Alcohol and drug-awareness group, political leaders and women activists worried: Increased alcoholism in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh

“Tribal cultures the world over are intricately linked with the forests they live in. The story, or should wie call it the ‘history’ of modern civilization, is largely one of the taming and destroying the great forests of the world and the innumerable tribal communities that lived therein. […] Vices like alcoholism were introduced; the addiction is now used by the settlers to exploit resources from the forests.” – Pankaj Sekhsaria in Islands in Flux: The Andaman and Nicobar Story (Harper Litmus, 2017), pp. 5-7

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What’s the price of the ‘right’ to alcohol?

By Mari Marcel Thekaekara, New Internationalist, March 8, 2013

While successive governments have patted themselves on their backs, each claiming credit for our galloping economy, India refuses to talk about the enormous social costs to our communities. Alcoholism and drug abuse are at their peak. In the past, many of our village communities used ganja recreationally, the way people in the West might have an evening beer. The ganja was taken in moderation, to ease aches and pains, to relax after a tiring day.

But in the last decade, governments have taken over the alcohol business by handing out dealerships. They do it because it rakes in the revenue. The price paid by society, particularly women and children, in terms of alcohol-related domestic violence, poverty caused by men drinking away entire incomes, or health issues have been ignored in spite of dire warnings by a few vigilant and concerned individuals. […]

A new anti-alcohol movement has begun our district, the Nilgiris. It’s about time. All over Tamil Nadu, we see men lying in gutters in a drunken stupor. It demeans them, destroys them. It drags their families into abject poverty. No good comes of it because this is not social drinking. It’s the same in most parts of India.

Many rape cases (though by no means all), especially the now common gang-rape cases, are caused by men who are drunk. The infamous and tragic Nirbhaya rape was committed by a gang of drunken men. Popular Bollywood and regional films link alcohol and sex in a particularly repugnant, machismo message. More sophisticated, whisky and vodka ads in glossy, expensive magazines send out much the same message. Read more >>

Source: What’s the price of the ‘right’ to alcohol? — New Internationalist
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Rum, rum everywhere […]

The Economist, March 1st 2013

Perhaps surprisingly, sleepy Kerala is India’s booziest state. It gets through 8.3 litres (15 pints) of alcoholic drinks per person per year, according to a 2008 report by Johnson Edayaranmula, the director of a national alcohol and drug-awareness group based in the state capital, Thiruvananthapuram. Punjabis, often stereotyped as India’s party animals, came second with 7.9 litres. The national average was 5.7 litres. A 2011 report by one of India’s largest trade bodies similarly found that  Kerala accounted for 16% of national alcohol sales, the largest proportion of any state. Mr Edayaranmula warns that all data must be approached with caution, given the prevalence of illicit sales. Yet, even if those were included, he is confident that Kerala would remain in first place. […]

Home-made spirits such as arrack and toddy, made from fermented coconut water or palm tree sap, have long been part of Kerala’s culture. Yet Keralites say today’s widespread binge-drinking, driven by commercially brewed liquor bought in bars and shops, is a modern phenomenon. Since the 1980s, Keralite men have been going to the Persian Gulf en masse for work and sending home large pay packets. Periods under a Communist-led coalition government and strong trade unions have deterred many industries that could have created jobs at home. Many emigrant workers then retire early, coming home to a quiet state where there is little to do. […]

The politicians, while keen to clamp down, are in a bind. The Kerala State Beverages Corporation, a state-owned monopoly that controls all liquor shops and  wholesale booze sales to bars, is booming. KSBC’s taxes contributed over $1.2bn to Kerala’s coffers in 2011-12, accounting for a fifth of the state’s overall revenues. Kerala’s three fellow southern states–Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh–have similar monopolies. […]

Source: Drinking in Kerala: Rum, rum everywhere | The Economist
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Board raising awareness on ill-effects of alcoholism

The Hindu, Udupi, March 9, 2013

K. Sachidananada Hegde, Chairman of Karnataka State Temperance Board, said on Friday that the KSTB was giving importance to creating awareness on the ill-effects of alcoholism.

Mr. Hegde told presspersons here that the bureaucracy in the State wanted alcoholic beverages to stay in the market as their consumption generated a revenue of Rs. 12,000 crore per annum. But according to a survey the loss due to alcohol consumption and its related problems is double that of the revenue generated. The Board is conducting a study on the crimes that are taking place due to alcohol consumption, he said.

Source: ‘Board raising awareness on ill-effects of alcoholism’ – The Hindu
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