No one died of non consumption of alcohol in Tamil Nadu since this March 25th. Not many make effective use of the rice rations in Tamil Nadu either. The subsidized/free provisions meant for the BPL families, distributed through our nationwide network of PDS (Public Distribution system) outlets are invariably sold in the black market to make a fast buck. Last heard, rural Tamil women use the 20 kg rice issue for cattle fodder.
India Lockdown 1 started by the midnight of March 25th for a period of 21 days. Lockdown 2 followed from/after April 14th. Lockdown 3 commenced on/after May 3rd and currently we are in Lockdown 4 that began on/after May 17th.
After every enforcement and release of a lockdown, certain restrictions have been lifted. This was to ensure that the return to normalcy could be seamless and smooth. In any case, Section 144 was imposed absolutely in the first phase that still saw the essential services such as food and health, banking etc., functioning. Public transport ceased in totality. Malls, restaurants, cinemas, educational institutions and places of worship remained closed. Farming, food deliveries, milk and grocery supplies and other crucial economic activities were permitted during lockdown 2. Lockdown 2 also eased restrictions on street hawkers who brought fruits and vegetables to doorsteps, as the general public continued to stay home. Lockdown 3 was a bit more relaxed with more services including those non essential resuming. Proprietors of small business were allowed to reopen. Air-conditioning to be switched off. Lockdown 3 also marked the country into 3 zones: Green, Orange and Red. Green zones were those that recorded no fresh Covid positive cases. Barring entry of outsiders, the zones were opened up completely. For instance, the Coimbatore district in Tamil Nadu fell under green zone. Even in the green zones, economic activities have been permitted with certain conditions strictly: Social distancing and donning a mask have been made mandatory.
Orange zones are moderate centers with minimal recorded corona virus cases. Risk factor here for covid 19 infection to become community spread is perceived to be very low. Selective economic activities have been reinstated in the zone, with total covid containment viewed as a near possible reality. The next move will be progression to green zone with all loopholes plugged. Kerala and Bangalore (where liquor bars have been doing booming or perhaps record business since day 1 of reopening) may fall under Orange zone. Even BBC and CNN got stumped with the mind boggling sales statistics in our third world nation liquor bars. Bangalore is not only the Silicon valley of India being the backoffice for the entire world, it also boasts of Asia’s largest pub and brewery. Bangalore’s pub culture is legendary.
Red zones are those that sustain yet virulent hotspots where areas are cordoned off to contain covid spread by the super-spreaders. Chennai is unfortunately still the red zone. In red zones, except for the barricaded localities, limited economic activity is permitted in other non-infected areas. Freelance semi-skilled blue collar workers such as electricians, plumbers, carpenters, masons etc., have since resumed working, adopting social distancing and mask wearing safety procedures.
However, downed shutters it is for liquor bars in red zones in lockdown 4. TASMAC outlets run by the Tamil Nadu state government , were about to be opened for want of funds. New kid in the block Kamal Hasan, the actor turned politician, obtained an injunction order from court that stayed the reopening of TASMAC in the state, much to the chagrin of a disgruntled state government. It is open secret that TASMAC is gold mine for our treasuries to dip into at their convenience. Along with Tamil Nadu Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments Board that governs Hindu temple managements alone syphoning off collections that can put the entire SAARC block to shame with their immense volumes. Interestingly, ‘the dry spell’ that has lasted for almost 60 days in the state (and mostly in entire India except for those metros like Mumbai and Bangalore) with the closure of TASMAC did not kill anyone – not even the so-called hardcore addicts. No expensive detox routines and spas. Nobody speaks of splitting headaches and withdrawal symptoms. House maids and such women workers in menial jobs married to wife-beating alcoholics wasting their entire day’s earning in TASMAC now gossip of husbands chopping vegetables and cooking rice and roti sharing domestic responsibilities. There has been a whole loss of one major earning in the family – the head of the family is at home. Anyways, corona or not, Tamil Nadu govt gives everything free: from rice to cash subsidies. If your kids attend corporation schools, mid day meal is free (with egg served thrice a week and banana too) for them, and also a laptop and a bicycle to go to school. Diwali and Pongal means freebies such as new clothes (sari and dhoti). Pregnant women, widows, the issueless poor – you name the destitute, they all get subsidies ranging from 1k to 1.5k every single month! Why should anyone work for an honest living.
(The last but not the least spoiler is the MNREGA, the minimum employment guarantee scheme introduced by Sonia Gandhi’s Congress govt that assures a daily average wage of Rs.90/- for minimum 100 days an year, whether or not you work or laze around. All you have to do is, fix your thumb impression. Agriculture is in doldrums in the state as the marginal and small farmers do not have it in them anymore to engage in productive farm activity. Why should they. And then the shameless Tamils have the audacity to complain that the Bihari and Bengali are stealing their jobs! The north Indian labourers from Jharkhand, Bihar, Chattisgarh, the north easterners from the 7 sister states such as Assamese etc., and the Nepali are our lifeline really. But for them, the south India and especially Tamil Nadu and more particularly Chennai will come to a grinding halt overnight. It is easy to dismiss the migrant labourers as ‘panipuri wale’ as we would like to. But no, they are here to stay. They work our restaurants to our rice mills and our textile units and factories to small scale industries. They are our technicians and our pizza delivery men. Boy, don’t they learn Tamil quick! So where is the Tamil worker? At TASMAC 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 4 weeks a month, 12 months an year. No wonder our government is dying to open up the state run liquor outlets (what a state business to have. have you come across any government running liquor chain) to fill the emptied coffers overnight.
Who says India is a third world nation.
Is MNREGA a curse or a blessing? In case of Tamil Nadu, Kerala, etc., at least, there seems no justification for the scheme to continue.
PDS ration shops have to go in the metros for the starters. The worst fallout from PDS to me is, the making of a lazy society who have no shame living on welfare. Pointless queues are the only spot where the blue collar population of Tamil Nadu may appear brusque. The rations are up for the grabs of black marketeers. Why not an equivalent subsidy in the place of PDS rations, as with the case of LPG refills. Govt can rethink on the issue. It is true, in times of emergencies such as even the present Novel coronavirus pandemic, the PDS proves to be an effective way of transferring rations/utilities. If PDS has to go, government has to devise a secondary means of functional mass/public distribution of provisions should situation present itself.
TASMAC however has no such strings attached like the PDS or MNREGA. TASMAC closure can be made permanent. When some state governments such as Gujarat have had prohibitions for decades with a roaring success, why cannot Tamil Nadu follow suit. Kerala government too as such is raring to open the liquor outlets vying with Tamil Nadu.
Coronavirus is bad news to rest of the world. To some communities however, it is a blessing in disguise. Husbands and wives and the children and the helpless aged parents are for a very first time in our living memory, finally happy. With very minimum or almost nil income, there is still so much to smile and hope for in the BPL rungs of our society. No drunken brawls in the bars and in the streets, no wife beating, no abusing the kids…. we have precious harmony in families that used to be torn apart by ugly spats every single day of their lives. And what it did take for such a peaceful heaven to descend on us is the Novel coronavirus pandemic – the Covid 19 scare, and the ensuing back-to-back lockdowns. But more than anything, it is the closure of TASMAC that is working wonders for our lower middle classes who have been through hell, with hopeless alcoholics for head of the family. Or, it can be like this. Let TASMAC sell liquor on Aadhar basis. Those of the denizens who can afford TASMAC must not be entitled to any government sops. No more PDS rations either. Does our government have the nerve and honesty to go about this exercise free and fair. Because, none of us tax paying citizens would want to foot the bill for state subsidies and rations to families who can afford TASMAC.
TASMAC online! Now what is this! Such a creepy thing, is all I can say.
Undeniably, Indian economy is having it rough. There is massive unemployment surge, cash crunch, revenues strapped treasury in the case of state-central governments, crimes happening, migrant matters, natural woes and calamities, defence issues, etc., etc. This is on top of Covid 19 scare. Is TASMAC panacea to all that has gone wrong.
Thank you guys for going nicotine-free during the lockdowns, maintain status quo. Cigarette smoke is reportedly a very potent corona carrier.
Finally, free our temples from the clutches of state governments that rob us of our legitimate collections that must benefit the Hindu community. When the church and the masjid that are on conversion spree flush with NGO and hawala fundings from overseas remain autonomous, why are Hindu temple revenues channeled to government treasury.
A small beginning is made: