Drinking is not a vice, drunkenness is


kushwant1a.jpgRenowned novelist and influential columnist, Kushwant Singh waded into the alcohol debate on Saturday with a column in the Hindustan Times. Known as a whisky drinker he not surprisingly shared his opinion that drinking is not bad as long as its done in moderation.

Many of us have heard Kushwant Singh speak, have read his novels and follow his columns eagerly in the press. In fact, Singh’s weekly column, “With Malice towards One and All”, carried by several Indian newspapers, is among the most widely-read columns in the country. In this piece here’s what he has to say about wines in particular:

In recent years, we also started making wines. Vineyards came up in Maharashtra and Karnataka. So we have our own red, white and rose wines as well as Champagne. Many of them are as good as any imported wine, and are good enough to find markets in old wine-producing countries and earn us foreign exchange.
Our aim should be to produce good quality beverages with low alcoholic content like lager, cider and wines rather than spirits like whiskey, gin, rum or feni. And at low prices which the poor can afford to buy. But will our stupid politicians ever learn any lessons?

Kushwant Singh makes a couple of important points. Firstly, that alcohol beverages especially those like wine should be made available to the poor. He also encourages the government to move as far away from prohibition as it can. By declaring that we’ve been drinking since pre-historic times, he shows that it is very much a part of our culture. And by explaining that drinking is a civilized thing to do, Singh dispels the myth that there’s something wrong about drinking.
He says it all perfectly hitting all the major issues including what the government’s role should be. But perhaps his best phrase is drinking is not a vice, drunkeness is.



  1. Vivek Khakhar on

    Though some of the phrases in the above blog are directly from the article Mr Khushwant Singh wrote in the Hindustan Time column as mentioned above.I would like to bring to the notice that the word “Champagne” is not appropriate and should rather be replaced by “Sparkling wine”,as only those sparkling wines which are produced in the region of Champagne,France are known as Champagne.

  2. Sanjay Menon on

    “There shall never be a drunkard in a country where wine is cheap,” so said Thomas Jefferson, the last of the sensible American Presidents before the current one!
    We are the #1 producer of whisky and brandy, neither of which bears any relationship with the original product being produced from molasses which is the original source for the production of Rum, in which category we are again #1.
    Wine & Beer are taxed very reasonably in China, both soft and healthy alcoholic beverages; as a result now, China is the worlds no. 1 beer market having overtaken the US some 4-5 years ago and at 85 million cases of domestic wines and 13 mn cases of imported (including bulk) is also a significant market for wine.
    India’s beer consumption is about 0.5 litre per capita compared to over 16 litres for China and its market for wine is at about 1.2 mn cases for domestic wine and less than 0.15 mn cases for imported.
    So who’s building the healthier nation to take on this millennium?!

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