Govt Should Do Better Than Ban Alcohol

For a government, which cannot control the sale and use of ganja (marijuana) in a small area of Pashupatinath temple premises for one day during Mahashivaratri, controlling alcohol nationwide in the land of drinkers is nothing but a pipe dream

March 10, 2017, 5:45 p.m. Published in Magazine Issue: Vol.10,No. 14. March 10,2017, (Falgun 27, 2073)

The government may have been in its profound wisdom, but it seemed like crossing all levels of sanity and cultural clarity. Alcohol, if I need to remind our leaders, is an integral part of our tradition. We, the Tamangs, Sherpas, Rais, Limbus, Magars, Gurungs and Newars, almost all the so-called ‘janajatis’, use raksi, jaad and chyang in almost all of our celebrations and rituals from birth to death. It is an integral part of our heritage and social custom. Now, who are these pen-pushers to tell us what we should eat or drink? This is a part of a tradition, going back thousands of years, and now it seems that the government and its incompetent bureaucracy have suddenly realized that alcohol drinking harms the liver.

Let it be clearly understood that culture, tradition and convention cannot be interfered with by politics, its masters or the bureaucracy. Convention and tradition are what make social rules and regulations. The entire British constitution is based on convention and it is the only unwritten constitution in the world. Do not obscure the convention for a political mileage. If there are some things that need to be banned and interfered with, changed for the better, as they argue, and if they are really willing to get their hands burned, then here are some better things to do.

Besides alcohol, there are more pressing issues, they should worry about, that harm the human health. The pollution that people living in Kathmandu breathe in everyday of their lives hastens chronic respiratory disease, lung cancer, heart disease, and even damage to the brain, nerve, liver, or kidney. Continual exposure to air pollution affects the lungs of growing children and may aggravate or complicate medical conditions in the elderly. Repair the roads immediately then. Can they do it or are they just ignoring the threat?

Ban slaughter of mute animals in the name of rituals and sacrifice. Can they do it? They cannot and will not because these very pen-pushers buy the goats to take part in animal sacrifice. Goat meat raises the blood pressure. Ban goat meat too from parties and homes then?

Eating too much sugar or sweets will bring about Type 2 diabetes. Diabetes affects the kidney and heart. Now, what will the government do in its profound wisdom? Ban sweets and close down sweets and meat shops or even perhaps regulate sweets and cakes intake during children’s birthdays?

There are regulations on practically everything like public smoking, ghutkha chewing etc. But who is listening and implementing these rules? Cigarette and alcohol are still being sold to underage children and children in school and college uniforms. A stupid rule like this needs to be condemned and taken to task. But I am not taking this too seriously because, nothing is going to come off it. What can a ridiculous rule made by an equally ridiculous government.do? For a government, which cannot control the sale and use of ganja (marijuana) in a small area of Pashupatinath temple premises for one day during Mahashivaratri, controlling alcohol nationwide in the land of drinkers is nothing but a pipe dream.

I am a free man in a democratic country and so are we all free people. This very democracy that was brought about by the extreme sacrifice of thousands of men, women and children is becoming endangered by laws and rules that are being drafted by a few myopic men and women.

Let them all remember that we do not need directives from the government on how we should celebrate our festivals and what and how much we should eat or drink. We are responsible enough to know our limits, and we are not children in a kindergarten to be told what to do and what is good or bad for us. Sometimes, I wonder if we are all living in North Korea under Kim Jong Un.

(Lama, Principal of New Millennium College, can be reached by email at sangpolama@gmail.com)

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