Led By Its Women, A Village In Rajasthan Votes Out Liquor Shops

liquor
Voting in progress at the village on March 30.

The women of Kacchabalee, a small village in Rajasthan’s Rajsamand district, successfully led a campaign to shut down the liquor shops in the village, prevailing upon the administration to hold a referendum on the issue.

The poll which was conducted by the district administration on Tuesday, asked voters to say ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to the liquor shop. An overwhelming majority of 94 per cent of the 2039 villagers who cast their votes said ‘No’. Under local excise laws, 51 per cent of the votes are sufficient to ban liquor in an area.

On the January 26, during the Republic Day celebrations, Sita Devi moved a resolution before the sarpanch (village chief) and other community leaders.

“We asked for a ban on the sale of liquor in our village,” she says. “We were fed up, over the years, of people had died of alcoholism. Women had become widows, left with little children to care of. In many families, women were the victims — being beaten by their drunk husbands.”

Other women soon joined her and put their signatures or thumb impressions on the resolution.

“When a man drinks, a woman is left to fend for the family. She works and struggles, earns Rs 100 and when she comes home he snatches that away to buy liquor,” says Khimi Devi.

Not only was alcoholism destroying hard-earned savings in this village where people are mainly daily wage earners, but also led to deaths. Villagers say, in the past five years, 84 people had died of various causes including accidents caused after drinking and driving. Many of them were young men, who left behind widows with small children to fend for.

Gattu Devi’s husband died five years ago. Excessive drinking led to liver failure. She spent over two lakhs on his treatment and says she is still repaying the debt.

“My life has been an endless round of struggle, earning and spending on my husband’s medical treatment… Sometimes I don’t know how to make ends meet, repay debts, feed myself or the children,” she says.

After collecting more than 1,500 signatures, the women went to the district collector asking to ban the sale of alcohol. The collector took up the appeal with the excise department and then ordered a poll on it.

“The way a panchayat election is held, that’s exactly the procedure that has been followed here and with full transparency,” says Narendra Kumar Jain, sub divisional magistrate of Bhim tehsil. And, the election voted out the liquor vends.

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  2. In that case only women should live in that village . why people want to impose their choices on others i have never understood. This is pure dictatorship of women panchayat. Appears women have been sufficiently empowered. Any way in reality it is a totally misplaced blame on alcohol. The real reasons lie in low happiness index in our nation, poverty , struggle for survival , day to day problems of health , food etc, and of course apathetic administration at rural areas where people cannot stand up for their rights and demand good administration and welfare . Mostly the govt staff wants to get posted only to cities; as a result even the govt servant present on location does not bother to implement good schemes of govt in the villages efficiently as they consider it a punishment posting. We know that doctors do not go to villages but prefer to pay the penalty after completing MBBS. If law, order and governance improved , no such issues will arise . People go and drink for mainly two reasons, they are not busy as there is no work or very little work and they dont have much money but liquor is cheap and makes a psychological alternative to forget the stress and struggle of living. In case of ladies they get involved in household affairs which keeps them occupied even though it may fetch monetary benefits but man looks for work that would help him earn money and status in the society, which when he fails to get he resorts to alcohol for a false sense of worth. Blaming alcohol amounts to missing the core issue of development, employment and social welfare.

  3. Great news. It shows how women can take a stand and democratically stop unwanted business in their locality.

  4. The highly commendable effort of its women has highlighted the name of Kacchabalee, the proud village of Rajasthan.
    Let us hope that the vested interests are not allowed to play their tricks there, and the voice of the affected subjects, the majority, is respected!
    On another note, one may wonder if such a referendum could be held in a state like Punjab!

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