To drink or to be drunk

The question on liquor prohibition is a topic that stimulates intense sentiments with clear demarcated positions. On one hand there are arguments with religious overtones on why prohibition should continue, on the other, rebuttals on how prohibition has failed and affected the society and then you have the government that has taken the middle path of partial prohibition. In any case, none of these approaches or positions actually addresses the question of prohibition; and hence are deterrents that will only prolong the impasse, which of course would only intensify and embolden bootlegging, much to their delight. 

What is evident is that over the course of time debates around prohibition has tragically shifted away from the actual question of ‘prohibition’ and is now centered on religious ethics of whether a person who consumes alcohol is moral or amoral. In a sense the issue has been individualized and it is very possible that Nagas could find themselves in a situation where individual worldviews and values of a few people could be legislated into a policy over a society. In many ways the actors involved around issues of prohibition have personalized the debate, leaving little or no room for any opinion which is seen as propaganda of the opposing position.  

It is fair to say alcohol did adversely affect a generation of Nagas and the issue of prohibition has been a very personal journey for those affected by it. Similarly, it is only fair to discern and demand an incisive examination on the factors why Naga society became vulnerable to alcohol abuse. It suggests that alcohol abuse was to numb the pain caused by unresolved social and personal tribulations. In the same way, it fundamental to scrutinize if and why increase in drug abuse had any relation to prohibition. Hence a primary question, why has consumption of alcohol become an issue of contention; and how would prohibition of liquor contribute in resolving the problem? 

Presently, more than the question of prohibition, the difficulty is agreeing on a method appropriate in addressing the prohibition issue. Thus far, the method has been illusively damaging to the process, which has only succeeded in hardening extreme position. There are pressing needs and somehow the central issues around prohibition have to be recovered and depersonalized from moral judgments. It will allow room and space for varying democratic expressions which is required for building societal consensus. 

Perhaps the challenge facing the advocators of prohibition is to convince the public imagination on how prohibition can be successful in the presence of a large military contingent, for whom the policy would not apply. Likewise, opponents of prohibition need to persuade that alcohol would not have negative consequences on society. Either way, it must be a face-saving democratic solution. The maturity of the Naga conscience is at test!