Alcoholism has been a perennial problem in the Indian society, and was the major cause of many social evils in the society. It was particularly ruining the rural poor households. Today this major problem has become even worse as the Tamil Nadu State Government is itself selling liquor through its many thousands of outlets throughout the State. When the govt. sells liquor it is available all over the place, almost forcing itself on the youth and even children.
So, it was important that we organize a campaign against govt. itself promoting liquor habit on the people. The first rally was conducted on 9th March jointly by Magalir Shakthi (Women self help groups) promoted by SAM and the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) at the Chenalpattu town. More than 1000 women from 40 villages participated in the campaign. The rally began at 11.00 a.m. by paying due respect to Dr. Ambedkar’s statue opposite the Government Hospital at Chengalpattu and the memorial pillar in honor of John Thomas and Elumalai, who laid down their lives during the Panchami Land Rights Struggle in 1994. Rev. Fr. P.B. Martin, while speaking to press persons, reiterated the role of the Government of Tamil Nadu in promoting TASMAC (Govt. run liquor shops) in all cities, towns and villages and near schools, hospitals and other prominent places. The government instead of promoting education for all was promoting liquor for all. The government of Tamil Nadu, though headed by a woman, was not in favour of women and their families, rather, encouraged the men from the poor families to spend all their daily earnings in the TASMAC shops. It lead to women and children being beaten, tense atmosphere at home, children dropping out of schools etc. It affected the education of the children from the poor families.
All the special guests at the rally strongly felt this campaign was the need of the hour and quoted many examples of families and children ruined because of excessive and routine drinking. They fail in their commitment to the family, society and work place. The women promised to carry on their protests until the closure of the very last shop. Fr. P.B. Martin flagged off the demonstration and the women marched to the old bus stand shouting slogans against the government for running TASMAC shops and ruining their families.
Others who participated in this rally and public meeting were Mrs. T.A. Latha, State Secretary of WWCC (Working Women Coordination Committee), Mallai C.E. Sathya, Deputy Chief Secretary of one of the State political party called MDMK (Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam), Mrs. R.Meena, Chengalpattu Taluk Secretary, AIDWA, Mrs.V.Pramila, Kanchipuram District Secretary, AIDWA, all the office bearers of SAM and Magalir Shakthi.