- Prohibition generally refers to alcohol prohibition in our country which is in force in the states of Bihar, Gujarat, Mizoram, Nagaland as well as in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep. Prohibition is also imposed in some areas of Manipur. Every other Indian state and union territories permit the sale of alcohol. Paradoxical it might sound, though consumption of alcohol is widely dissuaded for its known ill-effects on the personal health as well as society’s general good all around, no denying the fact that revenue generated out of excise sale is humongous driving the economy in a very big way.
- Many legends/stories are abounding about alcohol consumption – some colourfully fascinating, dreadfully vile, scornfully pejorative, and morally corrupt – finding detailed mention and place in no less than our revered ancient scriptures and epics depicting the sordid happenstances around the fizzy beverage. This being the case, the jury is still out as to how effective the outcome is whilst implementing curbing of consumption with a profound belief that many of society’s evils originate from uncontrolled indulgences. Scores of patrons would vouch that alcohol consumption is also considered as one of the much sought after means available for relaxation and entertainment. Opposite but valid viewpoints.
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- Unlike western culture, our country primarily views alcohol consumption as a sinful practice and an avoidable luxury vehemently opposed by the womenfolk owing to extreme poverty. The reason is quite clear for a poor family whose primary aim is to ensure two-full square meals on the table cannot afford to indulge in consumption irresponsibly. Thus, precious earnings wasted in an extravagant indulgence is a strict no-no. Conversely, poverty-ridden menfolk are so horribly addicted to alcoholism that they do not mind spending their hard-earned money’s on liquor to experience a high much against the wishes of womenfolk.
- Trust our politicians to fish in troubled waters by sensing an opportunity to score brownie points and consolidate prospective vote bank of equally strong women community, specifically from rural, illiterate, and poor background, by winning over them with promises of introducing prohibition. The gambit does work striking a chord amongst the women during electioneering usually garnering widespread support for the move.It is another matter altogether as official banning does not preclude addicted men from laying hands on illegally traded liquor as well as illicitly produced spurious hooch to quench thirst/craving.
- No wonder, frequently occurring hooch tragedies not only snuffs lives out of the addicted people but also renders the dependent families without a bread-earning member exacerbating their hardships manifolds. Ask any economist or financial expert, he/she will vouch that excise revenue generated sustains the state exchequer to a great extent. You see, it’s a double-edged sword that is at play. Prohibiting alcohol not only severely dents revenue generation but also constricts the administration from allocating resources to developmental agenda in the absence of steady inflow. It’s a classic conflict of vile against necessity.
- Understand that Habits such as drinking cannot be stamped out by regulatory diktats.Moral policing of any kind does not sync with the modern narrative as it only helps in enabling the proliferation of criminal activities and illegal trading at a great loss to the exchequer. No state including Gujarat has succeeded in curbing the loss owing to a failed policy and hence, should be discarded for good. Note that an important cause of corruption and poverty in India is the propagation of impractical and draconian laws. Make no mistake, laws imposing prohibition fall in this category. Policymakers should embrace the pragmatic approach.