Homestay Minister Rum Brave is a multi-tasker in a hurry, he wants to abolish all cartels, crack down on crooked contractors, overhaul the police, and most importantly for national security, stop allowing passengers from bringing in 1 litre of duty-free liquor each into the country. Doing a rough calculation on the back of an envelope which contained a wad of kickback moola, Minister of Home Affairs found out that untaxed hooch making it to the market was costing the treasury 1 billion Roops a year – meaning the Grumblement had much less money to waste on cash handouts and paying for ministerial junkets.
Such cynicism is unwarranted. The Gobblement is just trying to ensure that Nepal is self-sufficient in booze, and to narrow the trade deficit. If I may, the Ass has a much better idea. Nepal shares an open border with India and the two countries have age-old historical and cultural bonds based on the custom of not having customs for people-to-people transactions.
Gold biscuits are smuggled south, Britannia Thin Arrowroot biscuits are smuggled north. We export contraband bulls to Bihar, and import water buffaloes to meet domestic demand for jhol momos.
And, being a friendly neighbour, India declared its bordering states dry and prohibited the sale of alcohol. This has opened up new avenues to boost bilateral trade: Nepal imports petroleum from India, and in exchange Nepal smuggles out Old Smugglers. This means that Bihar is on the wagon, and Nepal is on the bandwagon.
However, the current method of retail smuggling of rum and vodka a bottle at a time is inefficient. Diesel tankers and LPG bullets are retuning empty to India, why not fill them up with premier brand Nepali spirits?
But if we are really serious about increasing exponentially the volume of the daru-for-diesel trade, we must extend the Indo-Nepal Petroleum Pipeline from Raxaul to Kathmandu.
That way, diesel, petrol and kerosene can be pumped up to Kathmandu’s gas stations, and at night, when no one is looking, we can send down vodka, gin, whisky and beer in the opposite direction to thirsty Bihar. The beauty of it is that we don’t even need to pump the booze — gravity will do it for us, thus reducing the overheads.