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

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Alcoholism beyond Moral Purview

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The article “To Drink or Not to Drink—Is Not the Question! For a Comprehensive Liquor Policy” by Kripa Ananthpur (EPW, 20 January 2018) aptly questions liquor prohibition by highlighting some ground realities linked to it. In India, liquor is not just a consumption product which is harmful to health and thus needs to be banned; rather, it involves a plethora of related notions and idiosyncrasies. Even political parties deal with alcoholism only superficially, by limiting themselves to endorsing a ban on alcohol. However, enacting laws may not be the only solution. Drinking as a social practice has its own caste, class and gender dimensions, with each of these having their own social implications.

There is a need for a prohibition act which not only encompasses the practical implications of such a ban, but also has different clauses for different classes. Ananthpur rightly argues that because of the shame factor associated with drinking, those battling alcohol-related problems develop a sense of isolation. Rather than dealing with this issue on moral grounds, there is a need to turn the “feeling of shame” attached to alcoholism, into awareness. The government often uses liquor pricing as an easy step to control drinking habits, without considering the fact that this adversely affects the poor. Rising liquor prices do not deter upper classes, but weaker sections risk their lives by seeking cheaper alternatives in the form of spurious liquor. The root of the problem is that drinking is defined more as sin in India than as a health hazard. This is why government policies focus on banning it overnight, rather than curbing it through a multistage process.

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Updated On : 25th Jan, 2018
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