Dec 18: Although most States in India use Article 47 of the Indian Constitution which implores them to go for prohibition and authorises them to independently determine their sales, pricing and tax policies, to increase taxes at will as Sin Tax, the first phase of the recently-released National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5) 2019-20 reveals that the Dry State of Bihar has a higher percentage of people consuming alcohol than Maharashtra, writes Subhash Arora where he says most people unknowingly break the law as they don’t have a drinking permit, the government license required to consume alcohol as per the Bombay Prohibition Act of 1949
Bihar has had a complete ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol in April 2016 and went dry with draconian laws where one could be prosecuted for storing even one bottle of whisky or wine and there were cases of people arrested reportedly for their political leanings. However, according to the Survey (NFHS-5) 15.5 percent of the male population of age 15 years and above reportedly consume alcohol in Bihar. In urban regions of the state 14 percent of men age 15 years and above drink alcohol, while the percentage is higher at 15.8 in rural Bihar.
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In Maharashtra, only 13.9 percent of men aged 15 years and above consume alcohol, showed the survey. In urban regions of the state, 13 percent of such population drinks alcohol, while the percentage is 14.7 in rural Maharashtra.
In the case of women aged 15 years and above consuming alcohol, both Bihar and Maharashtra list on the same level, as 0.4 percent of such population drinks liquor in these states.
However, if this population of women is divided on the basis of urban and rural regions, more females consume alcohol in urban Bihar than in the same region in Maharashtra. In Bihar, 0.5 percent of women consume alcohol, which is 0.3 in Maharashtra. In the rural regions, Maharashtra’s women exceed Bihar with the former count standing at 0.5 percent and the latter at 0.4 percent.
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People in Goa, which is associated with drinking Goan Port and cheaper liquor and music and dancing and partying in general, has a lower proportion of people consuming alcohol than Telangana. In Goa, 36.9 percent of the male population above the age of 15 years consumes alcohol, while in Telangana, the percentage is 43.3 percent, as per the survey report. The Survey does not categorise alcohol consumed but delWine assumes with sufficient evidence that Goa consumes much more wine (Goan Port) and Feni than Telangana.
The Dry State of Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir have the least consumption of alcohol with 5.8 percent and 8.8 percent of men of 15 years of age being in the list, respectively in the state and union territory.
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Since 1991, militant groups have declared a ban on liquor in Kashmir, while J&K is officially not a 'dry region'. Liquor vends were closed in Kashmir after the Allah Tigers, a militant outfit, issued a blanket ban on its sale and consumption soon after the eruption of militancy in the region.
The Excise Department of J & K had identified 183 new locations — 116 in Jammu and 67 in the Kashmir valley for sale of liquor a few months ago. According to an official document, the Excise Department has conducted a survey in exercise of the powers under rule 28 of the J&K Liquor and License Rules-1984 and Section 4 (B) of the Excise Act and identified these locations for the opening of new sale points.
The survey was conducted in 6.1 lakh sample households, involving household-level interviews, to collect information on population, health, family planning and nutrition-related indicators.
Also Read: Prohibition: Bootlegging Business in Booze Born in Bihar
National Family Health Survey is a District Level Survey that is conducted by the Government of Indian at regular intervals since 1992-93 (NFHS-1). It was last conducted in 2015-16 (NFHS-4). Unfortunately, the comparison is not feasible between the two surveys since the last Survey focused on the age limit of 15-49 years where the current one has undertaken the age group of 15+. Only 22 States/ Union Territories could take part in Phase-1 due to Covid-19. Work for the balance 14 states/UTs has since commenced and will be presented in Phase-2.
Incidentally, the legal drinking age in India is a State subject and varies in 3 categories, from 18=25 years, with most States including Delhi restricting it to 25 years and a few at 21 or 18 years.
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