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07 March 2016

Binge Drinking in Kerala Campus: A memory...

Today morning I woke up to an IE Article. "Left activists threw my stuff out of JNU hostel dormitory, says ABVP member".

Since the above incident is under investigation, I will not comment on it unlike some TV Channels.....

This incident took me back about 25 years ago, when I was studying Engineering in Kerala.

Just like JNU, our campus was highly politically polarized. We had SFI, KSU and Independents. Many of the KSU students leaned towards Independents. So the campus was polarized between SFI and Non-SFI.

And just like what is happening in JNU today, there was a lot of outside interference in our campus. Any opposition to leftist ideology was met with swift and violent retribution. At least one student chose to leave our campus since he could not handle this oppressive environment. That few of my friends were beaten up in the campus due to their anti-SFI ideology, was par for the course.

We used to stay in hostel. Back then our college had three hostels. In the absence of any innovative ideas, the hostels were named as A Hostel, B Hostel and C Hostel. Each hostel had its own mess. So we had A Mess, B Mess and C Mess.

Each mess was managed by a student. The Mess Manager used to change every month.

Mess manager was a very powerful person. He handled the entire budget of the mess for the month. He decided on the menu for each day. And the menu for the Feast.

The Feast !!!

Once every week, each mess had a feast. The feast was when exotic food was available liberally. There was no limit to what you can eat. Fried Rice, Fish Fry, Fish Curry, Parathas, Veggie dishes were all followed by a dessert of the mess manager's choice.

In this particular month, the mess was managed by a friend of mine. He was one of those optimistic, positive, nervous high strung kind of guy who wanted to do different stuff and wanted to do them differently.

For the last feast of that month, the manager decided to add a small cup of wine to the menu. Just a small cup, probably two tea spoonfuls. Hardly anything that you could call as excess. For those who did not drink wine, there was alternative, in the form of Fruit Juice.

Remember, this was Kerala, with equal proportion of Christians who are used to partake red wine in many joyous occasions.

What could be more joyous than the last feast of the month? Or so he thought.

But this was also the other Kerala, This was the late 80s. Left ideology was trying to break into the confined spaces of educational institutions of higher learning.

For the left, this was an opportunity too good to miss.

The next day we woke up screaming headlines in the left leaning news paper in Kerala. 'Binge Drinking in Engineering College Mess', it said in the title. Article went on to explain how booze was available aplenty in our college mess. Article made it look as if there was a drunken orgy going on in our campus almost on a daily basis.

Police was on the campus inquiring about binge drinking and mess manager (who was an anti-left sympathizer, of course) forcing people to drink alcohol. It was as if the innocent and helpless students in the campus were in some kind of Siberian Prison, at the mercy of an oppressive and dictatorial mess manager.

Unlike the reaction to JNU incident, the Government of the day did not intervene. Fortunately common sense prevailed. The case was closed.

But the left won a big PR victory. It was able to instill more fear into those opposing its ideology. It had shown it ability to get police into the campus. It could hurt the career of us students if it chose to.

This is what I am reminded of when I read the above article. Many people have already made their judgement. Whatever may be the ultimate outcome, the PR advantage has already gone to ABVP in this case.

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