Posts Tagged ‘The joy of drinking’

The lure, joy and political influence of drinking

May 29, 2008

Jayan reviews Barbara Holland’s The joy of drinking. Sounds like a very interesting book (which even makes Jayan wonder if he is missing something, being a teetotaller):

My last thoughts on this are, if this is so much fun and entertaining , am I missing something ?

The sections of the review about the role of alcohol in elections in US and India

One such story on George Washington is interesting. Apparently, he lost his initial election to the local body, later realised the power of alcohol in the electoral battle. This time he invested in 144 gallons of rum,wine and beer handing out to the voters. In India, it is a regular affair in the election , from the local bodies to the supreme Parliament, that supply of Alcohol does impact the result of the election. I recall one of the cleaning staff in Office telling me as ” he gave me Rs150 + 2 packets ( of local arrack) and I voted for him where as the other candidate gave only 100 and one packet “.

reminded me of Ram Guha’s recent piece in the Hindu on Sir C P Ramaswamy Iyer and how India lost the diplomatic battle on Kashmir to Pakistan, among other things, due also to the vegetarian and teetotaller representative:

Many years ago, I was told by the civil servant C.S. Venkatachar, then a high official in the Government of India, that we were right in going to the United Nations, but wrong in the choice of the man sent to represent us. Pakistan had deputed Mohammed Zafrullah Khan to argue their case. Zafrullah was both a brilliant lawyer and a superb host. In the meetings of the Security Council he argued the Pakistani point of view eloquently and effectively. Outside the portals of the U.N., he entertained the representatives of the powerful Western powers.

The Indian representative was the canny administrator, Gopalswami Iyengar. Iyengar was a good man to have in the Secretariat, masterly in writing notes on file that summarised in a few crisp points a complex argument. But he was not the best of speakers, nor — at least in the context of Manhattan — the most charming of hosts (that he was a vegetarian and teetotaller hardly helped). In the early discussions, Zafrullah ran rings around Iyengar, establishing an advantage that Pakistan have never since relinquished. For, from those first days of the internationalisation of the Kashmir dispute, the Western nations have been inclined to take Pakistan’s side against India’s.

Venkatachar believed that Zafrullah could have been neutralised had India instead sent C.P. Ramaswamy Iyer as its principal spokesman. Sir C. P. was a brilliantly gifted lawyer and speaker, who had travelled widely in Europe and imbibed the best (some would also say the worst) in European culture. He had no dietary or drinking inhibitions. In and out of the U.N., he would have put the best possible spin on India’s case for Kashmir.

Interesting thoughts!