Dry days in God’s own Country

Cross posted at mutiny.

(This post is not to debate on the health issues as a result of alcohol consumption but yes, alcohol consumption is injurious to your health.)A long queue, thick crowd and a traffic block. Yes that’s a state owned liquor shop. Wish I had a photograph to prove it.On my visit to my home town in Kerala during Christmas I found this sight pretty amusing. Not that I am seeing it for the first time, but because of the anguish in the eyes of the people waiting in the queue.Ever since AK Antony (now Defence Minister) banned Arrack in 1996 and closed down all private owned liquor shops in the state, the ‘dry days’ for the people of Kerala had begun. At one end the move was to protect the interest of the families whose lives were ruined due to domestic violence. Looking at the other end of the story, we find more illegal arrack being smuggled into the state (or manufactured within the state) and heavy pricing on alcohol.The burden is on the lower middle class or the laborers who drink, has to shell out twice as what they had to earlier. Thanks to the 100% tax on alcohol. But did the consumption come down? No. Lesson learned? Increasing the prices do not reduce the consumption.Now if it’s any festival, you find people waiting in long queues to get themselves a bottle. Why can’t the government (any one of them, during their term) just give away with the regulations? Reason? Revenue. (Tax collected through the liquor sales was Rs. 15 billion in 2006; it is Rs.18 billion in 2007)

All government controlled liquor shops and bars are closed on 1st of every month. Reason? That’s the government’s way to control its citizen from spending all his salary on alcohol. If he needs to get himself a drink he is at the mercy of a watchman at the nearest Bar. (Bars sell liquor with their back door policy on dry days at extra charge.) End result? He would shell out more money on a dry day.All the regulations in place, Kerala still tops as the most liquor consuming state in India. Liquor sales in the state have gone up from Rs.20 billion in 2006 to Rs.23.11 billion in 2007. Kerala has the highest per capita liquor consumption in the country.

I can’t find any reason why the government shouldn’t take away the regulations. Well it’s not in interest of public health or welfare of families that the regulations are in place (then the government should regulate cigarettes as well). While people in other states enjoy the benefits of buying liquor from supermarkets, Kerala is still far behind, with government controlled liquor shops. The regulations if any should be uniform in all the states.While how consumption can be controlled is a different story all together, the government (s) have learned their lessons that these regulations just won’t help in reducing the number of consumers.

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2 comments

  1. […] can’t buy alcohol in Kerala on the 1st of any month. Ok, at least not […]

  2. A good comment over the ridiculus kerala government.

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