small joints, some in hotels, and numerous others in paan shops.
And to think we have faith in the NLTP Act when we read of action being taken on violation of the Act! I mean nothing can be more ridiculous than that. To take the Act seriously is one thing. Actually, it might have helped if it was taken seriously. But obviously, that’s not happening. If it was, we would have seen some positive results by now even if it still means drinking is a personal choice.
Sadly and ironically, in spite of the Act, and even after years and years of its existence, the society’s familiarity with alcohol is firmly intact. And this must surely mean that either the implementation of the Act is deeply flawed or it’s never going to work in a society like ours.
Either way, as for me, I will continue to vouch for lifting it and also continue to say, think, and feel that, to drink or not to drink will always be an individual’s personal choice, and nobody or nothing can possibly change it.