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OP-ED: Why do we demonize clubs?

  • Published at 07:27 am June 26th, 2021
Alcohol confiscated from Salim

People want to stay together and identify themselves with one another. That’s human nature

Imagine a society without clubs. It would be a real interesting one. Would our world become a vice-free one? Many have a belief that if the clubs didn’t exist, the current practice of consuming alcohol and gambling would disappear overnight from the country, and each and every citizen would become morally upright and live happily ever after. 

“Abolish the clubs and you could free yourself from many sins that our religion and culture don’t allow!” 

That’s quite a funny notion. And the notion gets funnier when we see a few lawmakers excited about an incident that has happened in one of the clubs in Dhaka. One of them reportedly said: “We don’t know what actually goes on inside the clubs in Dhaka. We often see people gamble and drink alcohol. You require licenses to drink in this country.” He questioned whether we enforce the laws of the land inside the clubs. 

Yes, we don’t know; we’re not supposed to know what goes on inside the clubs. Simply because all clubs are meant for their members only. People pay money to become members of those clubs, and it is only they who can visit the clubs and seek facilities therein. 

A standard club in the country has facilities such as a gymnasium, a swimming pool, other indoor games and sports, a card room, restaurants, bars, banquet halls, etc. The members go to their clubs and pay to use these facilities. Above all else, the clubs are great venues to assemble, get together, have addas, and enjoy cultural functions. 

Now, you mustn’t claim that no one on Earth drank alcohol and played cards when there were no clubs. “Pasha khela” has been there in this part of the world perhaps since the beginning of history. And no matter how pure you were in your lifestyle, people have always been fermenting alcoholic beverages from various natural sources, and getting intoxicated. 

Don’t you see how modern-day cricketers and others fall victim to betting these days? Gambling is everywhere, not just inside the clubs. 

Yes, we agree. We can’t stay normal after a few alcoholic drinks, our thinking gets blurred, and we may become prone to misconduct, and may commit crimes. Now, if you compare alcoholic beverages with other drugs such as yaba or heroin, alcohol looks much safer. Now, you mustn’t consider me as a great promoter of alcohol. All I am trying to say is that preventing preparations or production and consumption of alcohol is simply not possible. 

If you visit a club that has an alcohol consumption facility, you will notice that more than 90% of the members aren’t drinkers. It’s only the small group of members who drink or sit in the bar. Most members use other facilities of the clubs.  

When we establish a club, we create a community. Birds of a feather flock together. This is so true. You must have seen how alumni of many educational institutions and workplaces have created clubs for themselves. 

You must have also seen that almost all countries have clubs for government officials. There are also clubs for people who belong to similar professions. 

This is not new. People want to stay together and identify themselves as belonging to a wider community. That’s human nature. 

We have an attitude to demonize clubs and that, I believe, is unfair. 

All the clubs in the country are also involved in corporate social responsibility activities. The club members mobilize funds for the poor, for flood-affected people, and of course, they have done a lot during this pandemic. The members also arrange money for the treatments of their fellow members with serious illness. 

Clubs mustn’t be considered only as the meeting venues of moneyed people. There are many clubs that follow the style of age-old gymkhanas with common people as their members. 

There’s a need to change our psychology about clubs. Negative aspects of anything will always be there as long as we have negative persons among us. And you cannot avoid the negative persons -- they are a reality, and we have to live with them also. On the other hand, there are plenty of positive deeds that are achieved by clubs and their members. 

We, sometimes, need to highlight those positive deeds. We may think of changing our narrative.

Ekram Kabir is a yogi, a story-teller, and a communications professional. His other works are available on ekramkabir.com.

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