Saturday, March 25, 2023
HomeTalk PointCurb on liquor sale: BJP-RSS conservatism or has medical reasons?

Curb on liquor sale: BJP-RSS conservatism or has medical reasons?

The liquor lobby in India has demanded that states allow the sale of alcohol outside the containment zones with strict social distancing guidelines in place.

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The liquor lobby in India has demanded that states allow the sale of alcohol outside the containment zones with strict social distancing guidelines in place. In a sign that even states want sales to resume, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh requested the Modi government to lift the ban. But the Home Ministry has asserted that liquor shops will stay shut. States generate a big chunk in revenues from taxing liquor and the corona crisis has left them cash-strapped.

ThePrint: Curb on liquor sale: BJP-RSS conservatism or has medical reasons?

Opening liquor shops will increase the chances of coronavirus infection spread

Swadesh Singh
Assistant professor, Delhi University

In normal times, we have seen long queues in front of the liquor shops in different cities ranging from metros to tier-III cities. People buy from these shops and many consume the alcohol right outside them. On most occasions, the local police have found it difficult to disperse them. These people, in their inebriated condition, also get involved in scuffling and violence with police and other people for no definite reason. This leads to unnecessary chaos and sometimes, the authorities find it difficult to manage such a situation. Incidents of drunk driving, accidents, and domestic violence have a close connection with liquor sales. Local thekas in smaller cities, towns and villages only add to the problem.

At present, the country is fighting an unknown enemy. States are definitely facing losses from excise duty but they should not come under the pressure of any liquor lobby to open wine shops. Opening them will only increase the chances of people getting affected by the coronavirus. This will cause insurmountable damage to the benefits accrued through the Covid-19 lockdown. It will burden the police, doctors and sanitation workers with additional work. If the government allows liquor shops to be opened in metro cities, then all the shopkeepers will demand the same for their shops, both in rural and urban centres. We should analyse this situation holistically and not look at it from the prism of metro cities only.

Curb on liquor sale during Covid-19 lockdown is leading to stress and self-harm

Indranil Mukhopadhyay
Associate Professor, Jindal School of Government and Public Policy and member, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan

Alcohol consumption should not be debated through a moral lens but rather as a public health concern. Existing evidence indicates that any consumption of alcohol, however modest, is bad for health.

But, if we look at the people dependent on alcohol and experiencing withdrawal symptoms during the Covid-19 lockdown, the mental health aspect comes in. We saw this earlier this month in Kerala, where seven people committed suicide due to the non-availability of liquor.

From this perspective, a curb on the liquor sales increases stress and self-harm. A public health perspective on the ban of alcohol sales would mean that the state has to take care of mental health needs of the people at the same time. Under lockdown, all non-emergency healthcare and generic OPD services are suffering, so is mental healthcare. We also need to keep in mind that women are at the receiving end of this ban and are being subjected to domestic violence. That said, the other critical question is why should we dwell on alcohol if it’s not an essential commodity?

You cannot see this question from a moral point of view because you immediately leave out a section of our society that is suffering from alcoholism. They should be seen with equal empathy as the other people in need of healthcare.

Liquor sales will help cash-strapped states. Revive some economic activity

Suyash Rai
Fellow, Carnegie India

According to one estimate, in a year, states collect Rs 2 lakh crore by taxing liquor sales, which makes up at least 15 per cent of the tax revenue of states. This has been adversely impacted in the last five weeks. That’s a big problem in the current Covid-19 crisis, as the states are already cash-strapped. All sources of revenue are drying up for them.

In addition to SGST, sales tax/VAT, tax on property transactions, and state excise duties, their main source of revenue is the share they receive from Centre’s tax collection.

Since economic activity has mostly come to a standstill, most of the states’ own tax revenues are under stress. Further, the Centre may also collect and share much lower tax amount than budgeted because its sources of tax revenue — corporation tax, income tax, GST, excise duty and customs, are under stress. GST collection for both Centre and state will be low because consumption is low. Corporate tax will suffer because profitability for most firms is likely to be low. Taxes on petroleum products will also fall because of the fall in consumption.

Alcohol can be easily sold in a way that does not violate social distancing norms like through home delivery. Even if liquor is sold at a higher price, I’m sure many people would be more than willing to pay for it. This will help the states fiscally, and also get some part of economic activity going.

Permitting sale of alcohol during Covid-19 lockdown imprudent. Can exacerbate violence

Dr Soham D. Bhaduri
Editor, The Indian Practitioner & healthcare commentator

Banning of alcohol during the Covid-19 crisis is a tricky thing. We have a directive principle to curb alcohol consumption except medicinally, which may be comfortably invoked here by some. Permitting free sale of alcohol during the Covid-19 lockdown is imprudent given that isolation predisposes to psychological aberrations and violence, which may be exacerbated by alcohol.

Add to it the fact that lockdown can itself predispose people to excessive drinking, which can make things even worse. On the other hand, alcohol withdrawal and concomitant ills like suicides and substitution with toxic substitutes can be a problem, given the reduced access to healthcare. Most withdrawal patients require continued supportive counselling, supervision, and medications; a small percentage may even require emergency management.

We should find a middle path here. The main rationale behind curbing alcohol during Covid crisis is that people shouldn’t congregate in social drinking and spread the infection.

We may permit regulated alcohol consumption, while ensuring social distancing and not letting intakes shoot up too much. There are safe-drinking guidelines prepared by various experts – this could be a good opportunity to fervently promote them. At the same time, adequate arrangements for handling withdrawal and treating dependence must be made available, and smooth access to them should be ensured.

Also read: Arnab Goswami vs Congress: Drama for TV ratings or attack on free speech?

By Pia Krishnankutty, journalist at ThePrint

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  1. It is proven fact that banning of the liquor will effect states adversely and by taking the record of law enforcing in India, is there any proof, that the business will not go into the hands of criminals, who will do it with the help of corrupt people in administration and police. infect the money now going in to the govt treasury will start flowing into the pockets of criminals who may use it in the legal acts or may flow to fund the terrorism. The lives lost will be much more with the illicit liquor then now the controlled one.

  2. I am a corporate management employee, Have to engage myself on VC Meetings and concalls, Working on laptop daily at least 14-16 hours In both situation lockdown or normal.
    Before going to have dinner and sleep I am addict to havr drink daily, Unfortunately I am unable to express my mental situation nowadays due to non availability of liquor.
    I am sure that there are lakhs of profeshionals like me are facing the same horribal situation?
    Needless to state that what and how we contribute to nation in terms of taxes from our salaries as well as engagement/ employment to peoples working in our subbordinate chain.
    I am sure if the Govt/ administrative authorities can make it available on doorstep by charging the homedelivery expences but only what is needed is attention of govt. over citizens like us.
    Try to understand our pathetic situation that after working more than 12hours daily we are not able to get a sleep at night which is leading to bring towards stress and dipression.

  3. To all the people who are so glad that the liquor shops are closed: it is your tax money which is going to pay for the recovery, which will inevitably be higher because of your lofty moral stance. When time comes to pay for your actions I would like to see your reactions. And how come the rest of the world sees no issue on selling alcohol during lockdown?

  4. All these ban of alcohol are applied only for the poor people and mid class. But rather check with the politicians, Rich business peoples – they have already stocked till end of this year. Trying to ban something govt had to make the precautionary rehabilitation and counseling activities once ensured. Otherwise already most of the people started preparing alcohol from their very home, some of them gone to other toxins, some purchasing from black stocks – already stocked by a politician influenced bars. Etc. For COVID19 govt put the people in lockdown and working for people against covid19 that all are fine. As stated by Mr. Arjun I’m also a tax payer and I have not violated any rules abided by govt of India. Now to relax from our mental stress and work depression need something to relax our own personal feels for that we are consuming alcohol but now govt states to ban that also from March 24th till date. Personally I can’t tolerate and I’m mentally disturbed by wait from 1st April reopen, 15th April reopen and again now 3rd may reopen.

  5. I am not an alcoholic but I am social drinker who enjoys 2-3 glasses of whiskey once ya twice a month due to lockdown i feel depressed sitting at home even though I try to get into some activities I still feel like having a glass of alcohol but due to unavailability of alcohol makes me think where on the earth am I living who TF is the government to ban things which I enjoy this is ridiculous am I living under a dictatorship I am a citizen I need my rights you might be a politician but you work for citizens we are not slaves under you f***** illiterate politicians all over the country

  6. I think center is playing politics in liquor case, since there are no or very little economic activity hence states are not able to generate income through taxes and by closing liquor shops center is making sure no income to the state govts so that state govt rely on center govt.
    Remember 02 things,
    1. BJP does not have state govt in most of the states
    2. Illicit / Illegal liquor is very easily available with very high price. State govts are loosing their tax part.

  7. Ok fine liquor shops close for prevention. alright. what about open sewage, overflowing gutters, clogged open drainage systems, horrible sanitation? disinfecting public places? revamping public health infra? why nothing is done in this regard (except railways initiatives)? we are going to pay astronomical cost and loss of many lives on account of these issues.
    And no one talking about it? what a travesty
    Stay home stay safe….lol.. who in the world going to suppress this smouldering outbreak lurking in those places?

  8. In agreement that government needs to think about the poor and come up with strategies BUT strategies require money which the states dont have. History teaches us that Moral policing is the first step to dictating social behaviour which is followed by dictatorship. I am a tax payer who pays a lot of tax each month/year. If only the poor are being thought of, what crime I have done as a tax payer to think that the govt should give a thought about me as well? I work hard, I pay my dues and I have all the right in the world to unwind and relax as I want. Whether with alcohol or not, isnt upto the govt to decide. And to sound controversial, just like seeing withdrawal symptoms would be good research, how about we test the capability of the human body to survive without food? and IDGAF about what comments I get next.

  9. There is no science to this restriction. Perhaps not much thought either. State governments are losing excise revenue at a level of 2.5 trillion a year. And it is depriving people of a little pleasure at a time of stress. In a world where birth rates are plunging, felt happy to read that seven million conceptions will take place during this time.

  10. Sir, Taking Middle path is a toughest situation. Either Allow or Don’t allow.
    If Allowed, in what way
    If Not allowed, how Long and how we can support those people

    There is lot of Pressure on State who has allowed Liquor consumption and what other way , they can explore Revenue Generation in lieu of that. Can we tax those who are Higher class with additional Loca Tax.
    Need your thoughts

  11. Opening liquor shops now will take away money from the poor families to liquor barons who are politically and media wise well connected. As far as withdrawal symptoms for alcohol addicts goes well it would good research as to what happens.

    • Not openly liquor shops would force them to purchase at a higher rate in the black market.. Which exactly happening now..

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