Art n Life

Liquor at your doorstep. So ?

Prof Harban Singh | May 07, 2020 02:01 PM

The State governments have been chafing for quite some time over the extended lockdown affecting the excise revenue. The losses have been colossal and the alternatives non-existent. Along with the tax on petrol and diesel, the registrations and the excise are the only sources of revenue left to the States after they agreed on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) so the States were understandably getting restive. Now finally Punjab has come up with the idea of home delivery of alcohol.

But surprisingly many tipplers are not about to raise a toast to it. The problem, it seems is that when it comes to alcohol the Indian society is not only prude but also hypocritical. In many homes old parents live with their children, who being of the age of pubs, clubs and also the ‘government ka manzoor-shuda ahata’, are not averse to unwinding themselves with a drink or two, or perhaps even more. The more conservative of the parents either pretend to have retired to their room or act innocent at the more than ‘normal’ and bubbly son when he arrives home. This game is deftly played out by both the parties on a regular basis with the façade of their son being a non ‘drinker’ remaining firmly intact or at least a moral claim can be made that the son never drinks at home in the presence of his parents.

The Punjab Government’s home delivery scheme has created a moral dilemma for such families. Just imagine the door bell ringing and the delivery boy announcing that a parcel of ‘bottles’ has arrived! The carefully crafted image of a ‘sanskari’ son just gets tossed out. The septuagenarian mother who never misses a ‘satsang’ or ‘kirtan’ in the neighborhood too would fall in the estimation of her peers who, perhaps pray to God on such occasions to bless their son with ‘sad-buddhi’ and give up his love of Bacchus.

Make no mistake that it is not for the concern for the thirsty and parched throats that some of the governments have decided to open the liquor shops but the concern for the revenues. But this has resulted in long queues where people have demonstrated remarkable patience. At some places people have not been so civil, displaying impatience. This is where home delivery scheme comes in picture but not before raising the question of desirability of closing vends in the first place. Without stock since March 24, people are stocking liquor though during a normal day there are hardly more than four or five persons waiting to pick their brand. This would also have spared the ‘good sons’ embarrassment of holding a parcel of liquor bottles in the presence of their ‘sanskari’ families.

( The writer is an accomplished academic based at Chandigarh)

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