Weekday Squib: India to ban public consumption of water

A sign of things to come

CHENNAI: After a ban on smoking in public places, and imposing controls on alcohol, Union health minister Anbumani Ramadoss is now eyeing the water bottle. A national policy on consumption of water in public places will be soon be implemented in the country, Dr Ramadoss said.

He said consultation with experts have begun but refused to elaborate. “On weekends, especially in the summer months, in cities like Bangalore and Chennai even women and children are going on smoking and drinking binge. It’s a dangerous trend. We’ll have to intervene and regulate the system. Just like alcohol consumption, water consumption poses a grave threat to India, the nation with 600 million people less than 30 years of age,” he said.

“The Constitution mandates all states to exercise prohibition but except J&K and Gujarat none of the states follow it. Prohibition is a state subject, I would urge all state governments to enforce to total prohibition. And since people who consume alcohol also mix it with water, banning water consumption will further strengthen the prohibition. Furthermore, water consumption is responsible for another public health hazard—illegal urination in public places like sidewalks, compound walls and corridors of government offices. Curbing water consumption in public places will reduce the threat of contagious diseases that arise from illegal urination”

The Union health ministry intends to replicate its successful formula—first employed against cigarette smoking—in the war against public consumption of water. “Watching film and sporting celebrities drink water in public, even small children get influenced. Even children in small towns and villages are demanding water bottles now. So I ask the film industry and BCCI to co-operate with us and refrain from on-screen water consumption. If they do not co-operate we will regulate.”

Dr Ramadoss stated that calling attention to fighting malnutrition, infant mortality, infectious diseases through the improvement of the national health care system is playing into the hands of the tobacco, alcohol and bottled water lobbies. He hinted that these lobbies are very powerful and had so shaped the UN’s millennium development goals (MDGs) so as to distract attention from India’s real health risks: cigarettes, alcohol and water.

Related Link: A sober one at Swaraj

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17 Responses to Weekday Squib: India to ban public consumption of water

  1. NotReallyAnonymous 14th October 2008 at 08:23 #

    …sigh….another round of treating the symptoms. Although, I agree with the ban on smoking in public places, it still remains a measure against a symptom(..I am assuming the real problem is about awareness of the consequences of smoking…I could be wrong..)

  2. Karun 14th October 2008 at 09:05 #

    Why, oh why, on God’s/FSM’s green earth are you giving Ramadoss ideas? This sounds frighteningly plausible, and I wouldn’t put it past the ‘doctor’ to implement this.

    Unless he has already done it… gulp!

  3. Nitin 14th October 2008 at 09:13 #


    Or rather, a question of priorities. If the man had gone after one fundamental problem plaguing public health with half the zeal he has shown for banning cigarettes and alcohol, he’d have done so much good.

  4. DK 14th October 2008 at 09:19 #


    I think this is far more serious than just indulging in an exercise of reductio ad absurdum.

    I am seriously shocked at how placidly everyone seems to take it. This is how the gradual stripping of our liberties begins. Where is our Media for heaven’s sake? They are playing the cheerleaders.

    God, this disgusts me.

  5. DK 14th October 2008 at 09:21 #

    PS. Just to clarify, your post does not disgust me :-). Our country’s response does.

  6. SS 14th October 2008 at 10:15 #

    Are you sure you aren’t writing for the Onion?

  7. Oldtimer 14th October 2008 at 11:21 #

    Ambumani uvacha:

    >> On weekends, especially in the summer months, in cities like Bangalore and Chennai even women and children are going on smoking and drinking binge.

    and then

    >> It’s a dangerous trend. We’ll have to intervene and regulate the system. Just like alcohol consumption, water consumption poses a grave threat to India, the nation with 600 million people less than 30 years of age

    Given he connects the first sentence with the latter, what “drinking binge” is he referring to in the first? Water drinking binge? Does drinking water pose a health hazard in summer months?

    If it’s alchol consumption: ok, agreed about the children part, and I guess there already are laws on the statute prohibiting the sale of liquor (and consumption by) children. But women? Is our health minister also going to penalize women who consume alcohol and throw them into Madras Central Jail? Who will cook for their husbands then?

    Just imagine what a stink would have been raised if some puritan/twerpish BJP minister made the remarks that our Diseased Minister did ..

  8. Venkat 14th October 2008 at 12:08 #

    Given our politicians’ zeal to give some knee jerk reactions to short term issues and ignore long term problems, no wonder AR has done the same too…

  9. Invalid 14th October 2008 at 12:27 #

    SS, you should have figured out that long back. Anyway, just an info, Acorn is the South Asian Version of Onion (customized for South Asian readers).

    Pun not intended.

  10. Udayan 14th October 2008 at 12:42 #


    You’ve been had. But it’s perhaps the sign of the times…after Anbu’s antics, this report is believable.

  11. Nitin 14th October 2008 at 12:44 #


    The Acorn is not a ‘version’ of anything. It’s the original.

  12. B.O.K. 14th October 2008 at 14:28 #

    Poe’s Law: Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won’t mistake for the real thing.


  13. Chandra 14th October 2008 at 22:56 #

    Nitin, obviously you’re implying that smoking, esp. second hand smoking, and drinking alcohol is the same as drinking water (or bottled water). While I understand the pun and frustration of talk of banning alcohol, I think the binge drinking is serious. And I venture to say that most Indians agree that alcohol is bad for you.

    While I do agree with you that Ramadoss time would be better spent on serious health care issues like providing access to one, do we know what the cost of smoking and alcohol on individuals and society is?

  14. Shaan 15th October 2008 at 14:26 #

    “British rubbish ‘dumped’ in India”
    What is Ramdoss doing about this? (link)

  15. Sugato Mitra 26th October 2008 at 11:28 #

    Ramadoss is madly trying to create issues, where none exist and skirting the real ones. His antics at the AIIMS bombed and hence the feverish effort to find something that gives him credence.
    Smoking has been banned in public places. One can’t smoke anywhere except within one’s house. It is perhaps the only law of its kind that makes a distinction between committing an act at two different places. Smoking in public affects the health of others which is Ramadoss’s concern. But when smoking at home endangers the health of family members, it is just the smoker’s concern. Rather than enacting such legislation, why not put a ban on the manufacture and sale of cigarettes altogether and do away with the evil for good? Perhaps, his colleague Chidambaram is not amenable to the idea.
    I was shocked to read that this venerable minister now wants to control the consumption of water in public. People whose job involves a lot of travelling can vouch for the sordid experience during the scorching Indian summer. Those not carrying water bottles with them drink anything, even adulterated aerated water sold by street vendors. People should drink water wherever and whenever required at such times. If, being a doctor he is trying to curb this practice, one has to doubt the authenticity of Ramadoss’s medical degree.

  16. Rohan 4th November 2008 at 13:26 #

    I can’t believe almost every commentor here has such an awful sense of humor!! Hilarious article! :)

  17. Ramesh Srivats 5th November 2008 at 17:16 #

    That was funny. Ramadoss is going to leave us cleaner, healthier and really, really bored. You can read my post on this

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