ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

A+| A| A-

For a Comprehensive Liquor Policy

To Drink or Not to Drink—Is Not the Question!

Prohibition resurfaced as a major political issue, with the December 2016 Supreme Court judgment banning liquor sales within 500 metres of highways to counter drunken driving. However, the issue of alcoholism is complex and requires the framing of a comprehensive liquor policy that regulates, rehabilitates, and refocuses on the importance of awareness creation.

The past few years have seen the resurgence of the spectre of prohibition and alcoholism in not only the political sphere but also the judicial one. Prohibition was the major electoral issue that dominated the Bihar (2015), Kerala (2015), and Tamil Nadu (2016) assembly elections. This was followed by the historic December 2016 Supreme Court judgment banning the sale of all liquor within 500 metres of highways to counter drunken driving. While prohibition as an electoral promise has been tried time and again by the state governments in the post-independence period, the blanket ban by the Supreme Court betrays a moral overtone rather than a solely judicial rationale. Neither the imposition of prohibition nor the ban on the sale of liquor within 500 metres of highways is likely to have a serious impact on problems associated with alcoholism and drunken driving. The principal reason why such initiatives are likely to fail is because they seem to be based on the simplistic assumption that cutting off the supply impacts effective demand for alcohol. The issue of alcoholism is much more complex and requires a multipronged approach through the framing of a comprehensive liquor policy that regulates, rehabilitates, and refocuses on the importance of awareness creation.

Hamlet’s existential dilemma, albeit in a different form, has haunted liberal democracies of the world for over a century—whether to allow or not to allow its citizens to drink alcohol. India continues to be caught within this either–or trap. States in India have repeatedly experimented with prohibition in some form or the other without much success. However, the promise of prohibition as an electoral lure still holds sway with Kerala and Bihar, with political parties in Tamil Nadu joining the bandwagon of the prohibition brigade more recently. Historical evidence strongly points to the fact that prohibition is ineffective in both controlling and/or preventing alcohol consumption, often with deleterious effects.

Dear reader,

To continue reading, become a subscriber.

Explore our attractive subscription offers.

Click here

Updated On : 22nd Jan, 2018

Comments

(-) Hide

EPW looks forward to your comments. Please note that comments are moderated as per our comments policy. They may take some time to appear. A comment, if suitable, may be selected for publication in the Letters pages of EPW.

Back to Top