When violence erupted recently in a Mangalore pub
there were discussions galore on the topic. It seemed that the whole nation was opinionated regarding the issue. The politicians and the 'guardians' of public morality were hoping to fumigate the country of the morally -deranged. They were relentlessly harping on the morality of those who practiced the pub culture.
Lets get this straight. Are these goons talking of the inappropriateness of practicing western culture
on Indian soil or are they miffed about the ease with which the guys and the gals are socializing in public venues, such as pub?
The educated, urban folks, who are literally working their rear off, are caught in the groove. On one hand there is a lot of money, of the kind not seen before; and on the other hand they have country- grown cretins telling them how they should be spending their money.
The pubs have been around in Bangalore for more than a decade and have been patronized by men and women alike. The Shri Ram Sene
who are the self -anointed custodians of Indian culture and morality, were conspicuous in their absence when these pubs were doing roaring business in the 'pub city' of Bangalore.
Pubs all over India have always enjoyed very good patronage mostly from men and the Indian culture seems to have suffered no slight during such time. But now some men have trouble with women visiting pubs and, perhaps, having a nice time which is why all hell broke loose in Mangalore. At this point of time it is only appropriate to point out that Indian tradition has never discouraged women from drinking -
- We all are aware that women who belong to the elite and upper middle class stratum have always enjoyed their drink for as far as one can remember ; so do women from the lower classes. Does that mean that the moral policing applies only to middle class women?
- If the sight of women drinking gives sore eyes to some, is it ok for women to sell their bodies? No one remembers the 'seedy' Sene attacking child traffickers or coming to the rescue of prostitutes.
- A lot of women do not think that men drinking, making public nuisance of themselves and squandering family fortunes is part of the Great Indian Tradition. Do the Sri Ram sena plan to attack male alcoholics as part of their future agenda?
- If visiting a pub is western culture so is wearing trousers. How many of these 'Seneiites' would like to spend the rest of their life wearing dhotis?
Now let us take a look at the other side of the coin. Let us look at a country where pub culture is the corner stone of its society and culture. Every nook and corner of the United Kingdom has pubs; it is a site for socializing, gatherings and business luncheons. But the down side is that the United Kingdom has evolved into a drinking society where the merriment of every festivity is graded on the tipsy scale. Brits are now being discouraged from binging on drinks, a fallout of the pub culture. The rate of alcoholic liver disease especially in places like Scotland is very high. It takes away many productive years from a person's life.
Break the urge to binge
So the focus must be on enlightening the young on the hazards of excessive drinking. People drink to relax and have a good time. But very often the pubs and bars are scenes of 'going overboard' and not many people retain their senses to realize they are having a good time.
Young women and men who are under the influence of alcohol are sometimes exploited
. Many of them lose their inhibitions, and sex, mostly the unsafe version, becomes high on their agenda. Under the influence of alcohol they practice risky sex behavior
that they would otherwise cringe from indulging in. Strangely women who consume excessive alcohol enjoy more sex (is this what the goons are worried about?) while for men it can affect their libido.
Besides, excessive alcohol consumption is a known health deterrent
. Its intoxication is often addictive. Getting addicted to alcohol can lead to several health hazards like cirrhosis and other forms of liver diseases. Apparently, women are more affected by binge drinking; they tend to develop alcohol- related liver diseases at a faster rate compared to their male counterparts. In the long run they may develop anemia, hypertension, pancreatitis and other alcohol-related disorders. Pregnant women
should keep away from alcohol, as it tends to affect their babies too.
Where lies the way?
We can discuss this topic till we go red in the face but the fact remains that we cannot sideline the core issue - that of some people deciding for others how they should go about leading their lives. In other words while we demand that the world respects us for being the largest democracy in the world we are making global fools of ourselves by allowing the 'talibanization' of India while the law of the land stands mute. Soon some people may not want women to go to work, or be seen in public places. Is the law powerful enough to stop them?
The trick is to create awareness among the young and the not- so- young by discussing these issues and spreading light through public forums. Despite these measures if people decide to drown their existence then it is best left to them.
Every individual has the right to live life the way he wants as long as he is not stepping on another's toe. For every ten who attack the pub culture there will arise ten more who will attack the attackers. Dissent and frustration is brewing country -wide, as was evident during the mumbai terror attack. Do we want our country to be strife-ridden and war- torn? It is time for the legal system and the governance to take over and act before it is too late.
ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
Dr Reeja Tharu/S