When we are discussing inspiring people of the 20th century we usually hear names like Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi. That last one can be erased from the list as soon as possible, as far as we are concerned. Sure, his nonviolent fight for the civil rights of Indians was impressive, but how many died after that because of his ideas on alcohol? Inspired by Gandhi’s ideology several states in India cling on to prohibition till this very day. And the situation is a lot more horrifying than the glory days of Al Capone in the United States. By now the peaceful Mahatma Gandhi has the blood of thousands of people on his hands.
Let’s start with a quote from Gandhi in his own magazine Young India: “You will not be deceived by the specious arguments that India must not be made sober by compulsion, and that those who wish to drink must have facilities provided for them. The state does not cater for the vices of its people. We do not regulate or license houses of ill-frame. We do not provide facilities for thieves to indulge their propensity for thieving. I hold drink to be more damnable than thieving and perhaps even prostitution. Is it not often the parent of both?”
Let’s look beside the fact that the ridiculous statement that people who drink become whores and thieves and see the stupidity of the rest of the message. The state should not allow facilities for drinking? Brilliant, the states Gujarat, Nagaland and Mizoram nowadays have complete prohibition. As well as parts of Manipur and Lakshadweep. And whenever there’s a national holiday ironically there’s a nationwide ban on alcohol sales. The result is that the people in those areas rely on illegal moonshine. Some of that liquor is just poison and that’s why we see headers like ‘More than 100 people dead in India because of alcohol‘. All because the national hero of India thought it was best that the state gave full control over the market to quacks and crooks.
Crooks? Yes, by prohibiting booze these dry provinces created a huge black market. Besides some hobbyists, idealists and poor fortune seekers the liquor market is owned by hardcore criminals. Basically the government created a new way to make money for the mafia. And by making the bad guys rich it keeps itself poor, since India is missing out on quite some tax money. Just like the prohibition in America contributed to a major financial crisis in the 1930’s.
Now we get to the moral aspect and we kick off with another quote from Gandhi as published in his weekly journal Harijan: “Having identified myself with labour, I know what ruin drink has bought to the homes of labourers given to drink. I know that they will not touch liquor if it was not within easy reach. We have contemporaneous evidence that drinkers themselves are in many cases asking for prohibition.”
Without a doubt there are a few people who think like this and they are already in too far. These are the kind of people that in other countries would visit AA-meetings. But is this really the group we should focus on to ban a good thing for everyone? In fact prohibition is more likely to have the ‘cookie jar effect’. Meaning people are more likely to drink when they;re not supposed to. Again we can point at the dry spell in the States which actually caused more people to drink than ever before.
Let’s see another quote by Gandhi in Young India: “I would rather have India reduced to a state of pauperism than have thousands of drunkards in our midst. I would rather have India without education if that is the price to be paid for making it dry.” How idiotic and ignorant can one be? As long as people were sober he’d settle for a world without doctors, architects, inventors and justice system. Back to the cavemen days.
On a world stage Gandhi operated like a magician. As he seemed to give people freedom with his right hand, he took liberties away with his left. Instead of simply banning alcohol, he could try to change the Indian drinking culture through education. Or preach moderation. But by simply forbidding alcohol he became no better than any other oppressor in the world.