Cheers to This Andhra Minister for Calling Beer A “Health Drink”
Andhra Excise Minister KS Jawahar told a news channel that the government would promote beer as a healthy drink.
The Supreme Court may want to cleanse the country's highways of alcohol, and politicians in neighbouring Tamil Nadu can continue to make fiery speeches about prohibition, on Andhra minister is unfazed. In fact, he has words that will have all drinkers going "Cheers!".
Andhra Pradesh Excise Minister KS Jawahar valiantly defended people's right to a cold mug of beer, calling it a “health drink”. The minister courted controversy on Tuesday, after he reportedly claimed that beer was a 'health drink'.
Amid protests by women over the state's new liquor policy, he purportedly told a TV news channel that the government would promote beer as a healthy drink.
Also Read: Stretch, Sip and Stay Fit With ‘Beer Yoga’
The minister was talking about the state's new excise policy on TV9 Telugu, when he claimed that beer was a health drink. The anchor immediately responded, asking the minister how he can make such a statement, and how he would prove that.
Immediately, the minister responded by saying:
Who said beer is not a health drink? I am ready to prove it. Come here, and I will prove it. How can I prove it through television?
PTI reported that he even sent a WhatsApp message to the channel on Tuesday morning, listing the “health benefits” of beer, in a note titled ‘13 amazing benefits of beer’.
"The health benefits of beer include anti-cancer properties, a reduced risk of cardiovascular diseases, increased bone density, prevention of dementia and coronary disease. It also aids the digestive system, treats diabetes and has anti-ageing properties," the news agency quoted the note as saying.
Although, not everyone is raising their glasses in celebration.
YSRCP MLA Roja lashed out at Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu and the minister, and accused the state of actively promoting alcoholism and also dubbed them ‘anti-women’.
She also mockingly asked if Jawahar was willing to come forward for an alcohol test. According to reports, Naidu summoned the minister on Tuesday evening and gave him a piece of his mind.
Since then, the minister has been saying that his comments were taken out of context, and were used to ridicule him on social media. The minister told Hindustan Times:
I was reacting to a question on promoting liquor as part of the new excise policy. I said the government does not encourage liquor consumption, but tries to control it. Since it is practically impossible to prevent people from drinking, I said it would be better to encourage consumption of beer instead. Beer is a healthier option compared to other forms of liquor because it contains very less alcohol.
Responding to Roja’s challenge, Jawahar told TV9:
I also have a challenge. You (Roja) and me will go for an alcohol test. Let’s see who has more alcohol inside them. I’m ready to do it publicly. Even those who criticise, should be ready.
Interestingly, the minister also said, “I didn’t even know the difference between Beer and Breezer until I took on the responsibility. It was only after that, that I studied the different types and different brands of alcohol that are available, and am now taking steps to curb liquor in the state.”
He also pleaded people to stop his ‘character assassination’ on social media, and said that his goal was to see a liquor-free state.
“I would appeal to all the people, to stop drinking immediately,” he said.
This comes after a meeting of senior excise officials in Andhra was held on Monday, which considered the option of serving locally brewed beer, by issuing licenses to micro-breweries and parlours.
If implemented, the first phase is planned to target beer lovers in Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam, excise officials said. Last week, the state implemented the Supreme Court directive, that liquor shops and bars should not be situated within 500 metres of state and national highways.
Thousands of outlets had to reportedly down their shutters, while others had to be pushed into residential areas for the SC ruling had to be followed. However, these outlets were facing stiff resistance from local residents, who did not want a liquor shop near their houses, schools or places of worship.
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