A GLIMPSE OF IT WITHIN THE TAVERN CAUGHT
BETTER THAN IN THE TEMPLE LOST OUTRIGHT!
(Scott Fitzgerald translation of RUBAIYAT of Omar Khayyam)
The best part about studying English Literature in college is that the content of the lecture is not more important than the intensity and style with which the lecture is delivered. Essentially, a Lecturer’s emphasis on certain points could set the student’s mind rolling in that direction. At college, i have had the good fortune of listening to lectures delivered by professors who could recite all the Five Acts along with the different scenes, of most of the Tragedies of Shakespeare- at least they were clever enough to create such an illusion in our impressionable minds – they used to make the students read the passages of different characters assigned to them and during the course of such reading, without referring to the text of the play, such professors could correct a reader, of a word skipped or slurred, with ease. So the impression of the students was that the professors knew the lines by heart!
It was not such Professors and Lecturers who excited our interest in Literature but it was those lecturers who had plunged into life and tasted LIFE who were more inspiring and one of those was a professor by name Eugene D’ Vaz. Besides being a great professor he was an accomplished Portrait artist and many of his paintings should still be adorning the libraries and staff rooms of St. Joseph’s college, Trichy. Being an Autonomous college, St. Joseph’s could prescribe its own syllabus, but being a Jesuit college, RUBAIYAT of Omar Khayyam was NOT prescribed, yet some of those Professors who had plunged into LIFE and were not stuck with the mere text of Shakespeare, used to launch on the RUBAIYAT from time to time and make the classes very interesting.
One of the poems which still stays fresh in my mind is excerpted above. I could not for the life of me understand what or how a place of worship could be compared with a TAVERN, worse still placed above a temple! But life teaches us many things and we learn a lot from others’ experience.
In the state of Tamil Nadu, where more than six crore ( sixty million) people reside, 20% of the state revenue comes from production, distribution and sale of liquor! To quantify it in terms of $, it would be $ 5 Billion! Whether the maximum sale of liquor takes place in TN or not, i am sure that TN is the state which must be raking in so much in terms of revenue for the state! These Government monopolized liquor shops have become the abode of the dejected, the bereaved, the wayward and the fun-seeking! The Rules are that these Liquor shops shall not open before 8 AM in the morning!
The Indian state of Tamil Nadu known as : Land of Temples. Nearly 33000 ancient temples – many at least 600 to 800 years old, scattered all over the land. Studded with complex architecture, variety of sculptures, & rich inscriptions – capture the very essence of the culture & heritage of Tamil land, historically more than 2000 years old.
Tamil Nadu State Marketing Corporation (TASMAC) is a company owned by the Government of Tamil Nadu, which has a monopoly over wholesale and retail vending of alcohol in Tamil Nadu, a state in India. It controls the Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) trade in the state. As of 2010, the company has around 30,000 employees and operates about 6800 retail liquor outlets throughout the state.
One of the Directive Principles of State Policy, as enshrined in the Constitution of India appearing at Article 47 states:-
47. Duty of the State to raise the level of nutrition and the standard of living and to improve public health.-
The State shall regard the raising of the level of nutrition and the standard of living of its people and the improvement of public health as among its primary duties and, in particular, the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health.
Excerpted below is Rule 10 of the Rules relating to vending of liquor in Tamil Nadu:
THE TAMIL NADU LIQUOR RETAIL VENDING (IN SHOPS AND BARS)
(G.O.Ms.No.292, Prohibition and Excise (VI), dated the 3rd November 2003).
10. Location of Bar.—(1) The bar shall lie within the shop or adjoining the shop.
(2) The bar shall have minimum plinth area of ten square metres.
(3)Every bar shall be housed in pucka building and no part of the bar shall be thatched
either on the sides or on the roof. The bar room shall be sufficiently screened so that
consumption of liquor is not visible from outside and shall also be provided with fans.
Sufficient number of tables and chairs for the consumers to conveniently sit and
consume liquor shall be provided. Such room shall not be used as a club or recreation
room or for any other purpose whatsoever. No gambling or any kind of disorderly
conduct in the shop shall be permitted.
(5) Every shop shall have a signboard in Tamil in front of the shop showing the number
of the shop and details regarding authorization issued by the Corporation for the shop,
the price of liquor in different sizes of bottles sold in the shop shall also be displayed.
There shall also be displayed on the signboard the following slogans in bold letters
about the evils of drinking and such other slogans as may be approved by the
“Liquor-ruins country, family and life”
TRULY, SPIRIT IS QUICKENING! I love Tamil Nadu, as this is the only state which finances most of its extravagant doles, out of the SPIRITUAL (Y)EARNINGS of the TAVERNERS!
I am reminded of a joke once narrated by my Hariyanvi friend: Once an old lady was not able to control her urge to pee in a public place. So she chose a corner near a crowded bus station and relieved herself. While she was still relieving herself, a cop appeared from nowhere and struck his lathi on the road a couple of times to rattle the old lady, unmindful of her age. However, as is the custom, the lady hurriedly got up and placed a 2 rupee coin on the palm of the cop and left. After 5 minutes the old lady found the cop sipping tea in a nearby shop, and she walked upto him and said, “MEIN NA MUTHTHI THO, TU KYA PEETHA HAI? (in English: If i do not pee, what will u drink?)
So, for financing all those populist schemes, the Government has to depend on such spiritual concoctions being peddled by its own shops. And what a sight to behold, when cycles and bikes are parked in a neat row next to a TASMAC shop. Last heard news item was that a regular drinker called up the lady District Collector of Trichy District complaining to her that the Liquor shop was NOT BEING OPENED ON TIME BY THE TASMAC EMPLOYEES! What all issues the District Magistrate has to handle- the calls were crank calls- whatever that means. The cops traced him, it seems!
Our DIRECTIVE PRINCIPLES OF STATE POLICY is used more for acquiring land from, WE THE PEOPLE OF INDIA, and hand it over to the industrialists who project an employment opportunity for 5000 people of that area and then after 30 years hive off that unit along with the land to a buyer who pays half as per guideline value and the other half in cash! God bless India. Our Directive Principles are also selectively used by some states to include bulls and oxen to the category of COWS, when it comes to cow-slaughter.
Let us define our FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS in the lines as given by the CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY and not based on Swaran Singh’s Report!