Saturday evening and I was on a bumpy ride to my ancestral home in the monsoon kissed rural Kerala. In a sudden twist of mood I had decided to travel by bus – Kerala State Transport’s big red & yellow boxes and guess what it was not a starting stop-to-last stop travel; I ended up changing 4 buses and none of them were boarded wrongly (inspite of my poor Malayalam reading skills.)
Well this is not about the bus changes, monsoon, bumpy roads or even my travel. This is about a scene. Yes, a scene that I was witness to on my last bus stop (from where I eventually took an auto, too bored to board another bus.) Coming back to the scene – the location was a cracked cement veranda, the characters were the locals and the director was…I guess the culture, practise whatever you call it.
Now this place had enough people for the audience poll of KBC dwiteya or even triteya and I nearly dismissed the gathering as a political meeting except for one confusion - everyone stood facing in the same direction and there seemed to be a formation of some sort – a bunched zigzagging structure. That got me really interested and I wanted to locate the starting point of this thing and counted head to head to realize – It was a line – a scattered, twisting turning line and it ended, no I guess started, at a shop. A wooden shuttered shady looking shop. Again with my minimum mallu reading skills I read – Charayam – Liquor!!
Thunder bolts (mental ones, ofcourse) hit me.
Blot I: 5 ‘o’ clock on a Saturday evening and I find 40 odd people lined up peacefully and patiently to buy alcohol!
Bolt II: While searching for the start of that line, my eyes must have scanned over atleast 4 faces, which were hardly old enough to even have some facial hair!
A vague thought crossed my mind in that very moment - our government is busy rising the legal drinking age so that the youth of this country do not have legal access to spirit till age 25. But in a country where 14 year olds or even lesser ones have access to it when the age limit is 18 for beer and 21 for spirits, will the change in that number change anything at all?
The law makers forget that the very same age limit, of 18 years, has been defined in the law books of the government itself as ‘Major’ - an age when citizens can be trusted – with voting in the political future of the country (voting eligibility), with the security of the nation (armed forces employment eligibility), with financial decisions (self bank account eligibility), with marriage & children (marriage eligibility) and with even heavy weight four wheelers on the most crowded of the roads (driving license eligibility.) The law people are of the opnion that the same people who can handle democracy, guns, trucks, money, families etc legally cannot handle spirit legally. Do they have a plan in place if 18+ junta chooses to handle sprit, illegally?
My 76-year-old grandmother says young minds are like springs – the more you press them down, the higher they pop up. Wish atleast some amongst the lawmakers had such clarity and understanding of what they are dealing with. They forget that Adam too was young when he bit into that forbidden fruit up in heaven and he ate it because he was asked not to do so. Forbid the young & they will go after it – Alcohol, porn, affairs, premarital sex – you name it; convince them - things stand way much better. So if the government can trust the young with all the responsibilities of life at 18, please do not insult them with laws that question their maturity.
Mr. Lawmaker please think, and think logically, that in a country where rules are made to be broken and where government officials specially are gold medallists in breaking those rules what makes you believe that the generation that has grown up looking upon you will not break those rules! After all young minds learn by seeing – so to start with – atleast a few of you can stop breaking the existing rules before making new ones and focus on better governance based on better education and better living conditions rather then deciding for citizens who are already empowered by law and mind to decide. Drinking citizens or teetotaler citizens - the country needs growth and that will happen when we start focusing on progression issues than on money minting issues.
So Mr. Lawmaker basically ‘First Think, Then ink (the laws).’