Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Lift NLTPA 1989 for mockery on us

Mobile and internet with all its utility and usefulness is also doing a lot of harm especially to our children but we can’t prohibit its usage or sale. The only reasonable and matured way to the problem is advising the children to use the technology responsibly with a sense of self-esteem. Drug is the other word for life saving medicine but unfortunately we have abusers of them called, drug edicts. Will it be wise to prohibit the manufacture and sale of drugs because some miscreants abuse it? Coming to the issue of liquor prohibition, I must say that the idea of our society without alcohol is good but the problem is just because the idea is good does not mean it is practical.
The reason behind the impracticality of the idea of a dry State is firstly due to the fact that intake of liquor or wine is a personal choice or habit and secondly Nagaland is not a territory in the sky but surrounded by fellow neighboring States who produce liquor. It may be noted here that prohibition in the other three States of Bihar, Gujarat and Mizoram are all failures with varying Celsius. The only success story from these three states is growth of Liquor Mafias with loss of lives from spurious liquor especially Bihar.
Nagas, like any culture in the world, had the culture of using intoxicants but unfortunately, recent generation turned it into an abusive substance giving rise to various alcohol related problems in the society. However, this does not imply that since few individuals abuse liquor we decide to prohibit. It is nobody’s prerogative or right, in the first place, to prevent or prohibit individuals as to what to eat or drink, except offer an advice. No doubt, Nagaland, as a State, has the power to ban the manufacture and sale of liquor within its territory but Nagaland Government doesn’t have the authority to ban individual’s drinking or eating habit nor does it have the authority to stop a neighboring State from producing liquor or selling it.
Coupled with this, individuals have the liberty to buy their alcohol from anywhere they want. An autonomous church, with all its authority may ban or prohibit usage of liquor by its congregation and soon that church will be left with only the pastor and a handful of self righteous members.Nagaland Liquor Prohibition is irrational because it is untenable. Hence, the right and matured approach that the Government, as a law keeper and the churches, as moral keepers can do is to come up with stringent rules and regulations on the issue like the quality of the product, usage of alcohol and behavioral code for drinkers and also a slew of punitive actions against those individuals who drink and create nuisance and ruckus in their drunkenness resulting in social discord and family peace.
This is the only matured and practical way to deal with an issue such as Alcohol and not otherwise. The society, especially the churches, must realize that the only logical approach to the issue of alcohol, as we witness in its existence all these years of prohibition, is not prohibition but helping alcoholics change their bad habits by organizing various programmes and seminars for healthy and responsible living.
The other social truth is that any consumable commodity whether indigenous or imported when prohibited automatically goes underground making it more lucrative than any other commodity in the open market. The saying, “stolen sweets are sweeter” affirms the truth.
The prohibition Act that is in effect in the State is not a wise act because it resulted from an emotional approach rather than relying on reason as to how far it is practical and when in effect what will be its consequences? The result of our immature approach to the issue is that the moment liquor was prohibited it not only went underground but created thousands of ‘businessmen and businesswomen’-bootleggers; in other words thousands more anti-socials in the eye of law and thousands more sinners in the eye of NBCC and the churches. In addition, as expected, Nagaland is now flooded with more liquor and more outlets than ever before when sale of liquor was legal and available in few licensed liquor shops. Outrageously, the overall achievement of Prohibition Act in the State is that it succeeded in making us all hypocrites in the eyes of our visitors.
Let us stop being Pharisees in the eye of others and among ourselves. Put an end to this unrealistic prohibition Act and put on the armor of maturity, discipline and self respect. The notions of prohibition and inhibitions on issues such as drugs, alcohol etc often come from shallow, ill educated minds and hence the need to continuously educate our minds to be reasonable in our effort to deal with societal challenges.
The paramount confronts of the hour is to concentrate our ability and spiritual strength on pressing needs of the society like helping our Government in the judicious use of developmental funds, fighting against corruption and dishonesty and reforming our moral houses. Today, every reasonable citizen, drinkers and non-drinkers alike in Nagaland, are in favor of immediately doing away with this prohibition Act because it is doing more harm, a blatant mockery of our image, than good. And the question before us is, aren’t we matured and intelligent enough to wrestle with the problem of alcohol in the open social arena or are we cowards hiding foolishly and self righteously behind a hypocritical law such as Nagaland Liquor total Prohibition Act 1989?
Jonas Yanthan
yanthanjonas@gmail.com

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