The Social Tragedy of Alcohol – A seminar report

Inauguration of a seminar The Social Tragedy of Alcohol

Organized by Gram Seva Sangh in collaboration with  Madya Nishedha Andolana Karnataka and Karnataka Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi

23 Feb’19 Sat. 10:30 am to 2 pm | Kasturba Hall, Gandhi Bhavana, Bengaluru

“Its wrong and immoral for a nation to supply intoxicating liquor to those who are addicted to drink” – M K Gandhi.

Mahatma GandhiJi on Prohibition

Going on the same lines of the above quote the Gram Seva Sangh organised a open ended seminar on 23rd February 2019 , Tuesday in Gandhi Bhavan, Bangalore,  drawing inferences on how alcohol is a social tragedy. Unless you are living in the biblical times we know that alcohol is both a socio – cultural problem. Reports suggest that around 80% accidents , 85% domestic violence and also 37% of rapes in this ” Rama Rajya” happens due to alcoholism.

TOI reports on recent AIIMS studies

And inspite of being informed citizens there exists some unanswered questions on ban of liquor. Considering the magnanimity of the issue there are loop holes as to where to start? By whom? Is restriction or prohibition the answer? To seek answers to these complex questions, rural women from around 20 districts of North Karnataka set out to a Padyatra, in ray of hope demanding the ban of liquor,  from Chitradurga to Bengaluru. What started with merely 2500 women grew outrageously into around 5000 of them covering a distance of 200km in the 12 day Padyatra.

Glimpse of Padayatra by Suhasini Kaulagi

The attrocity and the cause of the issue spread rampently and the domino effect of which , was the Seminar. The Seminar consisted of participants of the Padyatra and celebrated key note speakers. A prayer song followed by paying heartful condolences to a lost soul (Renuka amma) in the Padyatra marked the beginning of the Seminar.

The key note speakers belonged to diverse deaneries including The Seminar threw light on the repercussions of alcohol on a social front and the possible actions that could be taken towards banning the same. The key note speakers who decorated the cause of the session, were all celebrated personalities from diverse fields of expertise, Law, medicine, civil, theatrics and politics, hence providing us with several perspectives on the same issue.  To name a few, Arundhati Nag , Prasanna , Rani Satish , Dr. Prathima Murthy , Ajay Kumar  singh to Victims of Alcoholism like Mrs. Mokshamma , Mrs Virupuna and Mrs Uma, all speakers had one point to say in commonality,  that alcohol destroys families before Liver. 

Yashodhara Daasappa, Freedom Fighter and Veteran Politician from Karnataka

The first speaker in the seminar was Mrs. Virupama, who was a victim of alcohol-abuse herself. She spoke about how her family faces an financial crunch due to the habitual drinking and addiction of all the men in her family. Then she went on to explain how the Padyaatra took shape and how many stages it was divided into. As a conclusion she also urged that alcohol ban should be a global cause and concern.

Virupamma, Activist, Madya Nishedha Andolana Karnataka

The second speaker Mr. Prasanna drew our attention towards the plight of the government as it only looks at alcohol through the lens of vote- banks or market value. He also probed deep into facts by stating that there are about 1.5 lakh alcohol addicts in the country with 10 crore of them clinically hospitalised. This instilled a sense of awareness amongst us, the audience and it truly called for some action.

Prasanna, Activist and Theatre Person

The third speech of the seminar was given by Mrs.Rani Satish, Karnataka Congress Vice President. Considering the political stand of the government to not ban alcohol, this speech was key in enlightening us about the issue on a political front. The gist of her speech mainly talked about how alcoholism is a threat to all rural and also urban people. She also claims that if states like Bihar, Gujrat and many others can reach success in becoming dry states, then Karnataka too can make it possible. ‘The protests shouldn’t stop’ she motivated the audience.

Rani Sateesh, Ex Minister, Veteran Politician, Karnataka

 

Coming up on the dais as the fourth speaker was Dr Pratima Murthy, director of de-addiction in NIMHANS. She enhanced our knowledge by stating the scientific health reports of WHO (World Health Organisation) which claims that 14.5% of the world between the ages of 10-60 years face drinking problems.

Dr Pratima Murthy, Head of Centre for Addiction Medicine, NIMHANS

Mookshamma, the next speaker and a participant of the Padyaatra, also indicated that due to the problems caused due to liquor is growing rampant, the 20,000 women are even fired to ban the same. She drew notice to the fact that old women, pregnant women and many other victims walked as one, in unity towards the cause and upheld the true essence of women empowerment.

Mokshamma, Activist, Madya Nishedha Andolana KarnatakaMrs. Veena from Hubli, being the legal expert, added how the support of law will help in achieving the noble cause. The directive principles of state policy, constitutionally guarantees total prohibition of drugs except the ones used for medicinal purposes, in Article 47.

National trend of Intoxicants usage reported recently by TOI

To end the seminar in an apt way, Arundati Nag, famous theatre artist, empathized with the victims of this social evil and talked about the challenges of the dream of alcohol ban. Having said that, she also went on to assure the commoners that she will always be there as a source of support for the protests and upcoming events.

Arundathi Nag, Actor and Theatre Person

In journey of seeking solutions to their existing problems they reached out to the government and inturn got a cold response. The government claims that the administration runs in the revenue earned by the selling of alcohol and hence the ban of the Same isn’t affordable. The hipocracy of this situation is evident as the socio cultural repercussions of alcoholism seeps down to a greater depth. According to the directive principles of the state policies , Article 47 of the Indian constitution guarantees a total prohibition of drugs excepting those used in medicine. Though constitutionally guaranteed this situation seems “ideal”for a simple reason, demand is equal to supply.

The Social Tragedy of Alcohol Seminar Inaugural song by mamatha

Though the Padyatra seemed glorious in its endeavours, the brutal harassment and domestic violence faced by the women remains to be the dark side of the bitter truth. The politicians making this issue about vote bank politics reflects the stale nature of administration thus trivilising the noble cause of alcohol ban. As one of the women stated THIS is just the beginning. “The tears we shed are dry but fire in our soul ignites to greater notches, we will strive till alcohol is banned. All the guest joined the seminar decided to join the movement and strengthen further.

To watch few of the speeches of the seminar click Here

Glimpse of Padayatra by Suhasini Kaulagi

Gram Seva Sangh

Madya Nishedha Andolana Karnataka and Karnataka Gandhi Smaraka Nidhi

Contact : 9980043911 or 9008484880 | GramSevaSanghIndia@gmail.com