Monday, January 31, 2011
Ban the Ban: Its Getting Nauseating!
It’s easy. Just ask parents and teachers. And if you happen to be one yourself, then it makes it easier still to know what works, and pressingly, more of what does not work when dealing with your kids at home or the kids in your class. The forbidden fruit, through its very nature, catapults the opposite reaction to the desired one. And that was just an apple. Now replay the scenario in your head by replacing the passé apple with a groovy looking open hooded pimped up BMW convertible with the silver key in the ignition and the logo keychain dangling – in essence inviting and enticing you.
There would not be a moment’s hesitation. And to have all that in a town or a garden where the only inhabitants are you and your mate! Who comes up with these cunning ingenuities and the follies therein! In this day and age, for that matter any era or century of your liking and choosing have had their share of bans and fines, laws and penalties. Why, one of the Ten Commandments of Moses is “Thou Shall Not Commit Adultery.” Now keeping in mind the gravity of that ban and its consequences, of basically being excommunicated from god and all his powers and favors – that’s a fearsome spectacle and a line you do not want to even attempt to cross. But people broke the ban anyways. And that’s because the urge to do what you are not supposed to do or allowed to do is as human as human can be.
If for want of an apple the mates at Eden were ready to face the wrath of the holy one, what are man’s laws? Accepted that not all, matter of fact, the majority of the world functions because there are written and hard wired rules and regulations in place, either premeditated and passed as law or naturally in-built. Right and wrong, even with all its shady gray areas, is something we know instinctively and if we did not, we learn from the experience and never repeat it again, ever.
Having said that, when a law is passed with premeditation and judgment, such as the ban/illegality/forbidden case of the cigarette, really, is that the best you can come up with? Who, in all their sanity, walks around with receipts in their pockets? And this is coming from a Bhutanese, a species naturally allergic to anything resembling authority. We do not even count the change, or ask for a receipt no matter what we buy – from potatoes to SUVs. And if that is the case of the reality of things, well, a rabbit can’t help but be a rabbit, the kangaroo can’t help but hop around. We are what we are with all our frailties but please, for the sake of basic sanity; let’s not pretend that cigarettes are the bawdiest consumables lying around. All of a sudden everyone is feeling the pinch and the punch. I’m smoking as I write. The cigarette I “purchased” came from a “vendor” who does not, and probably cannot fathom, why anyone would need a receipt for a cigarette.
Now re-imagine another scenario: the powers that be decide to do the same with liquor and of course, the traditional doma. And that you may drink as much as you would like and chew as much doma as you would like provided you can produce the receipts for the same. It will complicate matters of actual importance and further blur the clarity with which things should be seen. There are many good laws in the country; sadly, none of them are enforced save the cigarette. We do not need bans that further depreciate the state of affairs. Forget the receipts, just tax the bloody thing and tax it with a sledge hammer. The single pack I bought cost me a hundred bucks. The MRP is somewhere at Rs 37. You see, I’d rather pay the government then indulge in black marketing, but then, you leave me with no choice and what’s more, you make me feel like a criminal.
Fortunately, I use my powers of imagination and tell myself it’s just another economic transaction borne of necessity. Don’t ban because you can; if nothing, man is equipped with an infinite array of imagination.