Mizo’s and Drinking
In the Olden days of Mizo Society before advent of Christianity, Housewives used to brew rice-beer with the biggest beer-pots available and made sure that there would be no shortage of Zu when the hunters returned from their hunt. Usually they used to have lots of meat and rice –beer better known as Zu with lots of merry making during the festival times.
With the coming of Christianity in Mizoram in 1894, the missionaries through their good work converted most of the Mizo’s within a few years, With the new religion, many of the missionaries found the habit of getting drunk and festivities did not go in line with the new Christian tradition, hence they were forbidden to drink alcohol and leave behind all their pagan & animistic practices to lead a more pious life.
Origins of Prohibition
After the signing of agreement for peace accord between MNF & Indian Government, society gradually changed with increased drinking patterns, unemployment, rapid economic change and urbanization lead to increased crimes. Many of the Mizo people found it hard to adjust to the rapid change in society from bamboo age to the modern age. Many localities found it hard to deal with the drunken brawls and had even made small cages where drunk people were caged. In order to restrict petty crimes, family violence and bring stability to society, Prohibition was advocated by the society & Church.
Prohibition & the Church
During the early 1900s as a general sense of need for prohibitionion arose, many Christians denominations, particularly the Protestants Churches like the Presbyterians, Baptist and Seventh day Adventist advocated for legislative curbing of the alcohol menace by means of Liquor Prohibition act. They felt that having an effective legislation against drinking Liquor would maintain stability, family peace & togetherness within family and local community. Also, below are some of the Biblical reasons for Prohibition:
- The Bible warns that alcohol can hinder moral discretion. Proverbs 31:4-5 warns kings and rulers that they might "forget what is decreed, and pervert the rights of all the afflicted.
- Christians should make a public statement against drunkenness because of the negative consequences it can have on individuals, families, and society as a whole.
It is the duty of the Church to promote abstinence against drinking liquor, taking tobacco products which could effect moral life of it's church members.
Prohibition and YMA
Prohibition in the state has been supported by Non Governmental Organizations in the State like the Young Mizo Association (YMA), Mizo Upa Pawl (MUP), Mizo Women Organization (MHIP) on grounds that there was increased domestic violence, crime, accidents and poverty with Liquor consumption. YMA itself has a special army of prohibition fighters called Supply Reduction Service (SRS) who report bootleggers to the Police & Exise officials as well as voluntarily check vehicles for Liquor. Prohibition has been said to reduce the poverty, crime and violence in the state.
Challenges remain with Prohibition Liquor flourishing in the black market with bottles of alcohol selling 5 times more than the original price. There’s also a danger of increased mafia coming up and law enforcers becoming more corrupt. The cost of enforcing prohibition is high and the lack of tax revenue on alcohol is also probably affecting the government coffers.
Promoters of those who want the MLTP act to be lifted say that the government loses on tax, the rich drink liquor but go unpunished while the poor who brew local liquor and drink are punished and put behind bars. Those against the MLTP act being lifted say that the gains from a stable society, united family, and check on liquor consumption increases family income as well as promotes social stability, they also believe that were the MLTP act to be lifted, there would be total chaos in society as there would be binge drinking and riots in the street. The actual situation could be somewhere midway, the Church cannot be blamed for their standpoint in restricting alcohol consumption but it remains the discretion of the state government how it would like to amend or restrict the Liquor Act.