Saturday, August 18, 2001
M A I L  B O X

A case for moderate drinking

THIS refers to "A case for moderate drinking" by Khushwant Singh (August 4). Drinking is never good, not even when done moderately. Simply because there was sporadic or widespread drinking in ancient times, one cannot say that it is not evil. Drinks and drugs are crutches which ultimately replace real limbs. Drinking is an escape from life and has deleterious effects on mind and morals besides body and pocket. The writer may not give up the vice as it is too late in the day for him, but he cannot lend it respectability.



It is not easy to agree with the writer that we can treat a topic like drinking in a light-hearted vein, for in fact, more often than not it turns out to be one of the most potent and dangerous destroyers of many happy and smiling families. One simply cansay that moderate drinking is harmless, for one does not even realise when moderate and harmless drinking turns into an incurable addiction. There is only a short distance between moderate drinking and alcoholism and that can be covered any time without even any conscious effort.

It is only a few lucky people who can manage to keep moderation in drinking for many years. Most people start drinking in moderation just for the heck of it, to be with the "in" crowd, only to find themselves hopelessly trapped in its clutches.

History is dotted with innumerable examples of estates, fortunes and kingdoms being squandered away under the impact of drinks. Then why even moderately tinker with a thing which we know very well can quietly acquire monstrous proportions? It is a sure shot road to hell on this very earth, even if the first few steps seem to be strewn with rose petals.



The writer has put forward an interesting theory that drinking in moderation creates social bonding. How far this is correct is a matter of debate.

Assuming for a while that the writer is right, it raises a question: How many people can resort to moderation in drinking? This is not as easy as it looks. Most people cannot resist the temptation of alcohol. Taken in moderation alcohol is not harmful. But it is also true that when alcohol is abused, the results are always devastating, not only for the abuser but for society at large.

How can one draw a line between moderation and excess in drinking? It is very difficult since people have different reactions to alcohol.

Alcoholism is not measured by the amount of alcohol consumed but rather by the way a person uses alcohol to deal with lifeís problems and the effect it has on his physical well being.



It was quite amusing a write-up on a very serious matter. For a self-disciplined and self-controlled person like the writer moderate drinking is truly health giving. But for ordinary people it is good for it to be a taboo as they are not as creative, productive and regulated as the writer. When it comes to drinking they donít do anything else. Their lives revolve around that alone. Then with their meagre income they are hardly able to make both ends meet and the miseries of their families increase manifold when they get hooked to this habit.



Drinking can never be justified. Grey-haired persons are the embodiment of wisdom and guidance and advice can be sought from them on various matters. The writer, being an elderly person and eminent writer, should not have chosen to write on drinking wine. This can mislead the young who are immature and are at an impressionable age.

There is no denying the fact that addiction to alcohol has ruined many families. The great poet Ghalib lived in penury due to his addiction to alcohol. One should not get addicted to liquor. One should save oneís savings for more deserving causes.


Writing poetry

In his write-up "Why write poetry"? Khushwant Singh has remarked that poetry "does not need great erudition to write it because it springs from the heart and not the brain".

Poetry is an elevated expression of lofty and powerful thoughts or feelings in rhythmical and metrical form. A poet may be endowed with great imaginative and creative powers, but he cannot write verses eruditely unless he has a wide and accurate knowledge of language, literature, etc. Only then can he acquire the skill of selecting beautiful works, well-turned phrases and graceful similes to express splendid ideas in a dignified language. In fact, the best poetry is not just "putting the best words in the best order, but the presenting of things in a way which pleases and stimulates the imagination". Can this be done without great erudition?

While the verses of those lacking great mental ability are just literary trash, the poetry of erudite poets perpetuates their names.


Evil of ragging

This refers to "A dangerous twist to a harmless practice" (July 28) by Khushwant Singh. The writer deserves appreciation for writing against various customs of the West that are being blindly aped by us. One of these customs is the practice of ragging, that has taken a dangerous form in our country. Once students enter a professional college after lot of hard work, they have to face the terror of ragging. Many victims of ragging suffer trauma and are maimed for life. The true spirit behind this practice is to make the newcomers familiar with the traditions of the institute to which they have come and to make them comfortable in their new environment. However, various unethical practices have made ragging unhealthy. The authorities of various institutions must curb this practice.