The honourable Supreme Court (SC) in its wisdom has banned the sale of liquor along national highways. This is unlikely to reduce drunken driving and accidents, as the recklessly inebriated will continue to crash their vehicles, making roads in India one of the most dangerous in the world. Some bad habits die hard, and unfortunately drinking happens to be one such vice.
A blanket ban, on alcohol, abattoir or currency, can never be a solution; regulation, tough laws and proper policing, is the way forward. I would, however, be happier if the SC prohibited sale of liquor along all roads, perhaps also markets and malls, not with the aim of arresting road fatalities, but to rid a nuisance, even a menace. It maybe a good idea to make liquor available only online in the process promoting digital India and also not losing out on tax collections. I am sure the present government will slip in a mandatory Aadhaar linkage somewhere in a money bill.
These steps sadly are unlikely to dampen the spirits of the diehard drunkards who will continue to envision their vehicle to be an aeroplane that can take off and road to be an airport tarmac. And, kill themselves and others in the process. I, however, have reason to propose a complete embargo on sale of booze along all roads, by-lanes, gullies and alleys, with alcohol permitted to be served only at licensed pubs, restaurants and hotels. Like particulate matter and mosquitoes, road side liquor vends have permeated in our midst.
However, the problem is that these kiosks do not limit their services to just selling liquor. A boozing ecosystem has evolved around them to cater to the customers that like to attain instant nirvana, liquor bottle in hand, squatting on pavements, cars, motor cycles, adjoining dhabas, improvised machans and rooftops, chairs and tables. Loud music, cigarette and street vendors specialising in kebabs do brisk business through the night.
The atmosphere is akin to a beach party in Goa, except that it is mostly stag and right in the middle of an arterial road in a city, next to residential complexes, schools, temples and many holy cows, not lucky enough to be rescued by gau rakshaks, aimlessly roaming about. I live in Gurgaon where there can be a shortage of water, electricity, milk and vegetables, but not chilled beer or whisky any time of the day or night. Alcohol and traffic jams are always in abundance in Gurgaon.
And, what is more the spirits are readily available alongside any road, I can bet, 500 metres either way. Each of the outlet turns into a watering hole every night, an open air revelry that turns crazier as the weekend approaches. Posses of cops patrol the streets, set up barricades and breath analysers. However, they are powerless to act against the vendors protected by the higher ups. It is thus inevitable that in the dead of the night an inebriated bike rider or car driver assumes the dark ditch to be a continuation of the potholed and tarred road and flies into eternity forever.
Hence, I propose that the honourable SC bans sale of liquor along all roads, not just highways.