I happened to see a Medha Patkar pic on TOI's site today when looking for bomb blast news. She was in Bangalore yesterday, highlighting a gruesome murder of a member of the Alternative Law Forum that happened last week in Ramnagar: "Its state convener A T Babu was hacked to death at about 11.30 am on Monday by eight persons, right in front of two nuns whom he was driving to an anti-arrack programme in Ramanagaram."
The "liquor lobby" are the prime suspects.
I searched on the ALF site but couldn't find more details. Obviously the murderers should be brought to justice...
But I don't agree with the approach of the ALF towards this issue. Look at an older report concerning the deceased: "Karnataka Rajya Madyapana Virodhi Andolana Samiti, a voluntary organisation working against liquor consumption, has urged the State Government to implement the Excise Act in letter and spirit. Addressing a press conference here on Sunday, samiti president A.T. Babu said one could hardly expect the Government to impose a ban on liquor. It should at least enforce the excise laws strictly if it was concerned about the welfare of poor and oppressed class, he said. He said illegal liquor sale was on the rise thanks to nexus between politicians, officials and liquor traders.".
Anyone is perfectly justified in asking government implement a law in its full spirit. But we should be campaigning against having such a thing as "illegal liquor" in the law. The "poor and the oppressed" are consenting adults who choose to buy this liquor. Instead of changing their behaviour or providing safer alternatives, it's folly to use government to browbeat liquor producers. It's ironic that a "a voluntary organisation working against liquor consumption" is using force to achieve their ends.
This is the same ALF that bats for civil liberties in other cases, like the continued detention of Binayak Sen!
There is no political basis to ban people from supplying liquor to interested consumers. The usual justifications like not recognizing the notion of private property, wealth redistribution do not apply here. You are skating on the thin ice of negative externalities and imbalance of power. Further, it's obvious that externalities have not entered the debate here. And power imbalance is moot because the behaviour is consensual. Unless you believe in a natural right to live in a liquor-free society...
We should learn something from religion here: Millions of Indians don't eat non-veg, stay away from liquor etc. based on purely voluntary principles. Why are we now using government to reach these goals? That implies too much power has been vested in government, either in spirit or in effect.