The April 1 ban on alcohol in Bihar saw the region politicise the 1915 Act, only to be further tightened by the government making the state an entirely dry state, similar to Gujarat. The new law has pretty stringent penal provisions going as far as death penalty to manufacturers, suppliers and sellers of hooch in case of death as a result of consumption of spurious liquor.
The decision was received with mixed emotions as some laughed at Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar's hypocrisy, (he had sought to increase revenues through a new excise policy that took liquor to villages in 2007), while other leaders, including the CM of Jharkhand were inspired enough to follow in his footsteps. But mostly, the move is considered as a pre-election stunt as Nitish Kumar plans to woo women voters with the promised ban on hooch and other forms of intoxication. As the country debates on the pros and the cons of the prohibition, Asian Voice and Gujarat Samachar did its own research, asking the experts to give their own two cents on the issue.
Former Gujarat State Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment,
President, 'Adarsh Mahila Samaj'
“If the ban, the law that bans liquor from the state is lawfully and strongly imposed, only then will it conceive the desired outcome. Gujarat has been a dry state for years, still, residents consume alcohol illegally. This is the result of a lack of proper action. The ban on alcohol prominently affects the lives of women and children, in a country where a major chunk of the society still deems women as a weak sex. An alcoholic husband often disrupts a family, both mentally and financially. However, women are growing aware, especially we have seen in Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Haryana, where the fairer gender took initiatives against the repercussions of alcoholism. What I believe is that as long as a set law is not hampered with, it stands on the path of proper consequences.”
“We have saved teenagers and other young people who do not want to get into this. It is a win-win situation. Right from the beginning, every state, after independence, that opted for prohibition, was allocated a special permission by the central government, to have an additional sales tax to compensate for the revenue loss due to the excise on liquor. Now, when such a good measure is being brought, it is the responsibility of the state and the society to establish de-addiction and rehabilitation centres. Let us make an honest attempt! Majority of the poor section of the population that get into the habit, do not limit themselves to a certain quantity. Unfortunately, in this liberalised system, everything is being legitimised. The people are going to seek, which is why, it is the society's duty to correct them.”
“The Bihar liquor ban imposed by the Nitish Kumar government is a reflection of his functioning towards women welfare. The measure will mostly curb domestic violence, rape, and the exploitation of women. However, a flip side to this is that those addicted to the habit will move on to spurious sources. Withdrawal symptoms are already getting the better of the people. Also, the sudden prohibition is most likely to prompt a rise in the crime rates of the region, including illegal import/export of alcohol. Unless and until the government itself takes the law seriously, the only difference the liquor ban will make is that alcohol would not be sold in the open.”
“My NGO 'Sewa' and I are quite happy with the ruling given by the Bihar state government. Sewa works for social causes in several states, and Bihar is one of them. The women in the region are often subjected to violence, more or less triggered by alcohol. Sewa had submitted an agenda to the Bihar government, for social welfare, and prohibition of liquor was one of the points mentioned. Children who grow up in the house of an addict are more often than not, on the way to self-destruction.”
Dr Neeta Goswami
“As a Parkinson's expert, I commend the prohibition. Consumption of alcohol is destructive to the sick and the healthy, alike. Liquor damages the nerves in the brain which provokes chances of Parkinson's disease in a person. Not only health-wise, the prohibition is also good news for social welfare. States that ban alcohol will witness peace and a general air of safety in their region.”
Prohibition of liquor in Bihar is a decision welcomed by most of us. Following the one crucial step that Gujarat took years ago, other states' decision to declare themselves a 'dry state' comes in favour of the social capital. Alcoholism has often caused problems in families. The worst hit is the proletariat. Gandhiji had stressed on the use of alcohol in Gujarat, which is why, the state banned the substance. Now, as other governments too implement the rule, our country seems to be on a guaranteed path to success.
A person under the influence of alcohol does whatever he pleases, mostly criminal activities. A ban on liquor imposed in any region is for the right. Yes, those who are addicted to the intoxicating drink will and have suffered from withdrawal symptoms and face severe physical consequences, which is why, what the administration can do is announce its decision at least six months prior to their implementation, which will give the addicts ample time to quit.