Friday, 6 February 2009

Pub Culture

Swami Gulagulaananda said:
"If I am a chain smoker and you are one, and I ask you to quit smoking saying that smoking causes cancer, you should be verifying if what I said is true or false, and then if true, quit smoking for your own good instead of telling me to mind my business as I smoke myself. The advice is for your own good, and you are the one who will suffer, irrespective of whether I suffer or not. We should be looking into the truth of the matter. "

The recent attacks in pubs by the Sri Rama Sene (SRS) in Mangalore has definitely sparked a series of comments by different people at all levels - from the youth to Minister(s). However I noticed that the types of remarks being made by the people who are complaining is totally confusing in most cases, irrelevant in some and seriously flawed in a majority of the arguments.

Let's just have a look at some of the arguments and try to look at it in a completely unbiased manner. For some time, forget which side you are on. Just look at the entire argument in an objective manner, and ask yourself what you think from your heart. Let's begin.

One of the main reasons people were anti-pub culture is because they said that it promotes drinking or alcoholism. Now, to this, one of the first few statements you get from the people on the other side is - "It's our life, we will lead it our way. We don't need anyone giving us advice on the way we live. India is a democratic country. I will live this way, screw it up if I wish to. I don't interfere in your life and you don't butt into mine." This may sound really 'Oh-so-true' to most of us. However, when we look at the situation in an unbiased manner, we should agree that drinking is indeed in reality a problem. The problems due to drinking are not only direct but also indirect. We shall see them quite soon, but before that, the people who say that it's their life and it's upto them to screw it up or otherwise need to first verify the veracity of the statement - "Drinking is bad and will hurt you". It may be your life and nobody is denying that, but you should also learn to admit that drinking is bad. If you don't agree, then you can look up the internet for the ill effects of alcohol.

Now that we understand and agree that alcohol is bad, immediately step in the social drinkers. Come on now, alcohol poses trouble to habitual drinkers, and those who get sloshed or wasted. We are those who go to pubs for a couple of pegs, that shouldn't hurt anyone including my liver. I don't see the big fuss. Well, I thought that this argument is quite correct. What will a couple of pegs do? Then when I was talking to some of my friends who drink, they told me that alcohol had different effects on each of them. One of them got a high or a kick or whatever you call it - the dizzy feeling from just one glass while upto four or five didn't affect the rest. From this and from another article in Times of India which said that the alcohol absorption in different people is different depending on their body structure, and how fat they were etc. means that the same amount of alcohol does not have the same effect on different people. While some get a high from a small quantity, others may get a high only after substantial drinking. Therefore who decides what quantity is social drinking and what is getting sloshed? If the answer is "US" then forget it - We have seen how responsible we are while following ordinary traffic rules. Let's face it, we don't have the responsibility to be judging how much is enough. Therefore, since we are not able to quantify what amount is too much (due to its non uniformity) we just have to take worst case scenario that alcohol affects the mind independent of quantity. So social drinking doesn't really have much bearing.

Then there are others who said that the police are not doing anything. They also said that the government should be focussing on providing better roads instead of focussing on such issues. There was another argument which said that the policemen or members of SRS themselves might be drunk. These are absurd arguments. First of all, whether there are good or bad roads, it still doesn't absolve the drinkers. Drinking is bad, whether the police do it, or SRS members do it or a celebrity does it. And that is independent of roads or any other developmental work. We should not forget to appreciate the policemen who are the first people to die when a terror attack such as the ones that happened in Mumbai comes up. When they are willing to sacrifice their lives for us, they are doing this also for a good cause - for our cause. The reasons are below.

If you get drunk by yourself, roll over and die due to some liver problems, I don't think anyone would have had any problems or issues with that. The problem arises when you get drunk and then go kill someone. We have seen several cases including famous actors who get drunk and run over people sleeping on the footpath. Let's accept it - It was alcohol that caused the bad judgement. And if you say that these are sporadic stray incidents, then I can only say that you are extremely insensitive. The incident is sporadic as long as it doesn't affect you. When a drunk runs over you or your family member you will understand. Drinking and driving, as one of my friends said, are harmless independently.

However that seldom happens. Pubs are not next to your houses. You have to go there and get back. If the concept of designated drivers was really that wide spread, perhaps drunken driving would have dropped a lot. But that's not true. And in reality things don't work quite like that. Nobody wants to be left out. All want to get sloshed. And then someone completely not related to them will get squished.
Blaming the police is simple. The police put up bans on the "Night life" in Bangalore, saying that you cannot have a pub open beyond 11 pm. That, according to me is a reasonable restriction. It's been put up for our own safety. Drunken driving as such is bad, and late at night, with drunks doing drag races and speeding, things get worse ten times over. The problem is that they just don't stop at killing themselves, but kill innocent people. The other problem with drinking is that they lose control over the mind, and end up molesting women. Unfortunately women wear skimpy clothes in pubs, which arouses the drunks even more. Now women may say - "Hey, it's my life, I will wear skimpy or fully covering clothes, I don't need any advice. My body, I will flaunt it." True, your body. But when a drunk gets physical, and the clothes adding fuel to their lust, they obviously resort to immoral activities. Now perhaps in Utopia skimpy clothes don't attract the wolves. In real life, it does. That's also a fact. And when it gets darker, the number of people on the streets is really low, and you are at a bigger risk than usual. It's nice to give a speech on woman empowerment, but when it all boils down to reality, you are still vulnerable. Ideally you shouldn't. But you are. And you again blame to police for not keeping the city clean. How many policemen are there? Is it really possible to comb every street of huge cities to see if there is a crime? Perhaps only Batman and Superman arrive at the right place at the right time, but it is not possible for police to be there everywhere. Therefore, it becomes our responsibility to take care of ourselves. The ban on keeping pubs open beyond 11 pm thus serves as a check on such crimes being committed.

The arguments will immediately pop up - what about molestation cases that happen before 11pm in broad daylight? Nobody denies that. But we have to take statistical and probabilistic approaches. It has been found that such cases, and drunken accidents occur more often than normal cases. Accidents happen when you are sober too. But the chance of your meeting with an accident when you are drunk is more. Therefore we should be looking at the broader picture. It's easy to blame police for curbing drinking beyond a certain time. It's also easy to blame them for not being there to protect you. But I think we need to stop thinking of it from our view points, and look at it from above. A 360 degree approach is more necessary.

Beating up people in pubs may not be the right solution. But simple education doesn't seem to work. There are people who say practice before you preach. Well, if I am a chain smoker and you are one, and I ask you to quit smoking saying that smoking causes cancer, you should be verifying if what I said is true or false, and then if true, quit smoking for your own good instead of telling me to mind my business as I smoke myself. The advice is for your own good, and you are the one who will suffer, irrespective of whether I suffer or not. We should be looking into the truth of the matter.

11 comments:

Kavya said...

Ah, here we go again :)

I agree with most of what you say. However, we do need to realise that SRS didn't do the best job trying to beat people up.

Measures like, having at least one sober person for each mode of transport, for the customers of a pub, would make more sense, because we are definitely not going to get away with banning pubs.

If drinking as a social evil needs to be countered objectively, we need to spread our focus and not get fixated on pubs.There are so many cases of physical abuse where a person's drunk in his own home.

The bottom line is, alcohol's effects can't be overcome by abusing (under the name of 'moral policing' ).

Andy said...

I completely agree about stuff that you have said about the ill effects of Boozing. I would not call it drinking. According to me drinking is something under limits.

Are you in support with what SRS did? Yes or No?

Now if the SRS guys did this only for the drinking issue and then why dont they attack the roadside shops?

You know what I feel- The SRS people are feeling out of sorts amidst these youngsters thats the reason for the attacks.

Nik said...

I am totally against the violent actions of the SRS.

And this is one of the arguments that I don't agree with you. Roadside shops ALSO sell liquor. They may or may not have been trashed. Pub culture doesn't simply promote alcoholism. It's known to be a centre of drug trade, and illicit activities such as flesh trade as well. This has come on TV. Thus, pubs are bigger villains, compared to ordinary roadside liquor stores.

Aditya Padaki said...

I agree to what u've written. But there is a bit more into it. SRS or any other organisation did not go on a rampage to stop drinking. As it appears, they are least bothered about drinking.

Drinking Does not happen only in pubs. It happens all over the place. They were against the "pub culture" which they claim is against traditional Indian culture and they're against anything which they see as against our "culture and tradition". Moreover, they targetted only women in the pub. What does that mean? If men do all those is it ok?

Those organisations are owned and run by hooligans funded and patronised by the dirty politicians which no one can deny. My point is, please clearly demarkate and understand between Moral Policing and Drinking (And Health Issues).

They vandalise places on various days and may be even valentine's day coming in the near future in the name of "culture" and they're least concerned about the health and safety of people, for celebrating valentine's day is not at all bad for health.

Bottomline: Completely oppose drinking and other hazardous activities. But never in the name of culture and tradition. The acts performed by such ruthless demons in the name of religion and culture lead to communal and racial polarisation which is by far, the greatest threat to the concept of India.

Andy said...

Now i would say, its better to put more efforts towards putting an end to such illegal activities than stop pub culture. I believe that 'Pub culture' doesnt have anything to do with stuff like that. Activities like that do happen in the outside world also and not only pubs. So its better to work against such activities rather than attacking pubs.

They are attacking pubs cos stuff like boozing, its ill effects happen. Why dont they stress the govt in stop supplying drinks? Its not being done as it generates a lot of revenue. They should force the govt to have stringent rules and track drug trade.

They've attacked on pubs just because illegal activities are going on. The consequence is not ending the activity. In fact it starts breeding in new places other than pubs.

Nik said...

Somehow, some people like Aditya don't seem to understand that when women were beaten for drinking, it does not mean that it is ok for men to be drinking. It means that it is not ok for women to be drinking. I would like to reiterate the fact that I am against violence, and that things could perhaps have been handled in a better way.

However, a reality check - Men were beaten up too, if that makes women supporters feel any better :-) What I am trying to say here is, if you have a look at the videos that were shown in a news channel called "News 9" showed certain lewd dances. I think we are better off without such things.

It's not really anything to do with religion. But I believe it's something to do with culture and morality. You can better understand my views if you see how character becomes loose there. This may sound like an arm-chair discussion because I don't think we are really that well versed with the realities and depths of this. We are small fries.

I agree with Anil, the Govt should have been banning alcohol, and they are not, because this is a huge source of revenue. And where there is a lot of money involved, bribery becomes rampant. And things become difficult to touch.

Like I have told before, a lot of people argue saying this was not banned, this was not touched, does this mean that doing this is alright? Not necessarily!! However, it still doesn't absolve the pubs.

Putting a complete stop to these activities is really far from possible. Prostitution is one of the oldest issues, and is still present in every country. However it is possible to keep check on it. Similarly, controlling activities in pubs is a very viable solution. Nobody says completely eliminate the pub culture, however, we need to keep check on it. They will definitely move to another location, but it keeps becoming more and more difficult for them to quickly to grow back to the size, if you keep limiting their growth rate.

I am not defending the acts of Sri Rama Sene. But I still agree with their view points that Pub culture is a severe blow to our morality and culture. Of all the things we could have picked from the west including development and being more lawful and having a faster justice system, we pick this! Ironic.

Andy said...

I just want to know What do you mean by 'Our morality and our culture'.
On Feb 14th if the SRS catches me with someone and gives lecture regarding following our culture, I would probably blast him. Lets have Sati, Dowry, Child marriage, Casteism back and follow them. If u want to follow a culture, do it completely. Why only partial things?

Nik said...

Haha again, you get me wrong. Catching you with someone on Valentines day and giving you a lecture clearly is wrong. We should be able to clearly demarcate using logic and not resort to thinking in archaic ways.

Sati, dowry, casteism and child marriages are not part of our culture as many mistake. See, there is a difference between culture and customs, practices. Casteism, sati, dowry and child marriages are all wrong, and they are part of the practices. That's not truly part of our culture. You may think I am talking something nonsensical, or that I am hair-splitting. I am not.

The fact is that most of us don't understand our culture and religion fully. We only know a part of it. And we like to think we understand it fully. How many of us don't have our Brahmopadesham ceremonies done? How many of us truly understand that or the Gayatri mantra? We are too ill-informed to be understand the complexities of our culture. I am sure if you delve a little deeper you will fully understand at what level of culture I am talking about.

There are always subtle differences. Holding hands is acceptable, but smooching in public is not. Why? Isn't India democratic and free? It is. But, we should learn to be within bounds... Who decides the bounds? Who decides what is moral and what is not? That is why I am saying instead of all the time branding morality and culture, let's learn to look at things with more common sense and logic. If something has ill effects on an individual or groups of people, then that act should be prevented or banned. We should be able to exercise restraints on ourselves by using common sense and logic. That is what I mean by morality and culture. Culture is nothing but the common sense and logic rolled and packed into one. That which has been passed from generations. You got it confused with practises.

Andy said...

I clearly agree that sati and others were a part of the practices. Weren't the practices a part of our culture??? Our culture involved these mistakes too... They might be flaws but still they were a part of our culture.

Karthik said...

The Mangalore pub attack became popular because women were beaten up, and because the claim was that they were doing something against the "Indian culture". Drinking, alcoholism, are all the things that came up as a defense. They aren't even an issue if you are talking about the pub attack.

And please, for God's sake, let's all stop saying "Pub culture"! I mean, what the hell is "Pub culture"!? People sit around in a pub all day and drinking, that's pub culture? Hilarious words people come up with.

And finally, drinking has always been there in the world, its not something we invented from the west. Now, I am completely ignorant about some of these things purely because I dont give two damns, but what was bhaang, what was soma, what is dancing around during holi with bhaang? I am digressing here, so I'll stop saying this - the issue was about men beating women up. Not about drinking. It was about them wearing skimpy clothes, but they didnt beat them up to protect them from drunkards, did they?

I shall see no replies and make no replies. There has been enough said about this, and Muthalik has probably gained more power than he should have because of this.

Karthik said...

The Mangalore pub attack became popular because women were beaten up, and because the claim was that they were doing something against the "Indian culture". Drinking, alcoholism, are all the things that came up as a defense. They aren't even an issue if you are talking about the pub attack.

And please, for God's sake, let's all stop saying "Pub culture"! I mean, what the hell is "Pub culture"!? People sit around in a pub all day and drinking, that's pub culture? Hilarious words people come up with.

And finally, drinking has always been there in the world, its not something we invented from the west. Now, I am completely ignorant about some of these things purely because I dont give two damns, but what was bhaang, what was soma, what is dancing around during holi with bhaang? I am digressing here, so I'll stop saying this - the issue was about men beating women up. Not about drinking. It was about them wearing skimpy clothes, but they didnt beat them up to protect them from drunkards, did they?

I shall see no replies and make no replies. There has been enough said about this, and Muthalik has probably gained more power than he should have because of this.