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94487Fwd: Women's views on impact of tasmac shops

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  • Venkatraman Ns
    Mar 2, 2014

                                                                NANDINI VOICE FOR THE DEPRIVED
                                                                     Website:- www.nandinivoice.org


      May we submit the views of women on tasmac liquor shops in Tamil Nadu for your study.
      Thanks and regards


                                                                    WHAT  WOMEN SAY ?

      Nandini Voice for the Deprived , a Chennai based NGO , organised an essay competition for women in Tamil Nadu on “Impact of tasmac shops on women’s life in Tamil Nadu”.

      603 women from all over Tamil Nadu , belonging to cross section of society at different  economic and educational level, submitted their entry for the competition either in English or in Tamil.

      Observation of the judges :

      None of the 603 participants  approved the tasmac shops and all of them wanted the shops to be closed.  While many said that the shops should be closed forthwith immediately, a few of them said that it should be closed in stages over a period of time. 

      All the 603 women participants provided their full name  and  address, which give the impression  that women have  very strong  views on the subject and  they do not mind  about any consequences  that they  may have to face by revealing their identity.

      Quite a number of  them started writing after expressing their gratitude to the organisers of the essay competition for providing them an opportunity to vent out their views and feelings, which they feel , have not been heard so far by those in charge of governing the state.

      Many of them asked the organisers to convey to them  the views expressed by other participants in the competition , as they were anxious to know whether all women in Tamil Nadu hold similar views as their own. 

      Quite a few women have said that it would  be immaterial  for them as to whether they would win prize in this competition and they are satisfied that an  opportunity  has been given to them to  express their views, which they hoped will  be conveyed to the government of Tamil Nadu and there would be impact  on the future developments in the state with regard to tasmac shops.

      Number of them have described their personal experience in detail, which really brought tears in the eyes of the judges who evaluated the essays.

                                                                 Prize winners :

      1.       Ms. P. Alli

      2.       Ms. Kalyani Sreedharan

      3.       Ms. P. Anu

      4.       Ms. M. Uthamaseeli

      5.       Ms. Thirumamagal Kannan

      6.       Ms. Jayalakshmi Thirunavukarasu

      7.       Ms. Vasanthi Krishnamurthy

      8.       Ms. Geetha Gopalan

      9.       Ms. Bhuvaneswari K.K.

      10.   Ms. B. Saraswathi

      11.   Ms. A.M.Valarmathi

      12.   Ms. N.S.C. Aarthi

      13.   Ms. Kavitha Manikandan

      14.   Ms. N.Hemavathi


                                                          HIGHLIGHTS OF THE VIEWS OF PARTICIPANTS

      Rapidly increasing number of liquor addicts :

      The percentage of increase in income for the government through sale of liquor in tasmac shops is well over  an average of 19% per annum in the last ten years. Such increase  in sale is due to increasing number of liquor addicts, who are increasing at well over 8% per annum in Tamil Nadu, of which youth constitutes a big share. Due to such conditions, the future of Tamil Nadu  itself has become a question mark. This is an alarming scenario about which any welfare government should be highly concerned.


      Privatisation of educational institutions and government take over of tasmac shops :

      In a welfare state , it would be more appropriate that the government should invest and manage educational institutions and hospitals in good measure directly for the sake of the poor people and it should leave  affairs  such as tasmac shops in the hands of private sector so that the government  would not be a party to it and it  can control and discipline such activities.  It appears to be the other way in Tamil Nadu now.

      Death due to liquor habit :

      In  the prohibition days, the number of death due to illicit liquor  was in the region of 500 per annum. But, now,  the number of people dying , losing limbs and becoming disabled  consequent  to accidents due to drunken driving, murders due to liquor brawl , suicide by helpless women  etc. could be well over 10,000 in Tamil Nadu every year.  The government’s argument that tasmac shops are necessary to avoid deaths due to illicit liquor fall flat in the light of the above data.

      Age  of liquor addicts:

      In the prohibition days, some people used to become liquor addicts  at the age of 25 and above, which is a microscopic figure compared to the present number of increasing liquor addicts in the state ,.  These days , there are many instances of boys in the age group of 13 taking to liquor habit and several boys in their teens becoming liquor addicts.

      Miserable conditions of women:

      In the prohibition days, women particularly belonging to lower income group , certainly lived with greater peace and with harmony in the family.  Today, with more than 40% of men folk in Tamil Nadu reported to be consuming liquor, the atrocities against women and children in homes and even in public places and work places  have reached intolerable level. The breakages of marriage have become too frequent  and  abuse  of girls  by drunken relatives and even by drunken men teachers are no more uncommon.  The sufferings of women and children should  be seen to be believed.

      Government spending on welfare measures & freebies :

      After driving thousands of poor  families into poverty and debt condition by opening many tasmac shops in nook and corner of the state and making people  spend substantial portion of their income in buying liquor, government is extending welfare measures such as rehabilitation   and counselling for drunken men and providing idlies and chapathis  at very low price  and free rice to  poor people to save them from starvation. While any welfare government should help the poor people to  improve their life conditions by providing concessions and support measures so that they would live and progress with dignity and confidence,  what the government of Tamil Nadu is doing amount to  making the citizens  poor both economically and in health due to liquor consumption and then providing support measures.  It is sad that the government does not realise that its actions are affecting the productivity of the society and the dignity of the people, forcing them to live life long expecting  the government freebies for their survival.

      Liquor habit spreading amongst women too:

      What should cause  even more  concern is that liquor habit is gradually increasing amongst women too , particularly amongst the educated and well employed women , who should know better. While some women too have taken to liquor habit in lower income group also , the percentage of women amongst the educated class taking to liquor habit is much more than the percentage of women amongst lower income group taking to liquor habit.

      Pleadings of great men ignored :

      Great patriots and scholars like Mahatma Gandhi, Rajaji, Periyar, Kamaraj and Annadurai pleaded for the cause of prohibition and did their best to wean away people from liquor habit during their life time.  A new generation was brought up by their efforts, who do not have liquor habit. All such good work have now been wiped out in one stroke by government lifting the prohibition.The successive governments of Tamil Nadu during the last few decades , which have lifted the prohibition , have treated the views of such great leaders and sayings of Tirukural with scant regard. It is ridiculous that the Tamil Nadu government celebrate the birthdays and anniversaries of these leaders while ignoring their messages.

      Actions reveal that the Tamil Nadu government does not care:

      While there have been number of protests by women in different places in the state against tasmac shops  and many agitations have been carried out by people to remove tasmac shops from their localities and courts have given number of directives with regard to location of tasmac shops near schools, temples and residential areas, the government is actually increasing the number of tasmac shops with an eye on the liquor income. Further, it has started promoting  elite liquor shops in malls, obviously with the intention of attracting rich people and making it easy for well employed  women to purchase liquor conveniently.

      While the government gives  lame excuse  that tasmac shops are necessary  to avoid death due to illicit liquor , its real objective is to multiply its income , so that it can extend freebies to buy peace with the poor people who are facing  economic distress conditions.

       Society is losing its sensitivity:

      It is tragic that  society itself appears to be reconciling itself to such sordid conditions due to widespread consumption of liquor in Tamil Nadu. These days,  whether it is marriage or funeral or  parties, liquor has become an essential item. While women live in great fear and law and order has become a grave issue with the liquor addicts doing havoc, many members of the society seem to have reconciled themselves that such conditions are unavoidable anymore.

      Does the government need liquor income?

      Today, more than 25% of Tamil Nadu government’s income is contributed by tasmac liquor sale. This has resulted in avoidable and wasteful spending by the government and  investments in unproductive schemes and inadequate concern about efficiencies.  This has also resulted in increase in corruption and  dishonest  acts , as people want to make money by whatever means to buy liquor for which they have become addicts. In the prohibition days, there was no dearth of development activities  and the fiscal discipline in the government machinery was of high order.  Certainly  there is a lot of scope for the government to reduce its expenses by avoiding wasteful and unproductive activities and projects and  not spending money on freebies for the poor which have become counter productive. As a matter of fact, the tasmac liquor income conveniently covers the inefficient governance.

      Tamil Nadu government should see the  governance in Gujarat , where  prohibition is in force.

      Will the government respond? :

      Whatever maybe the pleadings of the poor women against tasmac shops, the politicians running the government and  members of some political parties in the state are unlikely to care. Women  who are the principal sufferers have to  organise themselves and protest strongly but  this is also unlikely , since the poor women have now become too weak even to protest. Therefore, the only option available for women is to take a united decision that during the forthcoming parliamentary poll, women will not vote in favour of any political party that would not promise prohibition in it’s election manifesto.  The present day  politicians understand only vote bank politics and women should respond.