5th Oct 2011 was my birthday and I came back from Vadodara Gujarat with my family.
Gujarat introduced alcohol prohibition soon after the British left and has stuck to this policy ever since. People call it, dry state, but I had a very rich and empowering experience in the last three days in Gujarat.
It was my dream come true, when I heard that these are the days of Durga Navratrey. Nine days of celebrations and empowerment. I wittnessed, along with my wife Garbha, the dance festival. During the Festival every one in the community irrespective of their age, young, old and men and women participate and dance free from alcohol. Watching the event on the grounds of the Faculty of Fine art MS University from a distance was itself very refreshing and euphoric.
I asked one dancing girl student what she was getting out of it: She told me that she enjoyed being with others in the traditional community dance every year and meet alumnis of all ages. I asked another man, Vishal from Rajsthan who is working in a multinational company in Vadodara, and he told me that it is only the non-availability of alcohol which makes it possible to celebrate this festival peacefully.
I strongly feel that a balanced, restrictive approach is needed to deal with the problem of alcohol use in India.