An Open letter to the new Excise Minister

By: Soonya Naidu

Thanks to one cheap TV Channel and its petty anchor and a spiteful script writer ‘Paachi’ Kallu has come to fore.

Paachi Kallu is used by the arrogant Andhra’s to demean Telangana people as drunk or as drunkards while the facts speak otherwise.

Like the proverbial ‘guruvinda ginza’ our friends from the border and their apologists in Telangana ignore the numerous ‘Braaandi shops’ in Andhra and the Naatu Saara which flows. Why, Shriman NTR named the scheme ‘Varuna Vaahini’ even! They even introduced modern ‘Automatic Form Fill and Seal’ machines and branded them and sold then in ‘Prasadu’ – prabhutva saarai dukanams!

I’d like to thank the Cheap Channel for bringing the issue of ‘Kallu’.

Dear Sir,

Long long ago, the government used to sell Neera and I remember the days
when my father would take me for a walk in the morning to buy his newspaper
at Osmania Medical College Koti and both of us would savor one small bottle of
fresh and cold neera and walk back to our house in Sultan Bazar.

May I request that your department consider it seriously and initiate a
corporation if there is none to procure, process and provide Neera, to the
citizens of Hyderabad.

I am sure it will provide a good price to the toddy tappers and will ameliorate
their incomes.

May I also suggest that you rope in IIIT Baasra and Osmania University to
develop various products to make the life of toddy tappers easier and safe while
protecting the consumers of both the fresh Toddy (neera) and fermented Toddy

For example some of the challenges and opportunities are listed here:

1. How do we control the fermentation process so that the amount of alcohol does not exceed in the Kallu.
2. How do we keep it cool and clean and filter it – as many living organisms love including the lowly ants!
3. Can we develop and market organic sugar and jaggery from toddy and keep from becoming soggy and moisture attracting? The Toddy sugar
is a great product and tastes fantastic. Khadi and Gramodyog folks use
to sell it in Koti long ago.
4. Can the toddy plant be researched by our Horticulture departments and scientists to see which one yields more sugar under what
conditions and what types and develop new seed?
5. Create a Toddy festival like Octoberfest in Germany and make it a tourist attraction every year.
6. Please do appoint a manager/leader to ensure that we develop within 6 months, appropriate harnesses to save the lives of Toddy
Tappers who die falling from the trees. Every year it is believed 150
Toddy Tappers lose their lives and their families lose a bread earner.
Under your regime please do solemnly resolve that no life will be
lost as part of occupational hazard. I have seen such harnesses in
Phoenix, Arizona,US where workers have to prune/cut the branches of
ornamental Palmyra trees.
7.Introduce Veturi Prabhakara Sastris essay on multiple uses of Toddy tree in school curriculum. Better, ask any Gouda literary person to
write one! Thee are many in Telangana! Or best a song by Goreti
Venkanna also as an addition.
8. Aelay Laxman lost an opportunity to add the Toddy Palmyra to our state Logo!
9. Ensure that Diazepam, Hydralchlorate which are used with impugnity by money mongers are arrested and controlled ruthlessly. If necessary
call the elders of Gouda Sanghams and have a strict policy of managing the purity of the Kallu.

New excice policy.

Kindly explore ways and means of discouraging the stupidly names ‘IMFL’ or
Indian Made Foreign Liquor.

It’s a shame to gloat and clink our glasses when we can brew our own!

The monks discovered rum and the Carribeans figured out a way of producing
some of the finest rums especially dark rums in the world.

The Lodha’s (willing to be corrected if I am wrong) of Dhoolpet were ‘invited’ to
set up shot to brew liquor.

Instead of seeing them as ‘boot-leggers’ or anti-social elements, we must
encourage them and train them to brew local stuff which their ancestors knew
and brand it like Dhoolpet Drink or something like that.

We must also encourage and help the Tribals in Telangana who are proud
of ‘Mahua’ and even Bhadradri Rama likes the Mahua the flower which
yields sugar and is used by tribals to brew ‘Mahua liquor’. Can the Tribal
commissionerate or Corporation get it Geo-tagged or patented so that only small
quantities are made and priced and sold in the best of the stores world over as a
fine liquor? The proceeds should go to tribal development.

Can we ask the Kayasths of Hyderabad who hold many secret recipes from time
immemorial and who know how to ferment various fruits and make wonderful
fruit liquors and brand and patent them?

If the French, Spanish and Italian can be proud of their vintage wines, why not
Telangana on the world map of world-class liquors?

If Chinese can be proud of their beers, why can’t we commission our OU or IICT
or CFTRI to build a special brew or beer from Jowar which can be grown on
marginal soils with very little water?

Please do give sops to those foreign companies and brewers to build their malt
from jowar, especially the ‘blackened’ jowar – for a grain based alcohol is a true
Whiskey. And how about inventing our own whiskey? You will be a trail-blazer
and all the dry-lands and uplands in India, especially the Hyderabad Karnataka
and Marathwada region farmers will be thankful to you.

And please encourage micro-breweries in Telangana and come up with a policy.
If people were to drink beer, it is better they drink some without glycerine and
other preservatives. It creates a local economy and it creates a touristic variety
and costs less.

Madanna was a smart leader I learn, and it is believed that he created the Abkari
Policy under his regime so that good taxes were collected. He seemed to have
told the government officers to encourage planting of Toddy saplings on all
bunds where there could be water during rains and collected taxes on all trees
and had a good income for the government.

Telangana people are celebrating type, even when they are on roads protesting
they break into song and dance. Even when they are taking their dead to the
Khabrastan, they have some toddy and dance, which is seen as ‘funny’ by our
Andhra friends.

I am told, the true and traditional Vaishnavites do not cry when some one in the
family passes away, for the believe that the dead person is leaving for Vaikuntam
or God’s abode, something to feel good about than mourn.

These Andhra fellows have no sensitivity or tolerance, but have an arrogant
ethno-centric view of every thing.

Sorry for digression, the point I wanted to make was, can we proudly celebrate
our culture, like the French do. Nobody finds it objectionable when the French
take wine during lunch. Or an American drinks beer during lunch. Why should
we be made to feel otherwise?

Why the Churches, I am told give a few drops of wine as the blood of Jesus!

So, please do not see alcohol as taboo, for the Soma was invented by Gods and is
known as god’s drink and the Monks discovered wine and rum. So you have holy
blessings! (I am an atheist, but enjoy the stories).

However, invest a part of the income of your department to encourage
responsible drinking. And also you must support the police department with
breathalysers. To make it easier, you can insist that all bars and drinking places
provide one breathalyzer so that people who decide to drink or get drunk do not
drive and kill themselves and others on the roads.

Your department truly reflects ‘Joy de Vivre’ or Joy of Life!

Let us look at French for inspiration but not worry about our Victorian value
laden Andhra critics!

Telangana people have been original and are original. Quite unlike our brothers
beyond the borders. Our movements created original forms of protest, like
vanta-varpu, even the communists who always protest had to learn it from the
Telangana movement. Our protests were filled with songs and dance. Potana
according to KCR is the aadi kavi not anuvada kavi like Nannayya. There is more
Telugu in Potana’s than Nannayya’s poetry.

Time to rewrite history. What better way than starting the exercise in the excide

I am sure you will appreciate the ‘spirit’ of this letter.

Yours spiritedly for Telangana


Related Articles

8 Responses

  1. sree says:

    Soonya, for once I am in 100% agreement with you; both the background political issue of uncalled for insults by TV9 and the issue of neera.

    The issue of insult is such that it transcends the current rivalry between the states, it is criticizing “classes of people” on both sides of the state. The irony is that this channel claims to be anti-classist (if there is such a a word)every 10 mins.

    Recently I have noticed that Coconut water from Southeast asia is being able to be marketed in USA without using any preservatives or refrigeration using Tetra paks. If Neera is harvested in a clean stainless steel vessel and filtered and tetra packed within hours it may reduce the fermentation and fresh enough to be marketed. Mi’ 2 cents.

    • soonya says:

      Well we may find more on which we agree 🙂

      WE as Indians have this low-self-esteem and are not proud to market our own way of life.

      What you suggested is eminently possible. Hope the new Excise Minister takes cognisance of this article and the posts here and make the necessary changes in the policy and enables some new initiatives.

  2. J R Janumpalli says:

    List of national liquors:

    Please scan the list in the link.

    ‘A national liquor is an alcoholic drink considered a standard and respected adult beverage in a given country. While many such drinks status may be informal, there is usually a general consensus in a given country that a specific drink has national status or is the “most popular liquor” in said nation’.

    Some popular national liquors:
    Australia: Beer; Cuba: Mojito; France: Brandy (Cognac), Wine (Champagne); Germany: Schnapps;
    Italy: Grappa; Mexico: Tequila; Poland: Vodka; Spain: Sherry; Scotland: Scotch whiskey; United States: Bourbon Whiskey; Arabia: Arrack; South America: Rum; etc.

    Toddy is considered one of the national liquors of India in the list, as shown below.
    India: Bhang (Cannabis), Feni (Cashew or Coconut), Toddy (Palm Wine)
    Telangana: Kallu or Toddy (Palm wine from Palmyra (Toddy)) and wild date palm (Eetha) and Sara from mohua flowers or fermenting from other starch containing products akin to Arrack and Vodka.

    Fun loving people everywhere in the world in a nation or State have a liquor of their own. Like the food, clothing, language etc., it is part of their ethos. Enjoying it is part of their life and in the important events of their life is part and parcel of their culture. It is done all over the world in almost every community. Over enjoying it and doing wrong things after taking it, is wrong every wehere.Thus Telangana is a fun-loving society and has its own original liquors as part of its culture.

    If others don’t have their own and import their liquors like many other things from outside, drink more than Telangana people, do many undesirable things after it and ridicule Telangana people in the name of their liquors what will we call it. It is their culturelessness, nothing else.

    Any way Soonya! It is a good topic you have brought up here.It makes us nostalgic about our childhood and good things of life in the villages. But the Toddy of today is almost Diazepam and Hydra chlorate not the organic toddy of olden days. Bringing it back to that vintage could be an impossible task. How ever if it could be revived and brought it to as close as possible to its old organic form that would be good for the fun- loving people of Telangana.

    • soonya says:

      Thanks, JRJ as ever you are diligent. Will go through the links.

      Hope we can create a new spirited economic boost to our rural economy.

      I guess the trick is getting the impossible done, and we ought to try. Many thought Telangana impossible some time ago right? WE proved them wrong. Let us do it again, again and again.

  3. vijayshree says:

    I think I opened MT site after a long time and looking for what I’ve missed for so long. I somehow felt cut off all these days..I just read your article and was taken back to my childhood days..Yeah, neera tasted heavenly..when I had it once in our village..just once I think…

    I think you did not touch on one topic here, while you were on it, and which many andhraites ridicule and that is our culture is probably the only one in India apart from tribal cultures, where women share a drink with men..I used to see my father pour a drink for women who were his sisters, by blood or otherwise and they would happily drink and chat away…

    When somebody died,after the funeral ceremony was over, women got drunk too and may be forgot their pain…drowned their sorrow in drink..

    All those memories stay fresh in my did not create a family of drunkards anywhere..but after Andhraites started looking down upon this practice as lowly, even our people frowned upon it, women would never admit to having shared a drink long time ago..and I found it puzzling that mother never allowed me to drink, even a bit when I was in that time of experimenting with various things, so going on the sly and drinking in pyjama parties was the norm..

    At times I really feel like drowning my sorrow in drink, but my health does not allow for that and a girl who saw me drink just once, calls me a drunkard and sttributed my health problems to it..

    So something is really wrong, somewhere, I don’t know, there was this Andhra guy who worked in our office who would ridicule the habit of women of Tg drinking alongside their men, I told him it is much better than shitting alongside men, as they do on the Guntur railway tracks, that shut his mouth..I wonder what would have been his reaction if he knew, I used to drink too…

    We are open in everything, that is the whole thing, we don’t know how to hide our emotions, disguise our feelings and bury our sorrows or our joys..It has to all come out and be done with..We know how to enjoy life and live it to its fullest..that is why I feel I have no regrets in life, even in the most difficult times, I’ve managed to steal happiness out of it and broke many rules that this goddamn society made for us, specially for women…I haven’t drawn boundaries for others, and never said this is right and this is wrong, when I myself do not know what is right and what is wrong..I feel men find this slightly intimidating when a woman behaves in this way..sometimes I think all the lines I have blurred and I am a man too..and in a far long gone time, we did share a drink with men without any shame and without being judged by anyone…

    That spirit lives within me and I think I am not bound by any rules nor will I bind anyone to such rules, which I don’t believe in..You can call me shameless, but I am telanagana woman and however patriarchal our society was, once upon a time, it did not believe in certain things which are looked at as a taboo and I feel proud of it, whatever people might make of what I just wrote now..Yes, I am unhealthy, so I don’t drink but I do miss not drinking when I feel like doing it and I really enjoyed Shoonya’s article as much as any man would and I openly admit to it…

    • soonya says:

      Thanks for the spirited defence!

      My bad I did not mention about women ‘partaking’ in spirits along with men. I used to see it in ‘Kallu Compounds’.

      Alcohol was taboo in my house where I grew. I totally broke it in my own house and am open about it even with my children.

      I used to work for a large IT company started by Andhra entrepreneurs. In their family outings, or other parties alcohol would be offered to men, and ‘soft drinks’ for women. My life partner used to find it insulting and funny. They wouldn’t even ask, and presume that women do not drink or need not drink! And they have a ‘zanana’ attitude where men and women are made to sit separately, now you know where they come from – Bhimavaram!

      I used to go around and ask my wife and any other women if they wanted to have a glass of beer or some wine!

      One of my close friend’s home, my friend’s mother would drink kallu and the father who was a driver was a teetotaller!

  4. Baswa Raj says:

    Soonya, It is even possible to produce Champagne like colorless bubbly drink from Toddy. I myself from a Lingayat (Vegetarian + Teetotaller) family have made wine from Oranges, Apples and Grapes. My Late Grand Mother who watched the making process saw me adding sugar to fruit juice and totally ignorant of resultant alcohol insisted on tasting it. As I was making wine at home at the sly, I could not resist her demand. Only complaint the old lady has that she has increased appetite after partaking my Fruit Juice LOL

  5. Rao says:

    Dear Soonya

    I appreciate ur comments , you have wonderful knowledge about history of telangana,and the information u have collected is marvelous, and also tell andhraits who have settled in ts to read the article.I once again salute u.

Leave a Reply to J R Janumpalli Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *