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Mainstream, VOL LIV No 28 New Delhi July 2, 2016

Rural Women Resent Liquor Vends

Friday 1 July 2016

COMMUNICATION

From many parts of country news is pouring in of growing resentment of villagers against the government policy of opening more and more liquor vends in rural areas. This helps the government to increase its earnings and in addition politicians are also eager to please liquor contractors and manufacturers for their own selfish reasons.

However, in the process of increasing the earnings of State governments and liquor traders and manufacturers, the health and peace of villagers is being sacrificed. When liquor is available very close to village homes its consumption goes up significantly ruining the physical as well as financial health of many families. This in turn leads to increasing neglect of children and use of violence against women. In many villages liquor vends have emerged as gathering points of anti-social elements increasing further the insecurity of women. This is the reason why women supported by other villagers are increasing their protests against liquor vends and demanding their removal from the village.

Buasni village in Baddi area of Solan district (Himachal Pradesh) is one such village where women have been protesting against the location of a liquor vend in their village for almost one year. The mahilamandal or women’s group supported by the yuvamandal or youth club have complained that the liquor vend has become the centre of all sorts of undesirable activities disturbing the peace of the village. What has pained women most is that even some teenagers in their tender years are falling into the trap of liquor addiction which can ruin their life and some liquor addicts have started selling household goods on the sly to get money for purchasing liquor.

Similar stories of many-sided ruin due to increasing liquor consumption and addiction have poured in from many villages of Punjab. The number of liquor vends in this State increased from 5632 in 2005-06 to 12,000 in 2016. During this period the target revenue of the Excise Department of Punjab went up nearly four times from Rs 1506 crores to Rs 5440 crores. This also shows what a huge business the sale of liquor has become.

Probably this is the reason why the growing resentment of women is not getting the proper response from governments. In Punjab the increase in liquor vends has taken place despite people of many villages passing resolutions against liquor vends. Thus governments are getting increasingly alienated from the welfare of their own people and instead of taking steps to reduce the consumption of liquor these governments are happy to increase their own revenue by opening more and more liquor vends even in remote villages. This policy should be resisted not only at the level of individual villages but also at the wider State level.

Bharat Dogra
C-27, Raksha Kunj,
Paschim Vihar,
New Delhi-110063