Following the precedence of Bihar in banning alcohol, it might now be the turn of Tamil Nadu to follow suit. The present Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu Jayalalitha who has a god like following in the state has promised complete prohibition of alcohol sale if her party is reelected to power.
Legally, every government is empowered to ban sale of liquor in its area of administration.
As per Article 41 of the constitution “…the State shall endeavour to bring about prohibition of the consumption except for medicinal purposes of intoxicating drinks and of drugs which are injurious to health”. This is a directive principle based on ideas of Mahatma Gandhi, who was totally against consumption of alcohol. In words of Gandhiji “…it is wrong and immoral for a nation to supply intoxicating liquor to those who are addicted to drink“.
It is true that alcohol is ruinous to not only an individual’s health but also his family. Alcohol consumers suffer from liver and heart diseases. For many poor households the alcohol addiction can be rather debilitating as their precarious daily wages get wasted in alcohol purchases. Often the male members of such households resort to abuse in their intoxicated state and this disturbs the harmony of the family. Such was the reason why Nitish Kumar government banned alcohol in the state of Bihar after much lobbying by the women’s associations.
As per a report by NGO Community Against Drunken Driving (CADD), 70% road accidents take place under state of intoxication. This is a serious fact considering the number of lives which are lost in such road accidents.
However, banning is not a practical solution to this issue. The prohibition era of USA portrays how such ban is not a feasible strategy. Rather, in the long run, banning alcohol facilitated the rise of notorious liquor Mafia such as Al capone in the country. Even in India, alcohol can be easily smuggled from neighbouring states into the dry state. In this process, the state will end up losing most of its revenue to its immediate neighbour.
— Gargi Rawat (@GargiRawat) April 7, 2016
Further, those who are addicted to alcohol need it at any cost. If states ban alcohol then chances of spurious alcohol being sold increases manifold due to lack of checking and gradation. In the past, we have seen how many lives were lost due to consumption of spurious hooch.
In such scenario, banning is just a stop gap arrangement or rather an easy way to implement policies. It is plain- sailing for political parties to make promises to various pressure groups in society to earn votes.
However, to ban is not the right method to go about. What is required at the moment is more rigorous plan of implementation. Increasing taxes of alcohol products to discourage consumption; effective check on production of spurious alcohol; more awareness about ill effects of alcoholism through media; empowerment of women who can check their husbands can be basic parameters of a feasible strategy.
I hope our politicians realise that a ban complicates the conditions rather than helping in finding a solution to a problem.