BHOPAL -- What would you generally gift a newly-married couple? A Madhya Pradesh minister decided on an unusual present -- a 'mogri' or a wooden bat-- for nearly 700 brides at a mass marriage ceremony.
While the mogri is traditionally used to wash clothes, the minister has advised the brides to use it on their husbands if they turn alcoholic or harass them and refuse to mend their ways.
The gifted mogri even bears the caption 'sharabiyon ke sutara hetu bhent, police nahi bolegi' (gift for beating drunkards, police will not intervene).
Gopal Bhargava, the state minister of panchayati raj and rural development, gifted the bats to nearly 700 brides during a mass marriage ceremony solemnised on the auspicious occasion of Akshaya Tritiya yesterday in his home town Garhakota in Sagar district.
While others will be flummoxed by the uncommon gift, the minister says women from the region often meet him to complain about their alcoholic husbands and he felt it was an apt present.
"Whenever I visit any rural or urban area in my constituency, women complain about their husband's drinking habit. They inform me that whatever little they earn is snatched away by their husband for alcohol. They (women) are also subjected to physical violence," Bhargava told on Sunday.
"The idea of gifting mogri struck me when a woman asked me whether she should get her husband to stop drinking by beating him with this wooden plank," the minister said.
So he ordered 10,000 bats to be gifted to women "suffering at the hands of their alcoholic husbands".
The minister sees nothing wrong in it and feels that it a step towards bringing social change, which is necessary to deal with the menace of alcoholism.
"The government or police alone would not be able to solve this problem. For this, people have to come forward. There are many examples in history which show that when masses intervene, things have changed for the better."
Sale of illegal liquor in every state is a major issue. Unless people come forward to deal with it, things won't improve, Bhargava said.
The minister in the BJP government urged the women to first have a word with their husbands and make them understand the ill effects of drinking and if they don't listen, then let the mogri do the talking.
Bhargava, who has been organising mass marriages for quite some time now, also asked the brides to plant saplings and stop all illegal activities in their villages. He asked them to ensure that their children get proper education.
"An atmosphere is being created in the entire state against liquor but people need to be educated on the issue. It is essential before declaring prohibition," he added.
ALSO ON HUFFPOST: