Sound Familiar?

India
"Supporters of prohibition say that the cost, no matter how high, is
worth the price to save families torn apart by the scourge of
alcoholism. Despite a cultural ideal that frowns on drinking,
alcoholism is a major problem at every level of society. The
consequences are particularly severe among the working classes, where
men often spend large portions of their meager daily wages on booze
while their families go without adequate food or shelter."

Sound familiar?

It should, this could have been written word for word in a newspaper somewhere in New England or Indiana or Georgia circa 1916.

It comes from a recent UPI story out of India.

India appears to be considering the same noble experiment that America undertook over 80 years ago.

Recently Prohibition was instituted in the Indian state of Haryana. In April, the state of Kerala banned the production and sale of Arrack, a traditional brew made from the sap of palm trees.

India has a population of more than a billion people and a fast growing economy. It, along with China, is one of the great export markets many wine producers in America and elsewhere are looking toward for real growth in sales.

It seems to me the unfortunate affects of alcohol abuse have to be pretty bad to consider, let alone implement, Prohibition in a state or entire country. By all accounts, the abuse of alcohol was pretty ugly in parts of the United States prior to 1919 and the installation of national prohibition here.

One tool to combat alcohol abuse that exists today that didn’t exist in 1919 is the mass media. Delivering a message and promoting a message is much more efficient today than it ever was. But even with this and other modern tools to combat societal problems, enacting a total prohibition on alcohol must be pretty tempting particularly for a politician. Leaders make names for themselves with with bold steps; by putting in place plans of action; by responding to the needs of many people.

Were more states in India to ban alcohol it’s quite clear that crime and corruption would increase. Criminals, like politicians, are adept at answering the call of a citizenry.

It will be fascinating to watch the course of events in India and to see if their experiment can take a different course than America’s.

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7 Responses

  1. Dan Cochran - July 24, 2007

    Interesting. I wonder how they will stop hundreds of millions of grown men from drinking?

  2. Christian Pillsbury - July 24, 2007

    Technically, India is constitutionally prohibitionist, and some states like Gujarat are absolutely dry.
    In practice, India is opening quickly to wine, and spirits have been consumed in mass quantities forever (India is the world’s largest market for “whiskey”). The tariffs on foreign wines are dropping quickly, and the rate of consumption is growing at a crazy rate (up to 40% per year).
    Though there is a healthy neo-prohibitionist movement in India, you will find that in the macro view India is definately wine and spirits crazy. Look to people like Vijay Mallya of UB Group, a beer and spirits billionaire, and Rajeev Samant of Sula Wines leading the modern wine pack.
    Prohibition reads well, but they could sooner ban tea.

  3. Alcoholism - July 24, 2007

    Here’s a website you may find useful. http://www.addicted.com is a site for friends, families, and those who suffer from various addictions.

  4. Ruarri - July 25, 2007

    I think that the mass media can work in favor of prohibition as much as it will work against it.
    India, funnily enough, is a market that South African wines are eying out very seriously. In fact I know lot of producers who are doing deals with India. On top of that, India itself has a fast emerging wine industry. http://indianwine.com/cs/blogs/about_wine/archive/2006/10/28/1138.aspx
    In fact – nothing goes better with Indian food than wine. Beer gets overpowered by anything too spicy – and the only real option is a Syrah/Grenache blend – or something equally spicy and robust.
    I think we all know that alcohol will be a problem wherever there is extreme poverty.
    However, one of India’s biggest exports is its people – who live in England, America, Canada and South Africa – and I think that the Indian community could quite easily drive up the demand for Indian wines within all of these countries.
    India has also become an incredibly desirable tourist destination – and personally I’ve love to combine a trip to Cashmere with a trip to see the Bangalore wine industry.
    Prohibition and stifling laws will always be difficult to implement in a country that has experience free-market liberalism. And with online ordering and the prevalence of non-government controlled delivery companies like FedEx and DHL, banning wine would create a surge in online illegal wine sales – depriving the government of potential tax revenue and India would in turn shoot itself in the foot.
    Promote the alcohol and preach prudence. Its the only way.

  5. alcohol abuse - July 25, 2007

    Here’s a website you may find useful. http://www.addicted.com is a site for friends, families, and those who suffer from various addictions.

  6. Alastair Bathgate - August 1, 2007

    Here in the UK we have a so-called binge drinking problem. Young, middle-aged and old people alike consume alcohol in short sharp bursts in order to get hammered. In my opinion this has been caused by two problems:
    a) antiquated licencing laws implemented in World War 2 (recently relaxed at long last).
    b) an ingrained attitude to alcohol that it is somehow “wrong” like nudity or sex.
    The fact that there is no binge drinking culture in continental Europe supports my theory. Licensing laws are relaxed and parents encourage their children to enjoy wine as part of the dining experience and consider it as a pleasure – whereas we were taught that alcolhol was about getting drunk.
    Since British licencing laws were relaxed, some reports say that binge drinking has got (sorry, gotten) worse. I am not surprised, but it is still the right thing to do. It will take a generation or two for us to work this repressive behaviour out of our system.
    In the meantime India would be better served looking at the French model than the British or American.
    Alastair

  7. sapana vishu - August 17, 2010

    piyaycha piya nahi tar mara


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