Banning Liquor - Impact on state and people

Banning Liquor - Impact on state and people

Question:-Mahatma Gandhi considered the liquor to be a social evil and encouraged the complete prohibition of alcohol in India. Site the examples of few states wherein the liquor prohibition has been implemented. What is the impact of banning the liquor on the state and people? What are the legal steps taken to prohibit the liquor in India?

Alcohol industry is one of the biggest industries in India and it is believed to bring in a lot of money and profits.

The World Health Organization 2014 reveals that around 50% of the alcohol consumed in India is unrecorded and is a part of non commercial activity. Rising alcohol consumption in few states has led to certain social problems. Alcohol abuse has become the most serious social problem in India.

According to the report by WHO, 6.2 % of the male deaths occur due to consumption of alcohol. The time has come to control the issue of alcohol consumption in most parts of the country.

Dry states – The consumption of alcohol is being prohibited in few parts of the country. In India, the prohibition exists in the states of Gujarat, Nagaland, parts of Manipur as well as parts of Lakshadweep. The state of Kerala also started the process of implementation and is on the path to become a dry state.

- Gujarat – The ban on consumption of alcohol in Gujarat is since 1961 as a tribute of Mahatma Gandhi. The ban of alcohol was a severe blow to the state as Gujarat was a developing region and it could have been in a better position after bringing the alcohol. The 16000 long coastline and the rich heritage of the state is unable to attract a lot of tourists with a ban on alcohol.

- Nagaland – The consumption of alcohol was banned in the Nagaland in the year 1989 under the Nagaland Liquor Total Prohibition Act. In 2014, around 500 illegal bars in Dimapur, the largest city of the state, were shut down.

- Manipur – The prohibition on consumption of alcohol was imposed in few parts of the state by R.K Ranbir Singh government. It came into effect from 1 April, 1991. Later on, the state legislative assembly passed the Manipur Liquor Prohibition Bill,2002 which lifted the prohibition in five districts of the state.

- Lakshadweep – The union territory of Lakshadweep has completely banned the consumption and sale of alcohol. The consumption of alcohol is permitted only in the island of Bangaram which is an inhabited island.

- Kerala – On August 21, 2014, the Chief Minister of Kerala announced that the state will implement the consumption of alcohol in the near future. The state will be turned into an alcohol free state within 10 years. Kerala is the India's largest consumer of alcohol. As the first step towards prohibition, around 418 bars in the state were forced to shut down.

Impact of banning the alcohol

A ban on the consumption of liquor has several impacts on the people as well as the state.

- Decline in Tourism – The ban on alcohol has a great impact on the number of foreigners visiting the country. During the year 2010 – 2011, around 27% foreigners visited Gujarat but it declined drastically by 5% in the year of 2011 – 2012. The tourism sector of Kerala is also largely affected by the ban on alcohol. A lot of corporate conferences which were planned to be organized in the state may be shifted to somewhere else.

- Unemployment – The ban on alcohol has generated the problem of unemployment among the local people. Tourists will not gather unless there is a flow of alcohol in the beach side resorts or shops. The decline in tourism has also left the local people unemployed. Apart from alcohol shops, other small restaurants or beach huts can be developed which can employ the local people. But it is noted that no investor wants to invest in developing a beach unless the prohibition has been lifted.

- Breaking of the Law – Most of the people in the dry states are convicted for breaking the liquor ban law. These people usually fall under the age of 18 – 25 years old. In Gujarat, around 86 – 90% males were convicted for breaking the liquor ban laws. Every year, around 61 to 68% of people held responsible for breaking the liquor ban law were the people of Gujarat.

- Loss of revenue – The sale of alcohol contributes to the economy of the state through the tax directly and through the tourism, indirectly. The State Excise in India is mainly imposed on the sale of liquor, which is commonly known as Liquor tax. The states like Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab earn a large portion of their revenue from the State Excise. Because of the ban in consumption of alcohol in dry states, they are regarded as a poor contributor.

- Reducing the number of accidents - Drunken driving and accidents are not so low in any of the dry states. Most of the truck drivers consume the country alcohol which is easily available. Half of the accidents are caused by the drunken drivers due to a lack of careful driving. But with a ban in consumption of alcohol, there has been a decline in the number of accidents. The drivers became more conscious regarding the pay of a large amount as fine if caught under heavy drunken condition.

- Preparation of home made liquor – Due to liquor ban, the people of the dry states were forced to prepare the home made liquor. In the year 2009, around 43 people died in the Western India due to the consumption of the home made liquor. Home made liquor is available in few parts of Kerala which is known as toddy. In Northern or Western parts of India, home made liquor is known as desidaru, which is mixed with pesticides or chemicals to increase the power.

Facts and Figures

- According to WHO, Kerala stands at first position in terms of alcohol consumption in India.

- In Kerala, an average of over 8 liters is being consumed by the individuals above the age of 15.

- Punjab stands at the second position with an average consumption of around 7.9 litres.

- The Manipur Liquor Prohibition Bill,2002 lifted the prohibition from five districts namely Chandel, Churachandpur, Senapati, Tamenglong and Ukhrul.
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