chapter  9
16 Pages

The culture of prohibition in Gujarat, India


The idea of Gujarat conjures a number of contradictory and paradoxical images. In the fi eld of political culture, for example, there is a sharp and well-known contrast between the Gandhian past and modern politicized and assertive Hinduism. A recent analysis has also drawn attention to the confl icting relation between the forces of altruism and egoism in much of the state’s history. 1 It might be tempting to view prohibition as something a society does because there is a general consensus that alcohol is a bad thing, either in an absolute sense, or because people need to be protected from its seductive charm. In this chapter, however, we wish to suggest something different: that prohibition is a symptom of some of the underlying cultural and historical contradictions in the social makeup of Gujarat.