One more fetish of Gandhism seems set to go. The Indian government could start permitting alcohol on all domestic flights. Indian airlines are allowed to serve liquor only on international flights now.
But some parliament members have made a case for lifting the ban on alcohol on domestic flights, well, not out of any special affinity for the spirits, but only out of concern for the lot of the vineyard farmers.
AdvertisementAt a meeting of the consultative committee attached to the federal aviation ministry, at least three members of the Indian parliament, are said to have made a strong pitch for alcohol on domestic flights.
Interestingly among those who attended the meeting at New Delhi was none other Rahul Gandhi, a scion of the Nehru-Gandhi family. But he is said to have kept quiet, not taking any position on the issue. Certainly he did not oppose the idea that was mooted by his Congress party colleagues.
Aviation Minister Praful Patel who chaired the deliberations readily agreed to consider the demand as there was no opposition at the meeting.
Vijay Mallya, a prominent liquor baron and also a member of the upper chamber of the parliament has been lobbying hard for alcohol on domestic flights.
A flashy businessman, he is one of the big names in the liquor industry and is also running a small airline called Kingfisher, named after a blockbuster beer brand.
But he did not attend the Wednesday meeting. He didn't have to, his fellow members did the talking anyway.
M.S.Gill, a former chief of the country's Election Commission and now a Congress member of the Rajya Sabha, the upper house, later told the Times of India,: "Members from Maharashtra raised the issue saying the government should consider allowing Indian wine on domestic flights in the interest of horticulture farmers. Wine-making is a great Indian industry and should be promoted. Agreeing with the argument, I also supported the demand."
An independent MP helpfully pointed out such a practice was followed globally but stressed his concerns by suggesting that small portions only be served and that too only Indian brands!
It remains to be seen how the self-proclaimed Gandhians react and what impact it has on the Indian government.
Mahatma Gandhi, hailed as the father of the nation, had assiduously campaigned alcohol right through his life.
While Indian politicians are not too keen about other aspects of Gandhism, abstinence in public from alcohol has been a sacred cow. That is now breaking down now under the impact of globalization.
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