Friendship Party near Pune : As you sow so shall you reap!

As you sow so shall you reap! S N Goenka, who reintroduced Vipassana Mediation to the world except Myanmar, offers a telling example of this. He asks, suppose one were to plant the seeds of Datura, then offer it fervent prayers, perform whatever rituals one desires, or beseech it earnestly, Would it then germinate & blossom into a Mango tree and eventually shower its bounty on its worshipper? Would all the worship come to pass? Any sensible person would answer in negative whatever may be his beliefs. Yet that is precisely what we expect of our generation next. A late night party near Pune was busted by the district’s rural police and of course they had also dutifully invited the media to report on the spectacle.

IE report is sober and confines itself to stating facts. Sakal couldn’t resist the temptation of playing to regional gallery a la Maharashtra Navnirman Sena of Raj Thackrey & of proffering some gratuitous advice to boot. Its headline screams “Drunk Students’ rowdyism in Theur”. Over 500 students participated in a booze party on the occasion of friendship day it says, but adds most were from outside Maharashtra. It also gave names of the organizers but doesn’t mention they were thoroughbred Maharashtrians. Respected names in Society, it further reports, have called upon the Education Institutes to which these students belong and who charge exorbitant course fees of them to also inculcate sound values. 
Advice of the well meaning individuals may be fair, but are the students really blameworthy when none was a minor? Maharashtra excise law states that storage, serving and imbibing of spirits require licenses for first two and permit for last. Rule of permits is observed by 99.9999% of tipplers in breach. Yet, Excise & Police departments routinely ignore it and reportedly make handsome profits for their inaction. Is it then fair to blame the gen-next alone for this behavior? Secondly, their unruly party reportedly disturbed peace of the villagers when it is time to rest & sleep. Now this is breach of decorum and law that needs to be punished. But its application has to be even handed. On every 31st December, eve of the New Year, there are literally hundreds of parties taking place in most cities and even towns in India with liquor flowing freely to the accompaniment of high decibel music. Then there are the noisy religious festivities, high decibel marriage ceremonies, or raucous political jamborees that are equally guilty of breach of public peace at odd hours. None of these should be tolerated without exception if the youngsters are to learn the right lessons. But what we see is observance of this rule too in breach despite Supreme Court orders to halt all such activities by 22:00 hours.
If we look at larger picture, there too hardly anything comes to mind that would inspire young generation to become responsible & ethical citizens. In fact, the cues provided by our Government, Industry, and the much toasted “Middleclass” entice them to do exactly the opposite. Alcohol industry’s turnover exceeds tens of thousands of crore rupees with growth clocking at rosy 12 to 15%. Government Policy that was formulated under pressure from civil society prohibits liquor advertising in print & visual media. Yet the Industry has found a way to openly cheat through surrogate advertising wherein some other legit product with same label symbolizes the “Real thing”. Everyone knows what is going on, but few object. It also gives a valuable lesson: “Cheating is fine”. It is clever. Liquor advertising code mandates that advertisements should not unduly glamourize drinking or associate unrealistic outcomes with it.

Yet liquor advertisements do exactly what the Code prohibits. Drinking is associated with Manhood, Freedom, Liberal attitude, Status, Sex, and what have you. In fact, there is a very simple test of what consumerism is and what need is. Look closely at how the product is advertised. The farther removed the advertisement is from the real product, the more it tries to focus one’s attention on everything else but what it wants to be bought, or the appeals it makes are to human weaknesses and base instincts, then it is an absolute guarantee that an illusion is being sold. It is time to remember, Caveat Emptor!, Buyer Beware. Moreover, liquor advertisements are targeted at youngsters. Get them young is the motto. After all most such addictions begin before one reaches thirty.
Government has a very liberal licensing policy for liquor. Activists working with village and small town communities keep complaining that access to potable drinking water doesn’t exist or is highly tortuous but liquor vends are licensed freely despite opposition from women & children. It is easy to find liquor vend than a source of potable water. Tippler is seen as a source of excise revenue rather than a citizen. The brother of the owner of Sakal is India’s agriculture minister and is in charge of Food and civil supplies department. He enjoys a well cultivated pro-farmer image. His party is in power along with the Congress in Maharashtra and is part of UPA at the centre. Yet Maharashtra government encouraged production of alcohol from grains and offered subsidies on the top to the industry. Maharashtra in 2008-09 needed 15 million tons of food grains to feed its population, but produced only 9.3 million tons. The 200 million litres of spirits it had licensed to be produced from coarse grain – Sorghum – would consume over half million tons and thus further worsen the food availability. Such policies unequivocally endorse crass consumerism with little regard for the vast poor citizens on whose votes the politicians come to power.
Treatment meted out to the partying students raised the hackles of the editor of a leading National Daily to pen a piece next day : Pune’s Muthaliks. While he has a point about silly rules, their sillier enforcement by police, and enforcer’s craving for publicity; he too has associated drinking or partying with “Democracy” & “Individual Freedoms”. He too has knowingly or unknowingly bought into the message that clever liquor advertising has so successfully delivered to the youth. Before one points fingers at the gen-next, we need to first put our house in order. 

One Response to “Friendship Party near Pune : As you sow so shall you reap!”

  1. S N Bal Says:

    That was a very good article. It is indeed a fact that when one points
    a finger at the 'gen-next', three fingers point towards the individual
    who has pointed the finger. That's reality. However that does not mean
    that NO finger points to the 'gen-next' – one does indeed!! So as a
    logical corrollory BOTH -the 'gen-next' and 'we' have to get our
    acts together.This cannot be done sequentially, but concurrently. And
    what does that mean? Some form of control (I do acknowledge that that
    word is abhorrent to some: but it is inescapable ).
    It is indeed the freedom of the 'gen-next' or for anyone else to do as
    they like:provided it does not harm others or even themselves. I'm
    afraid that in my humble opinion to destroy oneself is NOT a freedom to
    be exercised unchecked – at least so long humans live in societies and
    not as mere aggregates of individuals.
    The 'gen-next' must enjoy but in a responsible manner. Since they are
    adults (at least chronologically) it is expected that they (as
    autonomous self-thinking adults) know where to draw the line. If
    they dont then they have to learn the hard way (since they
    are not willing to learn from their predecessors). 'We' must get our
    act together, but so must 'they'. To blame only ourselves and not the
    'gen-next' is a form of misplaced 'pseudo-intellectual extremism' and
    does indeed approach a neurotic dimension (howsoever well meant).

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