Prohibition, green madness etc

“All laws which can be broken without any injury to another, are counted but a laughing-stock, and are so far from bridling the desires and lusts of men, that on the contrary they stimulate them,” Spinoza says. But he too must have realized that such laws have the opposite effect, they help injure—kill—people. Like the prohibition laws in Gujarat.

Modi is not the first one to have enforced prohibition, all in the name of Gandhi, and failed. He won’t be the last. That’s what Dharker says. And what “Gandhian values,” he asks

As it happens, soon after Independence, out of a twisted sense of obligation to the Mahatma, several Indian states (Maharashtra and the then Madras state among others) did try to enforce prohibition. They tried once, they tried twice, they tried yet again. But each attempt ended in dismal failure, just as such attempts have failed all over the world including Britain and the US. They failed because drinking is a private activity and, more importantly, most people do not believe that drinking in moderation is either morally reprehensible or physically debilitating. In fact, the effects of prohibition have generally been damaging, driving the activity underground and resulting in the deaths of many people.

There is, therefore, no rational or moral reason for Gujarat to continue with its prohibition policy. The real reason is elsewhere. In the 50 years or so that the policy has been in force, a parallel underground liquor distribution network has grown and flourished in the state. Its beneficiaries are politicians, bureaucrats and the police. In fact, in Gujarat, they will tell you about the close proximity of several political leaders with the big bootleggers and the massive pay-backs involved. If the Gujarat government itself estimates the excise loss from liquor at Rs 3,000 crore per year, you can guess the size of the illegal trade. The cheaper liquors called potli (pouch) made of fermented jaggery or desi (country) made from fermented fruit are locally produced, but Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) is smuggled in with impunity from the North (Rajasthan), the East (Madhya Pradesh), the South (Maharashtra) and Daman and Diu. The only reason there is no smuggling from the West is that there’s only the Arabian Sea there.

What are the Gandhian moral values being upheld here?

In the Mallya vs. Gujarat Government verbal duel, the minister who often appears on television, Vyas, says this

“This is an internal matter of the Gujarat government and Mr Mallya should avoid making suggestions on what should be done in Gujarat,” Vyas told reporters in Gandhinagar.

Citing incidents of similar tragedies of recent months in several states that do not impose Prohibition, specifically Kerala, Karnataka, Delhi and Maharashtra, insisted Prohibition had existed in Mahatma Gandhi’s land since the state’s birth in 1960 and will remain.

“Unilateral assessment that Prohibition policy was responsible for the tragedy from the largest producer of liquor who has vested interest in the business is unfortunate and coming at the wrong time,”

He’s right as well. One cannot forget taxes, and regulation. They should be blamed too. And India’s “justice” system where cases drag on for hundreds of years. Apply the civil law of tort, not the criminal law, Sauvik says

News has it that the purveyor of the poisonous hooch has been charged with homicide. Yet, the first law that should apply is Tort: he must pay restitution for the damages he has inflicted upon others. This should be under civil, not criminal law, so judgement should be delivered “on the preponderance of evidence,” not the “beyond reasonable doubt” required for criminal cases. Thus, restitution can be delivered to the victims through quick legal action; and that too, without calling for the police.

O&M writes about Paul Ehrlich, the man who always predicts an approaching doomsday. The day has never come, he has been proved wrong time and again, but he just doesn’t give up-

Paul Ehrlich, author (with Anne Ehrlich) of The Population Bomb (1968), one of the biggest, um, bombs of the last several decades, is unrepentant. Ehrlich’s main thesis was that the world was running out of natural resources, and population growth was expanding exponentially, leading to an inevitable decline in living standards. Needless to say, none of the three predictions came true, and Bomb became one of those books that cultural anthropologists study for its train-wreck value. Now, apparently for laughs, the Electronic Journal of Sustainable Development has invited the Ehrlichs to write “The Population Bomb Revisited” for a forthcoming symposium.

This is of interest because the Indian government doesn’t believe that population is a resource either. Especially Azad.

Even more serious is the growth in green fascism. The Gorean mentality is spreading. People are afraid of being perceived as committing “treason against the planet” (Krugman). For an example, read K.M’s post. On the other subject he deals with, an article on the views that US “science czar” John Holdren held in a book co-authored by the usual suspects, the Ehrlichs, he says-

The man is a monster. He is in power and he has merely substituted overpopulation with climate change. Worse, the president who appointed him was elected with a comfortable majority. It has come to this. Can the situation still be reversed peacefully? I doubt it.

I consider Holdren’s and the Ehrlichs’ views to be monstrous. However I wanted to check the veracity of the quotes. Google books does not offer a preview of the 1977 edition of Ecoscience. Questia does allow a brief preview, and a text search. Read the preface carefully-

The realization has dawned that seemingly disparate events in the economic, environmental, and political spheres are interconnected. That civilization has entered a period of grave crisis is now doubted only by those afflicted with incurable Micawberism; everyone who is alertable is alerted.

But being alert to the existence of a crisis is not enough if a rational response to it is to be generated. One must also thoroughly understand the elements of the crisis and how they interact. The present book, based on Population, Resources, Environment, is an attempt to provide a more thorough, up-to-date understanding of the population-resource-environment predicament and to discuss strategies for dealing with it. In format and emphasis it is quite different from the earlier book.


We have tried throughout the book to state clearly where we stand on various matters of controversy. Our apprehension about the course of humanity expressed in Population, Resources, Environment and Human Ecology has deepened; if there is another edition of Ecoscience, we hope that events will then permit a more optimistic evaluation.

I queried Questia with about ten separate quotations supplied by the article. And nearly everyone of them was on the page cited by the article. From the preface, and the material surrounding the quotations, it is clear that they are not being “taken out of context.”

The only ones that can write about how to forcibly sterilize people, how to force people to either bear children, or abort them depending on the needs of society, who declare that since “neither the Declaration of Independence nor the Constitution mentions a right to reproduce,” one must not assume such a right—all this in a clinical manner—are the ones who would have no problems if some one does engage in such activities.

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  • blr_p  On July 13, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    Dharker’s article implied prohibition has been going on for 50 years in Gujarat !!

    Is this true ?

    I guess I’d have less trouble if they just came out and said you can bootleg in the name of private enterprise as Dharkers’ article clearly exposes the racket going on.

    • Aristotle The Geek  On July 13, 2009 at 9:39 pm

      # “Is this true ?”
      Seems to be the case. An exhaustive report on it by a magazine dedicated to the industry-

      Gujarat is a dry State ever since it came into being on May 1, 1961. It is the only State in India with prohibition in force till date. But the moot question is has prohibition really curbed the smuggling of Alcoholic beverages entering the State? The answer is well known. In fact, it is one of the most thriving illegal businesses prevailing in the State. And what is surprising is that this illicit liquor trade has the backing from not only the public guardians but also from people’s representatives from the State.

      And “India’s former minister Arun Shourie, on his visit to Gujarat had called the State government’s stance on the prohibition of liquor as hypocrisy…”

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