Swami Agnivesh to launch campaign against alcoholism

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Swami Agnivesh
Dehradun, April 23: Swami Agnivesh, social activist termed alcoholism as the root cause of the recent spate of crimes against women and said he will launch a nationwide campaign, in May, to eliminate the evil.

On May 1, the first phase of the campaign will be launched from Basana town near Raipur in Chhattisgarh where the World Council of Arya Samaj emancipated 4,000 bonded labourers 25 years ago, Swami Agnivesh told reporters. The second phase of the movement will be launched from Jai Prakash Narain's birthplace at Sitabdiara in Bihar from May 7.

He feels that the real cause of growing crime against women arises from alcoholism and therefore, noted that hanging the culprits of the Delhi gangrape incident or removal of a few police officials would not help the situation."Ever since the Delhi gangrape incident occurred in December last year and the rape of a five-year-old girl in the capital earlier this month, people have been clamouring for execution of the culprits or suspension of a few police officials but this is not going to lead to an improvement in the situation. What we need to do is strike the very root of the problem which lies in alcoholism," Agnivesh said.

Accusing the state governments and the Centre of reducing liquor prices, he said they were doing a great disservice to the nation by doing so. He called for a total ban on liquor, saying, "We have to save the younger generation from falling into the trap of liquor and drug consumption to build a society in accordance with the vision of our freedom movement leaders like Mahatma Gandhi. But the state governments are vying with each other to lower the rates of liquor to encourage drinking in society." It is time for a spiritual and moral regeneration which can be achieved only through a revival of values that guided the country's freedom movement, he said.

Similar campaigns will be launched soon in Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand, he said, adding that the World Council of Arya Samaj will endeavour to make it a countrywide movement gradually by associating the campaign with the Dalai Lama, Maulana Wahiduddin and other eminent religious leaders.

The social activist said they should make efforts to save the younger generation from the consumerist culture of which alcoholism is an offshoot. He pointed out that 'cheapening' of liquor by states was violation of Article 47 of the Constitution which seeks to enforce total prohibition, he said, "Either burn down the Constitution you swear by or follow it in its letter and spirit."

Rubbishing the argument that prohibition on liquor will block a major source of revenue generation he said there could be alternatives and positive ways of revenue generation than encouraging liquor consumption. Citing an example, Agnivesh said he had demanded total prohibition in Haryana during Devi Lal's tenure as chief minister. The state government opposed the proposition saying it will block a vital source of revenue. "Amid continuing impasse, I approached the then Prime Minister Morarji Desai who came up with the idea of the Centre compensating for 50 per cent of revenue losses that the state might incur on account of prohibiting liquor consumption," Agnivesh said.


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