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28

Aug 2017

Rise of Alcohol in Post-Independence India

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Progress might not appear spotless on the eyes but it does come with a few chinks in its armour, without one shadow of a doubt. In the same vein, some so-called harmless evils have entered the fray ever since our country achieved its glorious independence back in the day. Why I say ‘so-called’ is because they don’t look ‘evil’; they’re perfect normal in today’s advanced day and age.

Intake of alcohol is one such facet, which if consumed without caution can turn into something drastic not only for the person in question but for the surroundings as well. Lets not beat around the bush anymore.

This is about the change of air pre and post independence putting alcohol intake under the microscope.

Top Brands Come Calling

According to a survey, sales are estimated to surpass 39 billion dollars this year; you heard that right! In a country of 1.2 billion individuals, India brings forth a massive market for any liquor brand to tap. No wonder big time juggernauts like Pernod Ricard and Diageo have expected big time growth from our country given the rising exposure of the youth population, improving economies and a change in the attitude towards alcohol; an influence of the western culture isn’t too far behind.

How It Used to Be

However, this is not how the tide always was. For many years after the nation gained its independence, there was a lot of chatter of alcohol prohibition altogether. Many governments came, many disappeared, but this remained a hot topic. Morarji Desai was one person who put his foot down and took a vow to curb alcohol intake within his tenure. This was the case in 1977 when he was acting as the Prime Minister of India. Such efforts time after time were all in vain though.

Money Talks

Why was it never curbed? Because alcohol brings in a whole lot of money. Period!

States gained millions and millions due to the sale of liquor and banning it never seemed profitable. Only idealists used to stir things up every now and then but after all that was said and done; at the end of the day, alcohol intake prevailed. It well and truly affects the numbers of a state; so much so, that it accounts for a quarter of the revenue for some states.

Alcohol – A Stigma Long Back

However, there was a time when alcohol was badly stigmatised. This thought was made even more concrete thanks to those classic Bollywood films back then; wherein they’ll always showcase an alcohol-savvy character whose life will plummet to destruction because of the sheer temptation of alcohol. It was men who did the drinking back then, sometimes covertly.

Alcohol Has Come Out of the Closet

With massive exposure, western influence, rise of social media, easy access, enhancement of average incomes, urge for a better lifestyle, social conventions and peer pressure; alcohol has well and truly come out of the closet. It is no more frowned upon; to an extent it has become a normality. Starting from high school kids, it has been labelled as something ‘cool’.

Rural Vs Urban

This ideology is yet to percolate throughout the entire society though. In rural areas, alcohol intake is mostly linked with degenerates; a major contributor to violence, poverty and ill behaviour against women.

Battle With the Bottle

How drastically times have changed though! Nowadays, individuals are suffering through massive dependency issues. They just don’t know how to quit as they struggle through withdrawal symptoms day in day out. As the lights go down and the glasses are up all high and nice and the music takes over; there’s next to no resistance that can be seen amongst the youth of the country.

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