Lifting prohibition after 3 decades Noting the ground reality

Monitor, regulate and not take refuge under the illusion that prohibition has effectively checked alcohol consumption amongst the people. On the other hand, Manipur continues to rank high on the index of alcohol consumption and is named among the States which have a high level of alcohol consumption. Do away with the pretension and this is the best way to regulate and monitor the production and sale of alcohol is apparently the line that the State Government has stuck to in deciding to lift prohibition, a decision taken by the Cabinet of the BJP led Government on September 20 of 2022. Time can certainly effect changes and so the change of stance of the State Government from 1991 when prohibition was imposed under the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Act to September 20, 2022 and the message is, prohibition has been a dismal flop in the last 30 years that it was in force here. Left unsaid but clearly audible is the point that this is also an admission on the part of the Government that it has not been able to effectively implement a decision that it took more than 30 years back. Nothing surprising in this, for prohibition has never, ever worked in any part of the world and one is left wondering whether any scientific study has been conducted to find out or understand why prohibition has always failed across the world. Health Minister Dr Sapam Ranjan was straight to the point in asserting that it is not only the revenue that stands to be gained from lifting prohibition that goaded the State Government to take the decision, but also the fact that the State Government is concerned about the health of the people. Another implicit admission that the Government has failed to check alcohol consumption. Explicitly said was the point that some kind of a mechanism is needed to regulate the production and sale of the locally brewed alcohol as it was found that the alcohol content in the desi drinks was much higher than the permissible limit. A fact that cannot be denied at all and it is best left to the wisdom of the people to decide whether the Government has done the right thing or not, but the ground reality must be taken into consideration. And when one talks about the people let it be clear that this term is not the sole prerogative of anyone and it would do more harm by loudly proclaiming that so and so stand has been taken along with the people.
The reality says that those who enjoy a peg or two or three will lay their hands on the drinks of their choice whether there is prohibition or not. The teetotaller will not touch a drop even if the best single malt is placed before him or her. This is the reality and it is this reality that should be acknowledged. Now that a decision to lift prohibition has been taken, it would be interesting to see how the Government goes about with the task of awarding or allotting the license to sell liquor. Better still it would also be equally interesting to see how it plans to regulate the sale and production of the more well known local drinks, Yu in this case. With so many having pitched in with their ideas that the Yu of Sekmai, Andro, Phayeng etc can rub shoulders with some of the best known across the country and the world such as the Japanese Sake, Feni of Goa, Vodka of Russia, Tequila of Mexico, Soju of South Korea etc, can Manipur expect to see Yu with all the needed packaging ? As things stand right now, some enterprising folks have already started bottling and packaging Yu that carries a lot of promise and it would be interesting to see how much revenue it can earn once exported outside Manipur. However as with all things, lifting prohibition does not mean that drunkenness is allowed. The responsibility lies with the people and how effectively the Government is able to regulate the sale and consumption of alcohol will depend to a large extent on how the people live up to its responsibility.