Alcohol is a highly addictive psychoactive substance,if misused may annihilate its users and ultimately bring major problems to the society.Even in human history,alcohol has ruined and killed many.This fact is ever so frightening.However,the question as to whether prohibition has brought any positive change in the State remains controversial.
The NLTP Act was passed in 1989 by the Nagaland Legislative Assembly to prohibit Sale and consumption of Liquor in the State.Ever since the Act was passed,Nagaland is considered dry.The long 29 years have gone and prohibition has only become a mockery.In the midst of prohibition,Liquor is easily available in every nook and corner of Nagaland.Liquor can be found in grocery shops,restaurants and hotels.There are many shops in Kohima decorated with mineral water and other cold drinks and selling alcohol.For a place like Kohima,Liquor is found even in Paan shops.Alcohol is also served openly at the residence of some officers and VIPs.The same is served openly in festivals and functions and people are blatantly encouraged to drink.It’s actually a shame to even talk of prohibition when alcohol is flowing like water in the Sate.This is a direct insult to our very own selves.Now,Legal drinkers have become illegal drinkers and legal sellers turned into boottlegers.However,the concerned authorities have remained mute spectators.Instead,they themselves are hand in hand involved with the business.Who will control who?We’ve been pretending to be a dry State for so long on the pretext of Nagaland being a Christian State.And therefore,this is hypocritical.Let us not trade our dignity.God forbid.
We talk of prohibition to prevent alcoholism but upsettingly,prohibition can never prevent alcoholism.The fact is,an alcoholic will even bypass prohibition to get his alcohol.And so long as there are drinkers,there will be sellers.Hence,Prohibition instead of preventing people from drinking and selling alcohol,it has only made things worst.It has made black markets to thrive by making sellers to charge exorbitant rates on alcohol.And in return we only get low quality liquor (adulterated liquors)which causes serious health hazards leading to early demise of people.Age limits cannot be maintained for use of liquor because of prohibition and even minors are often seeing drinking.This is overwhelmingly ironical.
On historical perspective,there are evidences and prohibition laws everywhere in the world have failed.For instance,prohibition in USA has given rise to American Mafia.It created illegal markets for gangsters and alcoholics to monopolize.We can also look at the other Indian states like Gujarat,Kerala,Manipur,etc where prohibition was not successful.Nagaland is not different from the rest.As such,prohibition is not a remedy.We need to be realistic.
Correct me if i’m wrong but I think it is true when we say a land of prohibition becomes an ocean of corruption.The competent authorities are hand in hand involved with the business.Policemen are in nexus with the bootlegers and they are made to corrupt by taking bribes.Vehicles of VIPs and Police are used to ferry loads of Liquor so that it could pass through all police checkgates.The underground groups taking advantage of Prohibition demand high amount of money from the bootlegers as Tax.On the one hand,the price of Liquor will rise and the users will be the ultimate victims.
On economical line,Nagaland is losing crores of rupees annually due to prohibition.The State’s coffer is going dry.Think about how much development those money can bring in the State.Has prohibition become a threat to our economy? The answer is best known to all of us.Personally,i see no reason why Liquor should be banned because we all know that a person who drinks will continue to drink legally or illegally.It’s a question of individual choice and nobody can prevent a person from drinking unless the person himself/herself decides so to give up drinking.Therefore,the whole idea of preventing alcholism through prohibition is meaningless.
On another perspective,Prohibition may be partially possible if all the concerned authorities and law making bodies agree to come together and adopt a resolution not to consume alcohol and thereby discourage others from doing so like the State of Bihar.However,that may not be literally possible in Nagaland.
Therefore,as per my humble Layman’s perspective,Liquor should be legalized in Nagaland in order to prevent spurious liquor from harming us and subsequently prevent corruption which is so often done on excuse of Prohibition.And most importantly,to prevent the State’s revenue from getting dried and pave the way for development.Let us reflect once again on this sensitive issue and rectify the needful.Let good sense prevail in our Land.
St. Joseph’s College,Jakhama
* Disclaimer. The opinions, beliefs and viewpoints expressed by the various authors and participants on this page do not necessarily reflect the opinions, beliefs and viewpoints of the Nagaland Page.