Quite a few liquor making companies in India extensively advertise, both through print and electronic media, their non-alcoholic soda drinks. It is another story that you don’t ever see these drinks on the shelves of any stores. Obviously this is done to promote their brands so to bypass the governmental ban on advertising alcoholic and tobacco products.
In advertising terminology such ads are known as surrogate ads, which no advanced country allows. I have always been wondering why our seemingly vigilant media has never ever raised a concerted campaign against surrogate ads that promote, though indirectly, unhealthy intoxicating products. However, I could sense the reasons behind such a media-lethargy when I confronted the clamour that the media has of late been raising against the Supreme Court’s ban on liquor serving/providing places around high ways.
If one goes by these critical rants it seems India is a largely drink loving nation. Surprisingly the spirit of the ban, initiated by a lone accident-victim, which is in the larger safety interests of the people, is being ignored completely. Those who swear by the loss of revenue that states would incur due to the ban should realise that by their logic, drugs too if made easily available can generate much more revenue. This anti-ban campaign is perhaps being promoted by the liquor lobby which obviously is least concerned about the public safety or health.
Leave aside media, a learned BJP MP from Chandigarh, Kiron Kher, also found and reportedly called the Supreme Court’s ban as “illogical”.
As if this was not enough she also claims, as per newspaper reports, that the ban on liquor around highways would cause “loss of millions of job in the hotel industry”. As if all the hotels/bars in our country are situated only on highways. Though Chandigarh is a comparatively small city, it always remains short of potable water, particularly in summers. Residents, who waste water by watering plants or lawns, are often punished here through disconnections and fines. It would be interesting to note here that the city’s unnatural Sukhna lake, one of the main tourist spots, has also been facing severe shortage of water now for many years.
While Kiron Kher became very much vocal against the Supreme Court’s ban, she did not utter a word against the recent Punjab and Haryana High Court’s apparently strange order to fill the city-lake with already scarce potable water. It is another story that the wasted water, from five tube-wells 24 x7 for months, did not raise the water level of the lake even by an inch. Is liquor more important for the citizens of Chandigarh than drinking water? We must set out priorities right. I do hope that good sense would prevail amongst the Indian masses and the apex court’s ban on liquor would be implemented both in its letter and spirit.
Moreover it is not a Bihar like total ban on liquor, and will affect only a few outlets, and thus the Supreme Court has not infringed upon any of our fundamental rights. Opposing it is like offending our basic right to safe travelling on roads. Surely, none should be given an easy access to any deadly potion that authorises people to drive under its influence, especially on speedy highways.(Published on 10th April 2017, Volume XXIX, Issue 15)#