“Behind every successful man there is a woman but behind every woman’s tears
(in Tamilnadu) there is an alcoholic courtesy TASMAC.”
Tamilnadu has always been renowned for its rich culture and heritage.
With towering temples, rich body of literature, interesting music and dance
forms, unique festivals and rituals ; emphasis on values,
joint family system and respect to elders - it has been a land steeped in
tradition. Great leaders from the state like Kalki Krishnamurthy,
C.Rajagopalachari always propounded the virtues of a liquor free society and
drinking was considered taboo. The conservative and god-fearing Tamil people
were justifiably proud of a long history of prohibition.
However all this changed in 2003, when the then State government amended the
TamilNadu Prohibition Act, 1937, and decided to take over retail sales of Indian
made foreign liquor (IMFL) from private sector. TASMAC (originally
established in 1983) began metamorphosing into the many-headed beast that it
is today .
TASMAC has a monopoly on alcohol trade in the state and to study its impact,
it is necessary to understand the ill-effects of liquor first. The malady of
alcoholism has plagued mankind since the beginning of “civilisation” –
masquerading as a means of relaxation, answer to all woes, even as a status
symbol. Drinking is a social evil which knows no barriers. Alcohol is the great
equalizer. It casts its toxic shadow on a woman at all stages and ages of her life
– daughter, sister, wife, daughter in law, mother - tainting every relationship.
Its impact is thus seen in many dimensions - physical, mental, emotional,
economic, social, cultural and moral .
Alcohol at a blood concentration of 400 mg% can kill a person, but that’s not
the only way it can destroy a life. Even at much lower levels, it impairs
reasoning, clouds judgement ,affects concentration, reduces inhibitions and
brings out primitive instincts – simply put ,unleashes the animal within.
So, physical abuse is but another event - black eyes and broken bones, a routine
occurrence - in the families of drunkards. The plight of guileless children
who live in fear of the foul mouthed , red-eyed, filthy creature that comes home
every night interrupting study time, hurting everyone in sight ,vomiting his guts
out, only to collapse in a heap eventually - is indeed pitiful. Most youngsters
from such dysfunctional families fail to overcome this oppression and end up as
Women may have to learnt to ignore the vulgar verbal barbs hurled upon them
every day, to endure marital rape, to harden their hearts when news of loved
one’s indiscrete affairs and immoral acts reaches them, to toil without
complaint at low paying menial jobs. But they shed bitter tears when
their meagre wages – set aside for essential expenses like school fees,
medicines, groceries, clothing – find a way back to TASMAC coffers . Heart –
broken mothers watch...