by Kawal Deep Kour (PhD, Indian Institute of Technology)
As part of M.K. Gandhi’s call for non-cooperation with Indian colonial authority in 1921, abhorrence of drink and drugs were included on the agenda of the constructive programme of the movement. His promotion of temperance and adherence to the principle of non-violence were unique in Indian political culture and appreciated throughout the country. With Gandhi’s call to shun all intoxicants, including opium, ganja and liquor, prohibition as a policy initiative became a major plank of nationalist politics. The act of renouncing and liquor and drugs represented a sobering symbol of freedom from colonial bondage.
Under Gandhi’s direction, the self-purification movement implied that abstinence in regard of drink and drugs was to be the starting point in unshackling the country from imperial slavery. He said, “I hold drink to be more damnable than thieving and perhaps prostitution. If I was appointed dictator for one hour for all India, the first thing I would do would be to close without compensation all the liquor shops.”