TODAY -

Dry but ranks third in the country : Toothless prohibition
- The Sangai Express Editorial :: December 18 2020 -



Dry State. This is on paper and one need not go into the findings of the National Family Health Survey of 2019-20 to confirm that drinking is rife in Manipur.

The most that the survey may help is in coming to the conclusion that 'Dry Manipur' ranks third in the country in al¬cohol consumption.

This is a fact that has to be acknowledged/ the natural question is, 'has prohibition helped?'

Not at all will be the answer, as it has been in some States where prohibition is in force, such as Bihar.

Globally too prohibition has been a failure and only opened the door for organised crimes to take firm roots as in the ’United States during the prohibition period from 1920 to 1933.

It is not without reason why many believe that it was prohibition which gave birth to gangsters like Al Capone, Lucky Luciano and others during the prohibition period in the United States.

Even Gujarat, the birth place of Mahatma Gandhi has made some exceptions because total prohibition is just not possible, with middle class Gujaratis given 'permits' which allow them to drink for 'health reasons'.

This was the case at least two years back.

This is the reality in other parts of the world and the country and to come back to Manipur, ail would agree that prohibition has failed just like in other parts of the world and this should not come as a surprise.

On the other hand there was a reason why prohibition had to be imposed in Manipur for the reality of 1991 and earlier demanded some sort of a regulation in sale and consumption of alcohol.

In many ways the present day Meira Paibi movement may be said to have its genesis in the Nisa Bandh movement, a movement launched by womenfolk in every Leikai, who kept a strict lookout for drunks loitering on the road and making life hell for the family, especially the wives.

Those were the days when it was not uncommon to see drunks loitering around, especially in BOC area with elders typically advising the youngsters not to go to BOC area after dark.

Prior to the State Government officially passing the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act of 1991, the people saw the armed outfits launching their own anti-alcohol drives.

Back then, it was common to see many 'Sengdokchabas' from the people, after they were hauled up by cadres of the armed outfits and made to publicly tender an apology with the promise that they would not drink again in the local newspapers.

A number of civil society organisations took off from the Nisa Bandh movement and started cracking down on drinking and drug consumption, with the All Manipur Anti-Drug Association (AMADA) and Coalition Against Drugs and Alcohol (CADA) leading the way.

In another word, prohibition is enforced not only by the State Government but also by a number of powerful and influential civil society organisations.

In the hills too, powerful civil society organisations have come down hard against alcohol consumption.

However despite the stringent drive against alcohol consumption, Manipur ranks third in the country on alcohol consumption to demonstrate that prohibition has been a failure.

On the other hand, despite the prohibition, illicitly brewed country liquor can be found in almost all the leiraks and leikais of Imphal.

Prohibition has also ensured that illicitly brewed Indian Made Foreign Liquor, popularly known as 'Khatkatti products' are also being sold in the black market, obviously posing more health risks to the consumers.

It also stands that despite the prohibition, the finest single malt whisky can be had at the residence of the well heeled folks who stride the corridors of power.



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