Guess who welcomed the Government’s decision to partially relax COVID lockdown! No one else but alcohol lovers! The way they took to roads and queued up at the wine shops was a scene to be seen to be believed. Suddenly, everyone seemed to be on the road, as if released from days of detention and rushing to the nearest wine shop as it was the most essential thing required for sustenance! As some one remarked sarcastically, “ India was not hungry; it was actually thirsty.”
Unfortunately, in India, there’s a stigma around alcohol. May be it’s something to do with the climate, because it’s definitely not our culture or heritage for our Gods have been depicted as relishing wine so very fondly called “Madira”. Or may be, we the Indians don’t not know how to behave after downing a couple of drinks. And the fact is that some of us do become little unpleasant and nasty after a few drinks. I have seen guests going wild in Punjabi weddings and people over indulging in binge when liquor is on the house.
All said and done, the above does not merit treatment of alcohol as an anathema. Because of exorbitant duty by Government, many people are unable to afford expensive IMFL and they frequently take to spurious liquor, hooch or inexpensive desi, all grave health risk to consumer. On top of it be it festival, elections or any other event, governments tend to stop sale of liquor by declaring dry days. There are governments that have totally banned sale of liquor in their states leading to sale of illegal liquor by bootleggers. I think all the above are populist measures; relaxing some of the draconian measures around sale and consumption of liquor can definitely remove that veil of mystery and taboo around it.
Like several other learning that we are trying to imbibe from the current Corona pandemic, the way people have reacted to relaxation in lockdown by thronging liquor shops should be dwelt upon in depth. In stead of ostracising drinking and drinkers, all this can be made much more graceful and easier and we may see people drinking and behaving more responsibly.
COVID has taught us so many lessons,
Social distancing, lockdown and isolation;
Let’s ease the sale and consumption of liquor in our country
For when lockdown was relaxed, liquor seemed to be a big consolation