A red splotch here in the shape of a cloud. Another one there, with streaks ready to hit the centre of the earth. There is one more which seems to have fingers reaching out to grab something. Colourful abstracts made by their equally colourful masters will be a thing of the past in airplane loos if everyone decides to go the Vistara airlines’ way which has banned gutka on its flight. No aromatics too. Though it is still unclear what are the kind of fines, if any, that the airline will impose or whether it will seize sachets from errants, somebody needs to immediately adopt drastic measures at government offices, especially those at the local level.
And what of travellers at a bus stop or a railway station, who amuse themselves by competing on how far their colourful spit travels? Gutka is officially banned in Delhi, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra but it has never worked. A subterranean economy works by getting around the legalities of labelling and selling tobacco and betel nuts and cardamoms separately. Post the bans, most gutka manufacturers packaged the same mixture but without tobacco and gave a small packet containing just tobacco free. This innovation affected the purpose of the ban. Poor enforcement is another loophole. Without a central focussed ban, consuming products that are injurious to their health won’t stop in this country.