Mahatma Gandhi would have resorted to satyagraha against pubs
By Justice (Retd) Dr M Rama Jois
If Ram Sainiks honestly believed that going of boys and girls to pubs resulted in their moral and material abandonment, which is injurious to national interest, the method of opposing it should have been in conformity with the approved moral and civilised behaviour. Their indulging in indecent and violent attack against pub-goers including women is condemnable and constitutes an offence punishable.
The recent physical and spoken assault on women going to pubs in Mangalore by those calling themselves Sri Ram Sainiks has been highly unjust and indecent and has very rightly come in for severe condemnations far and wide in the country. This is the evidence of sanctity attached to womanhood and the highest esteem in which the women are held in Bharatiya culture. As defined in Times of India (31-1-09), pub culture decoded the term stands for women drinking and socialising with men in public places, the desire behind this is obviously carnal between males and females who are not husband and wife. If Ram Sainiks honestly believed that going of boys and girls to pubs resulted in their moral and material abandonment, which is injurious to national interest, the method of opposing it should have been in conformity with the approved moral and civilised behaviour. Their indulging in indecent and violent attack against pub-goers including women is condemnable and constitutes an offence punishable. The Government of Karnataka has rightly arrested them and initiated criminal proceedings against them.
It is for this reason, Mahatma Gandhi declared that the means through which an end is to be achieved should be just and fair. It is on this principle, Mahatma Gandhi adopted the path of non-violence in the freedom struggle against unjust foreign rule. It is because he succeeded in this unique method adopted in human history, he became Mahatma and came to be respected by the whole world in view of the great faith Mahatma Gandhi had in non-violent methods. The firm belief of Mahatma Gandhi in morality and good character is evidenced by the firm stand he had taken against consumption of intoxicated liquors. In his book entitled My Picture of Free India written on the eve of achieving political independence, he unequivocally declared as follows:-
"I hold drinking spirituous liquors in India to be more criminal than the petty thefts which I see starving men and women committing and for which they are prosecuted and punished… I advocate the summary punishment of those who manufacture the fiery liquid and those even who persist in drinking it notwithstanding repeated warnings. I do not hesitate forcibly to prevent my children from rushing into fire or deep waters. Rushing to red water is far more dangerous than rushing to a raging furnace or flooded stream. The latter destroys only the body, the former destroys both body and soul."
This view of Mahatma Gandhi indicates that he was very firm on preventing youths falling into the injurious habit of consumption of intoxicating liquors or drugs. By and large youths go to pubs to satisfy their sensual desires without realising that it is sure to result in moral and material abandonment and they will become unfit to bear the family or social responsibilities. Therefore, it is not correct to call it pub culture, as it is a vice and not a virtue. It is therefore clear that if Mahatma Gandhi were to be alive, he would have resorted to satyagraha in protest against youths going to pubs but in a peaceful and civilised manner as it is well known that as part of struggle for freedom, Mahatma Gandhi had directed Congressmen to boycott liquor shops and even resort to picketing liquor shops. In view of this forceful idea of Mahatma Gandhi, Article 47 was incorporated in the Constitution directing the Union and the States to make law prohibiting the manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquors.
Moreover, Article 39(c) mandates the Union and the States to take necessary steps to protect children and youth against their moral and material abandonment. In accordance with the views of Mahatma Gandhi and the directive of Article 47, law prohibiting manufacture and sale of intoxicating liquor was enacted in Karnataka after independence. It was in force till 1957.
The Congress Party which claims to be the followers of Mahatma Gandhi repealed the law prohibiting manufacture and sale of liquors in 1957 in Karnataka. Smt. Yashodharamma Dasappa, a true Gandhian and brave woman, resigned her ministership protesting against such a step. In spite of this, loyalty to liquor proved to be more powerful than to Mahatma Gandhi and the Constitution. Liquor shops are permitted to be opened in all commercial as well as residential localities like hotels and restaurants. It is significant and surprising that large number of liquor shops are allowed on Mahatma Gandhi Road and its vicinity. Pubs belong to the same category. Developing the habit of going to pubs by youth is sure to result in their moral and material abandonment. Under the Constitution, the State has been under a duty to ensure protection against such moral and material abandonment.
I am certain that if Mahatma Gandhi were to be alive, he would have launched a powerful satyagraha and picketing against pubs. If Sri Ram Sainiks honestly felt so and wanted to protest it to protect youths in national interest, they should have resorted to non-violent satyagraha and picketing. But instead of doing so, the indecent attack made on women is most condemnable and onslaught on the most cherished value of womanhood in our culture. Such a situation is the direct result of failure to implement Articles 47 and 39 of the Constitution. The wide and expanding pub activities and the importance attached to sensual desires by large number of youths indicate what Swami Vivekananda stated a century ago, which has become true. He had said:
"Shall India die? Then from the world all spirituality will be extinct, all moral perfection will be extinct, all sweet-souled sympathy for religion will be extinct, all ideality will be extinct, and in its place will reign the duality of lust and luxury as the male and female deities, with money as its priest fraud, force and competition as its ceremonies, and the human soul as its sacrifice."
The situation is alarming. Substantial number of youths are falling to bad and immoral carnal desires resulting in their moral and material abandonment, which is highly injurious to the future of our nation, because youths are inflammable material like petrol, if enlightened and regulated they constitute enormous source of energy for the nation, but if ignited, they would be disastrous like forest fire. This is a matter for serious consideration by all right-thinking persons.
(The writer is a Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), former Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court and former Governor of Jharkhand and Bihar. He can be contacted at "Sri. Shaila", No. 870/C, 5th Block, Rajajinagar, Bangalore–560 010.)