TODAY THAT DAY : 24 FEBRUARY 1949


PURITAN CAMPAIGN IN INDIA


DIFFICULTIES IN PUNJAB

East Punjab also has an under-25 rule extended to cover students, who may be over 25, But in the Punjab it will be difficult to enforce total teetotalism; the Sikhs, since the British Army trained them, have not been squeamish about drinking and the Punjab is a Sikh stronghold.

Sardar Patel, the Deputy Prime Minister told me not long ago that prohibition would certainly be enforced throughout India in accordance with Gandhian doctrine. He said there could be no comparison between India and the United States: in America prohibition was thrust on a nation of drinkers, whereas in India alcohol had never been a national habit but was a foreign importation.

Opponents of prohibition (and there are many), however, assert that the country people of southern India from time immemorial have drunk liquor made from coconuts or palm juices and that this is part of their life.

Industrial workers in Bombay and Calcutta spend as much as one-third of their tine incomes in the toddy shop; drink and drugs like bhang, are their sole relaxation. That is why both the Governor-General, whose personal asceticism does not diminish his humanity, and Pandit Nehru, who is intolerant of narrow-mindedness, have urge the Provincial governments to go easy about taking away the poor man’s drink before giving him something in its place.

Congress puritanism does not stop at drink. Madras has made smoking illegal for adolescents; there are some who want to make it illegal for everybody. The Bombay Government has started a rigorous censorship of films, eliminating anything which might mar the people’s innocence.

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