Black & white paper on 'Yu'

Free Thinker *

Food Stall at World Tourism Day at Phayeng   :: 27th September 2017
Food Stall at World Tourism Day at Phayeng in September 2017 :: Pix - Shankar Khangembam

'Yu' manufactured in Manipur but only for export and certainly not for sell in the State, is a brave idea. Commercialization of 'Yu' is not at all a bad proposition. We may experiment with this innovative idea amidst prohibition.

I strongly believe that its contemplated good results will outdo the conjectural ill effects. The apprehension of pilferages and linkages on the way is rather redundant considering the abundance of local brew in the localities all over the State.

Again the fear of anticipated shortage of Manipuri rice (to eat) is unfounded because these days non-local cheap rice is rampantly used in the 'Yu' production as native rice is too expensive; so this kind of fear has no forceful bearing.

On the same issue when I interacted with our lone BJP Member of Parliament informing him that "people are panicky of a possible famine (chak tangba) as a consequence of legalization & commercialization of 'Yu' ". He simply said, "We may produce more rice if the policy is successful and beneficial to the people and the State". I like the spirit.

Let me confess that I am not a manufacturer, seller, exporter, carrier or consumer of 'Yu'. But I am a concerned citizen who is very much worried about the well being of our 3 million people who are very innocent and highly gullible; and they hardly have global knowledge of the world of alcohol.

Let us not keep them in dark. Today the world is so open and so lenient. Let us look at the advanced liberal democracies of the world and try to emulate them.

In the USA guns, drinks, even marijuana (in some states) are sold in open market; anybody can buy and use them legitimately. One may say that we are no Americans. Then let us compare with the French.

Again you may say that their habit, pride and cultural level are much higher. Okay, and then let us compare with Goa; you may say that their moral and cultural standing is different from us. But they are also like us, liberated from the Portuguese and merged with India; but they are doing well in commercially brewing local brew (Feni); why can't we follow suit?

My simple question to the citizens is that whether we want the Bihar model or Goa model in terms of alcohol policy. The choice is ours. Let the elected members decide. They are our representatives.

If we don't like their policies and laws, let us not elect them in the next election and revert their policies. However there is a system in place. We have to work within the system. We can't make laws on the streets and finalize policies with a crazy mob or in a TV news room.

Believe it or not intoxicating /alcoholic drinks are as old human civilization & it goes well with the world's oldest surviving profession. These two things are inherently present in every society just as the concept of god and ghost. No society is still unable to do away with these two. Then what is the solution? We need to strike a balance between economics (living) and social ethics.

Normally local rice is used in the production of 'Yu'; these days affordable rice from outside is mainly used for the production. But we are still following the same fermentation and distillation process using exotic herbs/bamboo/hamei (obnoxiously with urea) etc.

If we need more rice for commercial production of 'Yu' we may import from other states or even from Burma. For the production of wine, France is importing grapes from the neighboring countries. For 'Vodka' production Russia is importing potato from elsewhere including China. For 'Feni' Goa is importing cashu from Kerala.

It is an undeniable historical fact that all ethnic groups in Manipur, have been drinking the local brew since time immemorial.

Traditionally the Naga tribes of Manipur, Kuki-Chin members , the Meiteis/Meeteis (not sure about Pangals) used to drink irrespective of sex, I mean gender. Today the number of has come down to 53% and 6% for men and women respectively. Thanks to our prohibition policy since 1991-92.

Today perhaps we have forgotten how to drink? Then why should we break the bottle or blame the brand. Instead of banning, It is high time to relearn how to drink and how must to drink? In the so called civilized cultures 99% of the people (men and women) drink but majority of them drinks responsibly. Drinking in moderation is good for health.

We have an amazing expertise in producing rice-based-brews (wine/beer). I hope the secrecy is still maintained pertaining to the process and ingredients of production.

Once we start producing 'Yu' in a large scale for commercial export we must go for a global patent. The State government may take the initiative for patenting the product.

I believe the manufacturing process of 'Yu' in Sekmai, Andro, Phayen etc, are almost identical. 'Yu' as an alcoholic product of the State may be patented. Otherwise the story of Bhut Jolokia vs King-chilli will repeat here too (without our U-morok).

When we are having a huge problem of poverty, unemployment and resource crunch can we afford to stall an economic measure which sounds quite plausible and lucrative despite possibility of incurring some social & health issues?

"Yu" will ignite our economy and spirit and of course our identity too. If I am wrong you can hang me at the nearest lamppost, slightly higher, because I am allergic to dog urine.

* Free Thinker wrote this article for The Sangai Express
This article was webcasted on July 24, 2018.

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