Please, 'beer with us'!
At the State Youth Parliament organised by the Goa State Legislature Department at Panaji on Sunday, Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar ended up making a tongue in cheek remark. He reportedly said: "I have begun to fear now because even the girls have started drinking beer. The tolerance limit is being crossed." Soon after, this was reported by the media and social networking platforms such as Facebook and Twitter were consequently flooded with remarks criticising Parrikar's take on some Indian women consuming alcohol. CM Parrikar made these remarks while talking about the ongoing crackdown on narcotic drugs in the state. Earlier, when Finance Minister Arun Jaitley introduced the Economic Survey 2018, the 500-odd-page document had a pink cover—the choice of colour had suggested that the government is becoming aware of the gender issues ranging from skewed sex ratio to economic freedom and is now, ready to address them. As a number of states are going to Assembly polls this year and the general elections are due mid-next year, the BJP-led NDA governments at the Centre and in the states are trying to woo different constituencies of voters. The largest chunk of voters, who are yet to decide which party they will vote for, is the youth, and then, the women. Women's votes are traditionally decided by the family they belong to. This trend is likely to change as many modern Indian women are not only well-educated but also make decisions independently about their lives. As expected, CM Parrikar's remarks unleashed a flurry of comments on social networking sites, some suggesting to 'beer with us' to others proclaiming that 'drunk women pose no threat to men'. From a pink cover on the Economic Survey documents to CM Parrikar teasing Indian women on their increasing freedom to choose their drinks, BJP leaders are coyly seeking the attention of women voters. From women voters in orthodox families to modern ones working and living in big cities, the BJP poll strategists have their eyes set on every demographic. CM Parrikar's controlled anguish over some women reaching out to their mug of beer is a calculated move to sensitise young women voters, who are undecided about the political alternative that BJP represents. Tactfully worded, Parrikar's remarks fall short of hurting the feelings of young women who do not mind drinking a beer or any other drink of their choice. If anything, Parrikar's remarks only recognise the freedom the young women flaunt in modern India. His remarks are nuanced to leave a warm feeling and striking headiness of a can of beer among his target audience. They do not offend anyone and, at the same time, they initiate a debate on a question where many parents would find themselves on the same page as Parrikar, that is, how much freedom should they grant their children?