General Studies Paper 1 (Indian Society): Universal ban on liquor

Universal Liquor Ban

IAS Junior Mains Answer Writing June-Sep 2019 Schedule (Click Here)

 

Syllabus: General Studies Paper 1 (Indian Society)

 

Universal ban on liquor can solve many social evils and improve the status of women and children. Critically Examine.

 

Introduction:

Each and every  Government bodies, which were set up on this earth  from past have been evolving since the origin of man. May it be the village head during ancient times, kingship model during medieval times and democratic model of present time. They have been transforming till date to provide the overall welfare of the people. Bihar government have failed to address this model of overall development. Recent Banning of liquor by Bihar government  reduced the alcohol consumption, but it gave way to many other social problems. Kerala government in 2017 decided to lift ban on liquor due to increase in bootlegging, revenue loss and unemployment. Prohibition has not succeeded anywhere in the world, it only increased illegal means to do drugs, bootlegging etc

 

Body:

A state which announces total ban of alcohol is signalling genuine interest in eradicating the menace of alcoholism from the state. Recently Bihar government has seen positive results Positive Results by Banning of Liquor .In the initial months of prohibition in the US, there was a 30% drop in alcohol consumption and decline in arrests for drunkenness.

Positive effects of banning liquor:

  • Reduced crime and corruption
    • Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI) report on prohibition in Bihar noted there was a 66.6% dip in cases of kidnapping for ransom, followed by 28.3% dip in murder cases and 2.3% in dacoity.
  • Reduces state’s expenditure spent on public health and law & order.
  • Improve health and hygiene
    • ADRI report finds an impressive rise in sale of honey (380%), cheese (200%), buttermilk (40%), flavoured milk (28.4%) and lassi (19.7%).
  • Bring positive impact on women and families
    • ADRI report observed that 58% women feel they were given more respect and played a better role in making household decisions.
  • Prohibition helps money to get directed towards health and education in family. It paves way for development
    • ADRI found that prohibition is making people of Bihar spend more on good clothes and food.

Negative impacts of banning liquor:

  • 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.
  • Breaking of the Law
    • Most of the people in the 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 the states, they are regarded as a poor contributor.
  • Preparation of homemade liquor
    • Due to liquor ban, the people of the dry states were forced to prepare the homemade liquor. In the year 2009, around 43 people died in the Western India due to the consumption of the homemade liquor. Homemade liquor is available in few parts of Kerala which is known as toddy. In Northern or Western parts of India, homemade liquor is known as desidaru, which is mixed with pesticides or chemicals to increase the power. 
  • As soon as prohibition was announced, whether it was in the US or in Gujarat or in Meghalaya, the liquor trade moved underground. As the underworld which now took over the business got more and more organized, the consumption levels went back to original levels and new problems like spurious liquor, gang wars and sale of other narcotic substances increased. 

 

Way ahead:

When any social problem becomes more of an individual action in a private space, the ability of the government to intervene to solve the problem becomes more difficult.

  • Bans don’t solve any behavioral problems. We need to develop new strategies to deal with various social evils
  • Portugal take a unique approach to dealing with the drug menace. One of the key aspects of the strategy was that Portugal decriminalized the possession of all drugs in 2001, everything from marijuana to heroin. By this masterstroke the authorities made sure that the problem was not driven underground.
  • The new strategy should be focused on the individual liquor user.  Conduct motivational counselling to opiate substitution therapy.
  • Increasing the social cost of alcoholism

Government should come down heavily on the public consequences of drinking. For example, the problem of drunken driving needs to be dealt with far more severely. Accidents that happen because of driving under the influence of alcohol should be treated with far tougher punishment that what exists today. So, the message should go out loud and clear that the larger society is averse to having any interaction with a drinker.

  • Increasing the emotional cost of alcoholism

The problem of alcoholism can be solved to a large extent if more and more fathers develop an emotion of strong guilt around their drinking habits. As the emotion of guilt associated with alcoholism is increased, higher will be the tendency of a drinker to get out of this habit.

  • Reforms need proper social engineering. All the stakeholders like Panchayats, consumers, manufacturers, carriers, schools, among many others, have to be made part of such a social movement
  • Alcoholism is an individual’s problem and it occurs in a personal space. So, to solve the alcoholism problem, it is the individual who has to take the maximum responsibility. The state can at best facilitate that process

 

Conclusion:

In the short term, some of the bans do show positive results. But long run banning leads to many other illegal means like drugs smugglers, bootlegging. There should be a policy, which can address the overall crisis and try to solve the issue from its root. We need more political, economic, social thinkers involved in issues as such and give their recommendations to solve these problems. Alcoholism is an individual’s problem and it occurs in a personal space. So, to solve the alcoholism problem, it is the individual who has to take the maximum responsibility. The state can at best facilitate that process. 

 

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