This article belongs to Sweet Grace column.


        I don't know why our Indian Government is after smokers ! Poor chaps. Some years back, the Finance Minister was so wild with these fellows that he  kept increasing the duty on cigarettes year after year until the price became unaffordable even for a well off  veteran smoker.


        Do you recall  that once upon a time, there used to be ‘smoking' and  ‘non-smoking zone' inside an airliner.  You collected your boarding pass according to the zone of your preference   If you dared to smoke in the non-smoking zone, the airhostess would charge at you and snatch away your half-consumed cigarette and stamp it mercilessly right before your eyes.!


        But these days, smoking is completely prohibited during  all short flights.  And as a further punishment,  smoking is not allowed inside the toilet either.


        In some recent months, the Legislature of one of the Indian States  forbade smoking on public roads and outside the  shops etc.  True, this rule could not be enforced due to shortage of police personnel. It's a different matter if an odd policeman came out of his station to have a smoke quietly behind the walls of the police station. He is a guy who doesn't agree with the law.  Since there is no one to question them, the citizens also walked about with a cigarette between their fingers and letting off  smoke  rings and short puffs like a steam engine;  they were also very alert to toss off the butt into the drain if any  law-enforcing authority accosted them; they would then  feign complete innocence thereafter.  But, that never happened at all. Smokers continued to smoke at any place of their choice and at any time they wished.  The urge to smoke does not wait for any auspicious minute; it  could sprout out any time. 


        This kind of non-chalant attitude must have terribly infuriated the Government.  As a result,  they have now come out with a sort of draconian law.  The other day I read in the papers a Press note which stated that smoking is totally banned in any office both inside and outside, hotels and restaurants included. A smoker is free to smoke only inside his house and that too if he takes his wife's permission  and  also that of the  housemaid.


         In my opinion  this is a  grand order and an order par excellence too !  No one could have thought of such  a heartless measure except a sadist politician and ably translated into words by an equally hard-hearted bureaucrat.


         Is the intention of the order to generate domestic disharmony?   A wife might hesitate and say after a while, "all right."  But, according to the Government order, you have to take the housemaid's approval too !  There are around  some hard nut maids who would exercise their right  and say, "Sorry Sir, you can't."  Agreed, you could sack her because she is after all a paid employee. But then there is a danger behind this action.  If the maid packs up,  your wife would  make you do all the cleaning work  without giving you any respite or time to even think of smoking. So, you have to listen to your maid but you have the option to over-rule her.


         For the sake of peace and domestic  amity,  all good wives would say, " Go on honey, why ask me?"   


        Since a smoker is not allowed to enjoy his free will of smoking,  I think  the United Nations should pass a resolution ordering closure of all  industries that manufacture cigarettes in every country in the world.   In which case, millions would go out of job. But what could we do? That probably is the only positive step to deny a smoker his privilege to smoke!!  Or, we should catch hold of that Scientist or Medico or the Politician who said, "Smoking is injurious to health"  and tickle him all over the body left, right and centre  until he withdraws the statement;  after that,  he should also be given an imposition such as, "I shall not prohibit smoking, I shall not prohibit smoking"  to be written a  million times. And let him buy his own paper too for the imposition schedule.


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                                                                               Sweet grace [Israel Jayakaran]