Drink & the Devil to Be Banished From Tamilnadu Soon

Chennai, May 21: Alcoholism has become the bane of social life in the state of Tamil Nadu including the   capital Chennai On   any normal   evening, this familiar sight would present itself:  motley crowds trooping into liquor shops located in, the metro’s bustling commercial areas. The customers who throng these government-run Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (Tasmac) stores vary from daily-wage earners and rickshaw pullers to low-level government employees. The most preferred drink happens to be whiskey which the men guzzle down on the spot; after a while discarded cups and empty bottles begin to litter the pavements   in and around the liquor shops.  Once the drink begins to take effect , one finds a pathetic yet grim picture:  a tippler or two lolling on the roadside, a few others sit around cradling their heads in their hands, while others might be found mouthing obscenities. They will remain inebriated all night long. Come morning, and they will head home, the experiences of the night before totally forgotten.  Day in and day out this cycle continues.

Did you know that   the first Tasmac store was opened way back in 1983?  Sadly, within the space of little more three decades, the number of addicts in the state has touched nearly 10 millions. Disillusioned locals disclose that every single village in the state has one within walking distance. This has provided a boost to the drinking habit statewide.

The State Government candidly admits that the average daily drinkers in the state number seven million. Interestingly,  S Raju, state coordinator of campaign group Makkal Adhikaram (People’s Power) reveals, “The addicts include farmers, labourers, women and children. I have seen even three-year-olds drinking….. Tasmac stores are everywhere, near schools, near churches and temples and near hospitals.” Alcoholism has given rise to a spate of crimes in the state. S Raju ventures to add, “Major crimes and accidents are fuelled by alcohol, and it is also leading to cases of sexual harassment of women and robberies. Alcohol abuse is also the reason why the state has the largest number of widows less than 30 years of age.”

Over the past two years, massive protests have been held across the state in support of prohibition and the campaign has garnered huge support from women who daily grapple with drunken spouses and abject poverty.   Such women are generally peeved because their husbands spend the bulk of their daily earnings on alcohol, leaving a paltry amount to run the house with.

Prior to the assembly elections 2016 Tamil Nadu’s major political  parties DMK and the AIADMK solemnly pledged to implement prohibition if voted to power .In their poll   manifestoes, the DMK said it would halt  liquor sales in one a single swoop, while the AIADMK announced it would introduce the ban in “a phased manner.” Elaborating on her idea, the AIADMK supremo said, firstly  the working hours of the TASMAC liquor shops would be reduced.  In the next phase the number of shops would be slashed, the bars attached to them closed, and finally rehabilitation centres would be opened to wean the common people from alcohol. In a smart move to quell questions from and criticism by her political opponents, Amma waxed eloquent on the subject during a poll campaign. She said.“I have always wanted to bring about complete prohibition. But it is not possible to bring this in with a single signature. It can only be implemented in phases. More than one generation has grown up in the period since 1971, when the DMK re-introduced the sale of alcohol. Therefore, it is not possible to do this in a day. ”

Now that Amma has romped home with a clear  mandate can the state’s teeming millions expect to see light at the  end of the tunnel sometime soon? After all Amma does fulfill  her poll promises!!

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