NDA government, urged on by the RSS, wants to throttle alcohol sales in India; will recruit women and taxes to do the job.
After a partial success on banning the cow slaughter in various states of India, the BJP-lead NDA government has now eyed to reduce the consumption of alcohol all over India. Its approach involves throttling sales by raising taxes to prohibitive levels, and appealing to the sensibilities of the country’s women, a constituency which, government-commissioned research has revealed, is particularly receptive to the idea of curtailed access to liquor.
Multiple Parties Supporting:
There are multiple stakeholders in the government’s “Reduce Alcoholism” drive. First, there is the Ministry of Health Affairs that has stated it is imperative health problems arising from alcoholism be tackled. It proposes “taxation by alcohol content as an efficient intervention”. The ministry has warned the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) that for every rupee the government earns from a bottle of liquor, it loses more than Rs 4 in healthcare expenses and squandered productivity.
The ministry of social justice, for its part has advised the PMO that “social problems such as domestic violence, suicide, are a primary concern and are increasing“.
Here’s what RSS functionary had to say
A vociferous critic of the government’s alcohol policy and one of the most strident voices calling for temperance is the RSS. The Sangh’s opposition to alcohol is of Gandhian provenance and its proposed plan of action rooted in health economics – it proposes that taxation be deployed as a control measure. According to an RSS functionary, a note to this effect was dispatched to the government late last year – he did not specify to whom.
“Our push is not for total prohibition. It [the note] is only saying it wants the government to make liquor – both Indian-made foreign liquor and country liquor frightfully expensive, out of reach of the common man,” he said. “It is a slow process, and we are confident that the government would be able to push it through in the interests of the nation.”
The RSS, realizing that women – or “homemakers”, as it calls them – provide unequivocal support to opposing the menace, has proposed that the centre recruit them vigorously. “Women’s voice is of utmost importance,” said the Sangh functionary. This section of the electorate – 49 per cent of India’s 841 million registered voters, by the RSS’s reckoning – “have often vented their ire on issues of rising cases of alcoholism and drunken deaths on the highway”.
“India needs a sustained campaign, nothing else will work,” said Dipankar Gupta, a social analyst. “Several states, urged by women’s groups, have tried to impose prohibition on their men, but the move failed.”
The government will have support from all quarters, including opposition political parties, when it eventually pushes the agenda,” he said. “Indian politicians will never openly argue for alcohol.”