CHENNAI: What does Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Swachh Bharat campaign have to do with an association of tipplers? “Give us pre-mixed bottles of booze and we can eliminate waste from water packets and plastic cups,” says Chellapandian Selvam, chief of the Madhu Kudippore Vilippunarvu Sangam (Liquor Consumers Awareness Association).
“We risk our lives and drink to contribute to the economy. What we want is something in return,” he says. The association, which was registered officially last month but has been around in some form since 2010, has demands that would bring tears to the eyes of politicians calling for total prohibition.
One per cent of TASMAC income should go to the kin of those who die due to alcohol consumption (Going by TASMAC income, that’s about `200 crore a year); Tipplers should get insurance; they have to be given separate vehicle plates and ‘id cards’; proper billing at all outlets, medicine at subsidised rates - the list goes on.
When told that drunken driving is in fact illegal, he says, “What’s the use in catching us while the people selling it go scot-free? Besides, if we have different-coloured vehicle plates, normal drivers would notice it and can take precautions.”
He also says that only people who don’t drink should be given government jobs - otherwise officials tend to take bribes to feed their liquor habits. The association is also promoting awareness about eating guava, which Chellapandian claims reduces the urge to consume alcohol. They also tell drinkers to wear ‘touser’ model underwear while going to work. Apparently, this preserves their dignity when they are really drunk. The association wants separate wards for tipplers in hospitals and wants doctors to dedicate a year of service to TASMAC outlets in rural areas.
“Our ultimate aim is to make it a liquor-free State, but prohibition is not the way,” claims Chellapandian, who throws in impressive terms like WHO, Food Safety and Standards Authority of India norms and others while speaking.