Pragmatism for a change

Imti Longchar

The ongoing saga of debate surrounding NLTP Act 1989 has once again taken center stage as Dimapur’s civil society organizations push for lifting the decades old prohibition act has opened floodgate of opposition from the Church. 

The Nagaland Baptist churches is reiterating their stand to relentlessly fight for reinforcement of the Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition (NLTP) Act, 1989 and “hold firm to the ways the Christian fore-parents of Nagaland who had fasted with tears and sacrificed their lives for the noble cause.” 

The church’s fervent and moralistic response, though well-intentioned, is a disconnect from the realities on the ground. That prohibition is an effective means of addressing alcohol-related issues holds little water and ironically, it has only exacerbated them. 

The more than three decades (34 years) of prohibition in Nagaland has shown that it has done little to curb liquor trade or eliminate its consumption but only driven it underground, leading to a host of unintended consequences.

Rather than achieving its intended goal of reducing harm, it has inadvertently fostered illegal markets, increase in alcohol abuse, eroding of public trust and promoted corruption. The existence of liquor mafia is a direct result of prohibition. These mafias operate outside the law, making it difficult for law enforcement to control them effectively. 

This unregulated, illegal market has not only exposed consumers to potentially unsafe and adulterated products but has fueled crime and corruption, ultimately undermining the very values that the church seeks to protect. 

The rigid stance on liquor prohibition has also alienated many individuals who do not share this viewpoint, making them feel disconnected from the church’s message. This position has made the church appear intransigent and dictatorial and shying away from its responsibility to be inclusive and relevant in its teachings and actions. 

While the church’s commitment to moral values and safeguarding the well-being of its congregation is commendable, it is essential to recognize that times have changed. The world we live in today is vastly different from the one that led to the imposition of the prohibition act in 1989. The demographics, social norms, and understanding of addiction and alcohol abuse have all evolved significantly. 

It is imperative for the church to embrace a more pragmatic approach to the liquor prohibition act by acknowledging the changing realities of our society, the unintended consequences of prohibition, and the need for a more comprehensive and sensible approach to liquor regulation. 

The church, along with other proponents of prohibition, must recognize that the current approach is not achieving its intended goals. Instead of clinging to a failed ideology, it is time to reassess its position, engage in open and constructive dialogues about alternatives to addressing alcohol-related issues while considering the complexities and nuances of the situation. 

Being open to change is not a betrayal of values but rather an adaptation to the evolving needs of the congregation and society.