Gandhi picked his battles: Alcohol over Tea

Gandhiji’s stand on prohibition: Time, objective & its irrelevance today
February 11, 2017
It will direct any scholar to an instructional abundance
November 17, 2017

Alcohol has been consumed in India since Ancient times. While we never called it Beer, Whisky or any such western names, we had had our own toddys, Mahuva, Feni and so on – drinks, which deserve to be treated as “National Drinks” proudly rather than suppressing and banning them. Imagine Scotland without Scotch, Russia without Vodka, Germany and Holland without their Beers, England and Wales without its Ales – these drinks have been around even before organized Agriculture (source: according to National Geographic, Feb 2017).

For Indians to take on tea, a leaf of which didn’t exist in India commercially until the British started importing, taxing and monopolizing its distribution is shame for anyone who drinks it and is opposed to consuming liquor – how studip can you be when it comes to History?

The Gandhians conveniently forget that Gandhi was vehemently opposed to anyone consuming Tea – he would forbid anyone to enter the Ashram unless they were free of the Tea Habit.

This is what Gandhi ji wrote in “Key to Health” in 1942:

“The use of tea is said to have originated in China,” he wrote. “It has a special use in that country. As a rule one cannot rely on the purity of drinking water in China and therefore it must be boiled before use to ensure safety.

“In my opinion, the usefulness of tea, if any, consists in the fact that it supplies a warm sweet drink which contains some milk. The same purpose may well be served by taking boiled hot water mixed with a little milk and sugar.”

This was his way of hitting the british wallets where it hurts most – Alcohol and Tea were the major tax earners for the British, and the British literally ran a propganda machine to make Tea “Indian” to also have the double advantage of destabilizing the monopoly of the Chinese exports of Tea. However, it was a lot easier for Gandhi to unite Hindus and Muslims on the Alcohol front than on Tea as it put them on a higher moral ground (since their respective religions had something to say about abstinence – from times when liquor was toxic). The moral ground did unite the various castes – after all, the expat British did have a reputation of overdoing drinking (as all Armies and people away from their families do in alien territories and sometimes hostile environment – in fact, our own Indian Armed forces are exempt from any Prohibition of Alcohol wherever they are stationed. Beer is served on the Army Golf range in Ahmedabad. That does not mean otherwise normal law abiding citizens living a regular life in their own state of birth would act like suppressive, commanding, drunk colonists).

I’d like to engage a debate on whether the so called Gandhians do follow Gandhian principles – lets restrict it to only (a) not drink tea, (b) have sex only for procreation, and (c) weave their own cloth.

Jai Hind!

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