Friday, December 28, 2012

Alcohol free Bhutan will remain a distant dream

The other night, I viewed a program on our national channel and the title translated loosely would read, “In-house Talk”. It aired some youth who were the push-out(s) of rehab centre. Even those recovered lots insist on having an in house rule for the sale of alcohol in our town and cities. 

The program circum-navigated around alcohol!

Firstly, our bars and hotels boldly inscribe, “NO ALCOHOL BELOW 18 YEARS”.  Let’s say that this rule although in place, has minimal enforcement. This social ill will remain as long as the Bhutanese mindset remains what is generally perceived- “As long as I get the money, who cares about age?” If alcohol has become a social ill, why a host of breweries are allowed to operate? Does it mean government should blame the consumers of alcohol? Or our government has no say on the three major breweries operating in the three major-border towns? Or does it generate revenue for the government at the cost of its citizen’s health and well being? Ours is a miniature society that seeks happiness for all citizens and if alcohol is abundant, may be the happiness thing is out of bound. 

Secondly, my nature of work left me for four years in a remote village. The warning, otherwise seen in bars and hotels doesn’t apply in the rural villages. It’s because people begin drinking even before they reach their teen age. There are a host of reasons why people resort to drinking in rural villages. And for the urban dwellers, may be you know why people drink? If our country seeks the youth to be productive and responsible citizens of tomorrow, then close down all breweries. How many of our people prefer Ara over beer and Bangchang over whiskey? A very negligible lot! Perhaps, this is a million Ngultrums question?  This is the highlight because, it talked of Ara. Ara these days is the drink of the country bumpkins I guess. Townspeople rejoice in hard drinks and beers. 

Thirdly, the program highlighted on the economic impact and deaths by alcohol far exceeding by other causes. This is costing our government exchequer dearly. In financially difficult times, it is important that spending is curtailed. And the Bhutanese I know spend on alcohol than any other things. If alcohol in not available, where is the need to spend? None! On the other hand, I know there will be a thriving black market but is doing something good worth the effort? If it’s good then I grudgingly believe it’s worth doing it twice. Alcohol free Bhutan will remain a distant dream if production (Local or commercial) is rampant. There is no way that people can be held responsible for consuming alcohol if production houses operate with no government intervention.

Food for thought: Alcohol doesn’t answer all questions but it certainly helps forget the question.
Good day folks!

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