Saturday, August 23, 2014

Kerala aims to be Gujarat (2025)

....The Congress-led United Democratic Front government, proposed to make Kerala alcohol-free in 10 years.....The cabinet has also decided to shut down 700 bars by cancelling their bar license.....from April 1, 2015, only five star hotels will be granted bar licenses....Apart from the existing dry days, which include the first day of every month, all Sundays would be dry days...
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The first question that came to our mind: will no one think of the tourists? Not all tourists stay in 5-star accommodations (which will also run dry in 10 years).

And shock horror!!! We hear the proud denizens of Tamizh Nadu making unheard of demands: why cant we be like Mallus (and...Gujjus...more shock horror)?

There are liberal and conservative arguments for prohibition (and liberal arguments in opposition). Then you have blood-less economists who will focus on jobs and tax revenue- bars with dancing girls generate well paying jobs and huge money for the exchequer.

The push for a ban-on-bars is also a tale of women vs. women:  women in low-income families have long complained of husbands wasting their pay-packets on evil women (and the devil drink). This was the argument that convinced Maharashtra govt to shut down girls in bars. Many girls (primarily from Eastern India, Nepal, and Bangladesh) were then forced to become prostitutes.

The bigger argument is about full-on prohibition of drinking and here there is a morality play (backed by the religious lobby) as well as a public health one (doctors are for it). It is well known that prohibition failed in the USA, we have just not learned the lessons well enough.
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We have mixed feelings about this- we are not fond of drinking but we dislike prohibition even more. A colleague is getting married in September. Her dad passed away few years back (due to excess drinking). The responsibility now falls on her Mama (uncle) to give her away. Recently Mama-ji has been diagnosed with liver cancer as well as cirrhosis (scarring). One would think that he would feel guilty and stop but that is not the case. Instead - since he has only weeks to live - he wants to drink to his heart's content. The girl is in a state of shock and all she can say is "men do not listen."

When we asked if religious affiliation makes any difference she said no. Her paternal side (Christian) and maternal side (Hindu) are equally robust drinkers. Now women have also joined in enthusiastically. Muslims drink almost as much as anybody else.

Prohibiting drinking is not going to make health problems go away....people will drink illicit stuff...poisonous stuff that has killed hundreds in Gujarat. Society needs to change via persuasion (and yes, men will have to start to listen) and not prohibition. 
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India’s highest consumer of alcohol, Kerala, may soon become a dry state. The Congress-led United Democratic Front government, proposed to make Kerala alcohol-free in 10 years.

The cabinet has also decided to shut down 700 bars by cancelling their bar license.
The decisions will be formally recommended to the Chandy Cabinet to act upon and from April 1, 2015, only five star hotels will be granted bar licenses.
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Apart from the existing dry days, which include the first day of every month, all Sundays would be dry days in the state, taking the total liquor holidays to a minimum of 52 a year.
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The state has also decided to reduce the outlets of the government-owned Beverage Corporation, the sole retail distributor of Indian made foreign liquor in Kerala, by 10 percent every year.
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The Kerala State Beverages Corporation (KSBC) is the sole wholesaler of liquor and beer, which is sold through 708 hotel bars and 383 state-owned retail outlets. Sales of liquor zoomed past Rs.9000 crore in value terms last fiscal and contribution to the state exchequer by way of taxes was Rs.6,830 crore.

Rum reigns as the No.1 choice of tipplers, accounting for more than 55 percent of the liquor sold, followed by brandy with a close to 40 percent share. Vodka sales are at four percent. Gin, whiskey and wine together account for a just one percent share.
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A study by a doctor at a leading hospital in the state said he has at least three new patients coming to him every month with alcohol-related liver diseases and pointed out that those in the 37-45 in the age group with liquor-related diseases will go up drastically in a few years' time
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PMK founder S. Ramadoss flummoxed his critics on Thursday, urging the Tamil Nadu government to emulate the Kerala model to either clamp prohibition in one stroke or usher it in phases.


In a statement here, he said Tamil Nadu was expressing its inability to implement prohibition arguing that it was not feasible when the measure was not enforced in the neighbouring States. But, Kerala was moving towards prohibition in phases.


Pointing out that Kerala had 383 liquor outlets and 752 bars (permit rooms), Dr. Ramadoss said that in one move, the government closed 418 bars. Then, it shut down 18 bars and 45 liquor stores. 

Quoting Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee president V.M. Sudheeran, Dr. Ramadoss said the Oomen Chandy government was striving for total prohibition ahead of the 2016 Assembly polls.


Appreciating Kerala’s steps to protect its people from the ill-effects of alcohol, Dr. Ramadoss, citing the Kerala State Crime Records Bureau statistics, said the closure of bars had brought down the rate of crimes by 15 per cent and the number of road accidents by 10 per cent. Even sexual offences and crimes against women had come down.


Contrary to such trends, Tamil Nadu was opening more liquor, beer and Tasmac outlets, Dr. Ramadoss said. This resulted in the crime rate soaring and increasing concerns over the safety of women and children.
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Link (1): kerala-to-completely-ban-alcohol-by-2025

Link (2): pmk-founder-s-ramadoss-tn-to-take-cue-from-kerala-in-antiliquor-drive

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regards