One must have noticed a sudden spike in the number of calls for prohibition in the states, especially those up north, as more and more states seem to grapple with problems related to alcoholism and deaths from spurious alcohol consumption, Bihar was one of the first states to implement this ban on alcohol in a long time, adding it to the list that includes Gujarat, the birthplace of the father of our nation. Kerala has also refused to renew licenses for bars after 2014. But do these moves necessarily reflect the numbers and statistics? Let us try and shed some light on the actual figures that show us which states like their liquor the most.
To start off, it has been assessed by the World Health Organisation that an individual consumes about 6.2 litres of alcohol per year. Compared to the world average, the average Indian consumes about 4.3 litres of alcohol per year. This figure shoots up for rural areas, where an average individual consumes about 11.4 litres of alcohol in any form, per year. Moreover, about a third of India’s population consumes alcohol on a regular basis and 11% of the total number of Indians are moderate or heavy drinkers.
Now let us move to state wise consumption of alcohol, measured in consumption per capita, per week in millilitres. For Toddy and country liquor, Andhra Pradesh and Telengana have the highest levels of consumption which drops to the lowest levels in states like Jammu and Kashmir, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Gujarat (for obvious reasons). The consumption in these states are as low as 100 ml per capita per week. Levels of Toddy consumption have seen a sharp decline in the northern state of Bihar as well, which still ranks in the medium to average range (101 – 500 ml. per capita per week).
Moving on to Beer, imported wine and imported alcohol varieties, we see that Andhra Pradeshand Telangana still consume more than 300 ml. per capita, making those states the highest consumers in this category. Himachal Pradesh shows a sudden spike (101- 300 ml), and so do the north eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh and Mizoram and the islands of Andaman and Nicobar (>300 ml). Goa too, sees a high trend in this category, with the average between 101 and 300 ml per capita per week. The rest of the country remains quite conservative in their consumption trends of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) varieties.
Overall, it has been observed that the Union Territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Andhra Pradesh, Telengana, Daman and Diu, Sikkim and Pondicherry are among the highest consumers of spirits and alcohol varieties in India.
Now one of the reasons why there have been greater number of calls for bans on alcohol in certain areas is due to the fact that these regions suffer from chronic alcoholism and resultant poverty. The regular consumption of any variety of alcohol and especially country made liquor has also been found to be inversely proportional to family income, thus providing further evidence for this trend. Consumption of local brews and toddy is one of the major reasons for deaths in alcohol related incidents. In recent years, in 2009, about 136 people were killed in one single incident. In January 2015, in a village in eastern Maharashtra, 94 people lost their lives due to hooch liquor contamination and resulting toxicity. The states that have prohibition in place presently are:
Nagaland (since 1989), Manipur (since 1991, except the hill districts), Kerala (2014), Gujarat and Lakshadweep (on all islands except Bangaram).