India has never been a stranger to alcohol, song and dance, and late nights. Today, this means getting a drink after work, going clubbing over the weekend, hookah parlors, dance bars – the whole lot. But this is a part of Indian metropolitan life that isn’t exactly covered in the Constitution or any other legislation. Of course, in a democracy, we should have the freedom to do these things but if they are deterrent to the rights of other people, some things need to be restricted. So how do we sort out the miscreants from the good party-loving folk? Alcohol and smoking bans, dance bar bans, curfews help keep things in control, but they also restrict the fun of law-abiding citizens.
Let’s break down this situation down the Rihanna way!
1. B**** Better Have My Money
One of the things that have been banned in order to keep law and order is alcohol. Women in some parts the country, especially in rural India have supported this ban because it keeps them safe from their drunk and abusive husbands.
This is such a big problem that politicians even include alcohol bans in their election manifestos to reign in women voters. Alcohol bans are already in place in Bihar, Kerala, Gujarat, Manipur, Mizoram and Nagaland. But there’s a big drawback to these alcohol bans. It has a big impact on the economy.
For a lot of Indian states, nearly one-fifth of their state budgets are funded by booze. Tamil Nadu tops the list by earning Rs. 23,672 crore followed by Haryana at Rs.19,703 crore and Maharashtra at Rs. 18,000 crores of alcohol sales. So, an alcohol ban could be devastating to the economy of individual states and the country as a whole. These bans also have an effect on the purchasing power of the people. Goa, for example, is a hub for tourists because of its flourishing nightlife.
If the benefit outweighs the drawback, shouldn’t we should find a solution to tackle the drawback?
2. Only Girl In The World
Women in India are often blamed for crimes that happen against them. In Haryana, a girl was attacked by a minister’s son and she was blamed for ‘staying out so late at night’. This attitude, that girls should not stay out too late for their own security, is a popular justification for the crackdown on nightlife in Indian cities.
No matter what others do, a woman is blamed for being ‘too open’ or having ‘too much fun’. Cities like Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata have imposed ‘Cinderella Hours’, which are curfews for restaurants, bars and clubs. Shouldn’t you blame the guys who attacked the girls at the late night event in Bengaluru?
Maybe, the solution to this problem is not to keep girls indoors but to make the outdoors – regardless of the time of day – safer for women.
3. S&M (Security and Management)
The whole issue can be summed up by asking one crucial question, “Why don’t you just update the law and order and security?”
Bringing about laws that govern the bars and pubs can, in turn, ensure safety to all (women too). Recently, the Mumbai police approved the creation of special entertainment zones in non-residential areas which means that eateries, pubs, clubs, medical shops and so on can remain open all night long as long as they are not in a residential area. This also makes sure that residents are not disturbed by any drunken disturbances of violence. However, these zones are still to be approved by the Government.
Police security around the city should be increased and police measures that find innovative ways to check these activities should be encouraged and supported by government legislation. You may hate the naaka bandis in the night around your city, but you can’t deny that they keep you from drinking and driving.
This can also include putting in place regulations for bars and nightclubs. It should be compulsory for them to have security personnel, CCTV cameras, anti-theft systems, etc.
When anything goes wrong and is connected to alcohol or metropolitan nightlife, the go-to blame falls on the ‘influence of western culture’. Petty and serious crimes get pushed onto the victim because “why was he drinking?”,”why were they out so late?”,”why was she dressed like that?”, etc.
However, a lot of urban nightlife in India is due to adopting the West’s corporate work lifestyle. People tend to go out and get a drink after a long day of work, something that is common in the Western world. If we’re reaping the economic benefits of this new urban India, we have to prepare for the social changes that come with it. Playing the blame game won’t stop the shift in India’s urban lifestyle. Instead, being prepared by using the examples of our more-developed counterparts in both economic and social may be beneficial.
5. Shut Up & Drive
Sure, there are all these things the government and society can do to make sure all the fun and games never stop, but some of the responsibility falls on the alcohol-drinking, publically-smoking party-goers too. The Indian Constitution gives us rights to life and liberty, freedom of speech and expression, privacy, etc. but we are also accountable to not disturb these same rights of our fellow citizens. If someone is drinking and driving, you’re infringing someone else’s right to life, if you’re drunkenly disturbing the peace, you might be infringing someone’s right to privacy.
Moral of the story? If you don’t want your lifestyle to be restricted, it’s important to make sure it isn’t a nuisance for the people around you.