Imagine you have had a good night out with "the guys" — booze and all — and are hoping to return home quietly and just go to sleep. Fat chance if you have married one of the 700 brides to whom a BJP leader from Madhya Pradesh has gifted bats, which are to be used perchance their husbands become alcoholic!
Madhya Pradesh Panchayati Raj, Rural Development and Social Justice Minister Gopal Bhargava has taken this novel step to ensure that none of these families has to suffer any hardships because the primary breadwinner spends almost all his earnings to feed his alcohol habit.
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The gift was part of a mass-marriage ceremony arranged for prospective brides and grooms coming from economically weaker sections of society. It took place on the occasion of Akshaya Tritiya on April 29 in the Garhakota in the Sagar district of MP. Garhakota is Bhargava's hometown.
As for the bat, it is more of something used to wash clothes than play cricket with. It is known as "mogri" in Hindi, and this specific version has the following words written on it: "Sharabiyon ke sutara hetu bhent, police nahi bolegi." Translation: "Gift meant to beat up alcoholics. The police will not say anything [meaning, the police will not intervene]."
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So what prompted such an unusual gift? Bhargav told a news agency: "Whenever I visit any rural or urban area in my constituency, women complain about their husbands' drinking habit. They inform me that whatever little they earn is snatched away by their husbands for alcohol. They [the women] are also subjected to physical violence."
He added: "The idea of gifting mogri struck me when a woman asked me whether she should get her husband to stop drinking by beating him with this wooden plank." Bhargava, interestingly, has also ordered his ministry to distribute 10,000 such bats among women, who can then use to teach their alcoholic husbands a lesson.
According to a National Crime Records Bureau report, one person died an alcohol-related death every 96 minutes in India in 2013. If there was to be change, it would have to come from the people, Bhargava believes. He said: "The government or police alone would not be able to solve this problem. For this, people have to come forward. There are many examples in history which show that when masses intervene, things have changed for the better."
Here is the video of the programme: