Out of spirits in Delhi

| Updated on May 08, 2020 Published on May 08, 2020

A Delhi resident sulks after being penalised for doing her patriotic duty of helping the economy

Dear Editor,

It’s a dark day for Delhi. I don’t mean the skies are overcast, or the power grids have tripped. It’s a dark day because the Delhi government is punishing its citizens for their eagerness to be in good spirits. Chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s decision to impose a 70 per cent Corona tax on every purchase of alcohol is the unkindest nail on a citizen’s coffin. Corona has already laid out many coffins — for Achhe Din, jobs, industries, destination wedding plans, family planning (due to extended lockdown) and so on. With this new tax on alcohol, the government has elevated itself to the role of an undertaker. As an aggrieved party, I condemn this unjust taxation of people who have been squeezed dry by a virus that, apparently, can be destroyed by handwash!

When the news of liquor shops reopening reached my ears on Sunday, May 3, I was holding a cup of questionable Darjeeling tea in my hands. The fine China (the cup, the cup!) shook with excitement as I brushed tears off my cheeks and ran up the stairs to share the happy tidings with my 78-year-old mother. She and I have been in low spirits since the lockdown was announced. We didn’t get enough time to stock up on alcohol, thanks to the wide window of four hours the honourable prime minister granted the country. Our household had to choose between bottles of tequila and mustard oil. And we went for the latter, because we even fry our eggs and sausages in it.

A month passed by without a drink, which, just like the lockdown that refuses to go, has no precedence in the history of the Chatterjees from Chittagong (now settled in Chittaranjan Park). We survived on drops stuck to the necks of whisky bottles, and the hope that Google would soon tell us how to extract alcohol from the barrels of hand sanitisers we had acquired on war footing.

The deflating balloon of India’s “solid” economy finally evoked some emotions in the heart of our political leaders — towards one of the most underrated and misunderstood virtues of alcohol appreciation. In order to channel some funds to the anaemic coffers, state governments decided to reopen alcohol shops across the country. Patrons responded with patriotic fervour by queuing up outside designated shops. The volume of business on the first day itself was so overwhelming that the government, now committed to social distancing, reciprocated by imposing the high tax on us. This is not how we should be rewarded for being dutiful towards the Exchequer, that too at the risk of our health and safety.

I am, however, willing to give Kejriwal a chance to redeem himself. The tax slab should come with benefits for the taxpayer — home delivery, for instance. If that seems too ambitious (now that the hungry and betrayed Chhotus have returned to their villages), we can at least consider special queues (if not discounts) for senior citizens and women at the liquor shops. We also need an air-conditioned feeder service from our homes to these shops (given that Driver Bhaiyya has also walked back to his village).

The government should also consider extending alcohol services to our petrol pumps. Now that both diesel and petrol have become even more expensive in Delhi, we could do with some liquid support while watching the meter at the time of refuelling.

Last but not the least, we all know the importance of liquidity in a healthy economy. We, too, are committed to the government’s well-being. We will keep buying the liquids — oil and liquor. But is it too much to expect some karuna from our leaders in the times of Corona?


Dispirited Delhiite

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Published on May 08, 2020
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