११ प्रतिशत भारतीय बेवड़े यानी जयदा पीते है
Last year, in 2014, the World Health Organization or the WHO released its Global Status report on Alcohol and Health. According to the report, about 38.3 percent of the world’s population is reported to consume alcohol regularly. On an average an individual consumption amounts to 6.2 litres of alcohol each year. The report only considers individuals over 15 years of age.
The report says that about 30 percent of India’s population, just less than a third of the country’s populace – consumed alcohol regularly (as of 2010). Some 11 percent are moderate to heavy drinkers. The average Indian consumes about 4.3 litres of alcohol per annum, says the report. The rural average is much higher at about 11.4 liters a year.
According to an Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report released in May 2015, alcoholism increased by about 55 percent between 1992 and 2012. It is a quickly rising concern among the youth of the country.
State-wise Alcohol Consumption
State-wise alcohol consumption per capita per week (in ml) as of 2011-12
Toddy and Country Liquor
Beer, Imported Alcohol, Wine
Andaman & Nicobar Island
Dadra & Nagar Haveli
Daman & Diu
Jammu & Kashmir
Source – National Sample Survey Office (The Hindu news report)
Note: Prohibition has been lifted in Mizoram and imposed in Kerala since the survey. Also Andhra Pradesh has split into Andhra Pradesh and Telengana since.
Dadra & Nagar Haveli, Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Daman & Diu, Sikkim, and, Puducherry are clearly among the highest consumers of alcohol and spirits in the country.
Alcohol and Major Concerns
Alcohol related deaths and deaths caused by diseases due to alcoholism are a major cause for concern in the country. In 2012 alone about 3.3 million deaths in India were attributed to alcohol consumption. This amounts to some 5.9 percent of the global deaths that year.
Most doctors and health agencies have repeatedly warned Indians of the disastrous health effects of alcohol consumption. Alcoholism is one of the leading causes of liver cirrhosis and failure. About 10 percent of strokes, tuberculosis, hypertension, and epilepsy are caused by excess alcohol consumption.
On the WHO’s ‘Years of Life Lost’ (YLL) scale – a measure of premature mortality – alcohol attributed years of life lost puts India on a precarious 4 on a scale of 1 to 5. This simply means that a large number of people from India lose their lives early due to alcohol consumption and its fallouts.
Apart from the health concerns, chronic alcoholism is one of the greatest causes for poverty in the country. According to various studies, men – primary bread earners – are 10 times more likely to report alcohol abuse in the country. The regular consumption of alcohol is also inversely proportional to the family income. This means that consumption increases significantly with diminishing income.
Consumption of local brews and toddy is a major health risk for Indians, especially those from the lower economic groups. Manufacture, sale, and intake of toxic homemade liquor brewed with dangerous ingredients takes a number of lives each year. In 2009, in Gujarat about 136 lives were lost in one single incident. The state then came up with the death penalty for selling such ‘country liquor’. Earlier this year, in January 2015, about 94 people lost their lives due to consumption of toxic liquor in Maharashtra.
Consumption of alcohol is a social taboo in most parts of India. While Islam as a religion does prohibit the consumption of alcohol, and Hinduism mentions it as one of the moral evils, alcoholism in India is linked more with the economic and family circumstances than with religious dictates.
Alcohol Ban and Prohibition
Although alcohol is freely available in most part of India, some states and Union Territories in the country have various forms of alcohol bans in force. Alcohol prohibition is currently in force in Gujarat, Kerala, Lakshadweep, Manipur, and Nagaland.
Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Mizoram, and Tamil Nadu had previously imposed alcohol bans but were forced to withdraw the prohibition.
Gujarat – One of the first states of India to have a no alcohol policy, the state bans the manufacture, storage, sale, and consumption of alcohol. Foreigners are allowed to obtain alcohol permits valid for a month. Gujarat’s policy has promoted active alcohol trade in nearing regions such as Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Goa, and Diu.
Kerala – Amidst much outrage, the government of Kerala announced plans to go ahead with alcohol prohibition in phases in August 2014. Starting March 2014, alcohol licenses of bars and shops were not renewed but toddy is still sold widely. This ban came as a surprise for two reasons. Firstly, Kerala is among the highest alcohol consuming states in the country and secondly, about 22 percent of Kerala government’s revenue gains (approximately INR 8000 crore) was reported to have come from alcohol manufacturing and sale licenses.
Lakshadweep – Alcohol consumption is prohibited on all the islands of Lakshadweep, except on Bangaram.
Manipur – Manipur government banned the sale of alcohol in the state in April 1991. The ban did not do much to curb alcoholism in the state and local brews are widely available. In 2002, the five hill districts of the state were exempt from prohibition, adding about INR 50 crore to the government’s exchequer. As of July 2015, the government is considering a total lift of the ban.
Nagaland – Sale and consumption of alcohol has been prohibited in the state of Nagaland since 1989. Illegal sale and trade of local brews, however, are thriving businesses. As of 2014, the government had initiated discussions about lifting the ban.
Most Indian states and Union Territories observe Dry Days – days when the sale of alcohol is banned. Consumption of alcohol in public restaurants and eateries is prohibited while people may drink in the privacy of their homes. Republic Day (January 26), Independence Day (August 15), and Gandhi Jayanti (October 2) are commonly observed Dry Days across the country. Apart from these, major festival days of the state are usually Dry Days. A number of states also observe regular Dry Days such as the first day of the month etc. The days preceding or following the state/national election are also usually Dry Days.