Prohibition means the forbidding by law the manufacture or sale of alcoholic drinks. Our national leaders disapproved of the growing habit of drinking and Gandhiji made prohibition part of the constructive programme of the Congress. He considered drinking the root cause of all evils in society. He said, “If I ever have an opportunity to rule India, in my first half hour, I will close up all the toddy shops without compensation. I hold drinking to be more damnable than thieving .and perhaps even prostitution.” Nehru remonstrated against the practice of offering drinks in the parties given by our embassies. He said, “I do not believe in this kind of diplomacy which depends on drinking. And if we have to indulge in that kind of diplomacy; others have had more training in it and are likely to win.”
Drinking is harmful to the body. The nervous and digestive systems are damaged. Through its pain-reducing effect, alcohol can suppress the warning pain of angina pectoris or heart attack in susceptible people. This may prove fatal for them. It reduces man’s virility. It affects one’s judgment and co-ordination. Henry Ford was right when he said, “Alcohol and gasoline will not mix.” The accident hazard of a driver with a blood alcohol level of 0.15 per cent is 33 times greater than that of the non-drinking driver. A Japanese proverb says, “First the man takes a drink, then the drink takes a drink, then the drink takes the man.” Bacchus has drowned more men than Neptune.
Drinking is a social evil. It was in .a tavern brawl that Marlowe, the famous English dramatist was killed (1593). Alexander the Great killed his friend in a fit of intoxication. A study conducted in the USA reveals that alcohol was involved in 64 per cent of homicides, 70 per cent physical assault crimes and 50 per cent of shooting and other assaults. Drinking has impoverished many families in India. Very often the drunkard uses abusive language.
Chaucer, the great English poet, says, character and shame depart when wine comes in. By drinking liquor that contains poison a number of people die in our country every year. In China, if a person dies due to a poisonous drink, the person who sells it is given capital punishment.
For the welfare of the people it is absolutely necessary to introduce total prohibition in the country. It-was the great desire of Gandhiji. Now Gujarat is the only state where there is prohibition. Most of the state governments are of the view that if prohibition is introduced it will reduce their revenue. It is true, but the people should not be allowed to ruin themselves simply for the sake of revenue. The well-being of the people is much more important than revenue. To make good the loss of revenue, the state governments should find some other sources. Those who are engaged in this business should be given employment in some other departments. If that is not possible, they should be given the golden handshake.
We cannot make people sober by an Act of Parliament. Our people have to be convinced of the evils of drinking. In the United States, the National Institute makes use of the mass media to make the public aware of the harm that occurs as a result of drinking. Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), an organization of ex-alcoholics started in the United States in 1935, has been doing a great service to chronic alcoholics. In Kerala, the District Prohibition Councils persuade men to give up drinking. They have succeeded in making a few villages dry.